I like to paint on cradled birch panels. I like how the 2″ depth lets me show a painting without the need for additional framing. The advantages of using wood panel instead of canvas is that the wood surface gives me a hard, inflexible material on which to painting. Working on canvas, especially large ones, is like painting the surface of a trampoline and it is too “bouncy” a painting surface for my tastes. I’m starting a new 4′ x 4′ painting today so I thought I would show you how I make the cradled panel for it.
First, I cut the top panel out of a sheet of 1/4″ birch veneered plywood and the sides and braces out of pine 1 by 2’s. Then I paint the pieces with 3 coats of white gesso. Next, I attach the cradled sides to the panel using wood glue and clamps. To keep the panel from warping, I also add a center brace and corner braces . I counter sink nails at all the joints for even more stability and patch the holes with wood putty. Last, I add more gesso over the nail holes. Voila! A new painting panel waiting for painting and paper.