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Painting on . . . plastic?

Plastic, as a painting surface for artists, has quite a track record. Artists have been painting on plastic surfaces for half a century. In fact, for many decades now, the large majority of paintings made by artists have been painted on plastic. Not on plastic panels of course, but rather, on acrylic gesso.

Dried films of polymer paints are simply very thin sheets of plastic. Polymer paints differ from other plastic sheets only in that they are formed by the end user with a brush or roller, rather than being formed as a sheet in a factory. Plastic formed with a brush is not typically very strong, so the sheet is formed by "laminating" it directly to a supporting structure like canvas or wood.

Polymer gesso coatings have generally held up very well over the decades, although they are not the ideal primer in all situations. They can often be rather permeable, allowing oil to soak through to the canvas. And depending on how they are formulated, applied, and prepared, they can often be rather slippery and provide a less-than-ideal bonding surface for some paints.

None the less, plastics are probably the most durable materials that an artist can paint on. They can be extraordinarily long lived. And plastic in the form of panels has many advantages that thin paint films can't offer, negating the shortcomings of polymer gessoes.

Plastic panels are physically strong. They eliminate the dangers of "delamination" the eventual separation or chipping away of the primer from its support. Most importantly, the right type of plastic in panel form can be what we call "surfaceable". This means that it is receptive to precision micro-abrasion. Through this method, we give plastic panels superbly workable surfaces for the ultimate in controllable, nuanced paint handling, while insuring the strongest possible bonding of your paints to the panel.

We live in a society with an anti-plastic bias. But the right plastics, used for the right purposes, can do wonderful things. People often tend to think of plastics as disposeable, throw away materials. But some are quite the opposite, being among the most enduring materials ever made. If you still think of plastics as being cold and characterless, well, you probably haven't seen the exquisite surfaces of SOLID GROUND art panels.


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