Artists painting in acrylic or oil typically paint on canvas, canvas board or gessoed masonite.
Watercolorists paint on paper. However, many other surfaces can be used as a painting support.
Artistic creativity does not necessarily stop with the artwork. Many themes can be enhanced by use of non-traditional supports and the artist can spread his creative wings planning an unorthodox approach in selecting the surface upon which he will paint.
One thing the artist must keep in mind is the permanency of the piece. Not all works of art are intended to last through the millennia, although the artist would prefer a piece to last for years. At times a piece can be experimental, a temporary decoration, or a whimsical piece done just for the fun of it.
Paintings on velvet went out of vogue back in the 1970’s, and with good reason. Velvet Elvis or Matador Impaling Bull was never the height of artistic expression, but fabric does remain a viable alternative as a decorative paint support. A number of paints and dyes are made specifically for painting on fabric, and beautiful decorative or wearable art pieces awaits the artist who is interested in fabric. Silk and synthetic silks are probably the most popular choices, but any fabric is fair game for the motivated fiber painter. Canvas is a popular choice for hand-painted floor cloths, denim jackets and jeans are other naturals for personalization and decoration. Acrylic paints can also be used with some fabrics, but testing out paints is always a good idea when trying new painting supports.
Ever since man first painted on cave walls, he has been expressing himself with his art on every conceivable surface. Some supports lend themselves readily to the artist’s brush, while others require preparation and particular painting mediums.
Wood in, its many incarnations, is used widely. A perfectly standard support is masonite coated with gesso. However, many an artist has been known to paint a plank of wood or a particularly appealing branch of a tree. Flat planks of wood may be covered with gesso, if preferred, but painting on raw wood also has its charms. Driftwood, with all its shapes and sizes, is very popular for painting and decorating. It has a wonderful naturally burnished surface upon which to paint and lends itself to marine and animal themes.
Another natural material favored by the home décor painter is slate. Thin slabs of slate may be painted with acrylic paint. Often the craftsman will drill holes at the top to tie cord or leather strips on which to hang the painting.
Rocks in many shapes and sizes are painted with whimsical animals, insects or flowers. Take a walk in nearby parks or forests to search out potential woodland painting supports.
Painting eggs is an old craft that has been practiced worldwide for hundreds of years, and not necessarily just for Easter. Small holes at either end of the shell will allow the contents to be blown out. A number of different types of paints can be used to paint eggs, as well as inks and wax relief techniques.
Leather is an interesting support to use for painting. It can be painted with acrylic paint, as it remains supple if the leather is not mounted. However, heavy applications may crack or dislodge from the leather if it is used on wearing apparel. Thin layers are suitable, as well as very liquid paint or dyes that will absorb into the fibers.
Gourds, when properly dried, make long lasting painting supports that can be dyed, painted, carved or etched. They come in many colors, sizes and shapes, are readily available at markets, and produce shops.
For thousands of years, artists in India have painted on the Peepal leaf. These are very delicate paintings, backed with colored paper. This very unusual and interesting support for painting is not commonly used today, but points out the diversity of painting surfaces available to the creative artist.
At The Hardware Store
Painting tiles, glass, mirrors, acetate and metal could be another option. Acrylics are the choice to use when painting these items, and they must be treated carefully, as the paint can easily be scraped and damaged. When the painting is completed, a seal of spray polyurethane gives protection to the work to make it more durable.
Repurposing For Arts Sake
Altered books are growing in popularity. The artist selects a book of the desired size in which to paint, draw and create collages. The covers are painted and decorated as well, and become an entire collection in one binding.
Use torn pieces of paper, tissue, newsprint, magazines and other papers to create your own collage surface to paint. Use acrylic clear medium to act as an adhesive to glue the paper to a board. When it has dried, it is ready for painting.
There are unlimited painting surfaces the inventive artist can find to create his art. Found and recycled painting surfaces add to the unique statement the artist wishes to make, and can reinforce the strength of his message. Alternatively, they can be just down right fun. Go out and paint a rock today.