How To Make Hardboard Art Panels for Oil Painting

I’ve looked at manufactured art boards primed and ready for oil painting from several vendors. At my local Michaels store one 9”x12” Mona Lisa™ Gessoed Art Board™ cost $5.49. I want 50 boards. If I buy all 50 panels from Michaels that works out to about $275. Yikes!

On the other hand, if I make my own hardboard panels for plein air painting, I can save a considerable amount of money. At my local Home Depot, I bought 5 2’x4’ hardboard panels. Each panel can produce 10 9"x12" panels. My son help me cut 50 panels. Those five 2’x4’ hardboard panels cost only $25. Add primer and gesso and some sandpaper and my total cost for 50 boards is $69 versus $275 for panels purchased at Michaels.

In reality, I ended up with only 47 boards. I destroyed 3 panels because I got the bright idea to use Rustoleum automotive oil-based primer. The fumes nearly killed me, and the results were abysmal. I decided to go the traditional route of using acrylic gesso. It took a two or three days to get all the boards gessoed and sanded. I’m quite pleased with the results! I now have 47 beautifully finished 9”x12” hardboard panels ready for plein air painting - all for $1.47 each versus $5.49 each from Michaels.

But the big question is: would I go the DIY route with art panels again? Frankly, the time I spent making the boards could have perhaps been better spent painting. How much is your time worth? Anyhow, I have no regrets. I enjoyed the learning process.

Liquitex Professional White Gesso Surface Prep Medium, 32-oz (affiliate link)

PORTER-CABLE 380 1/4 Sheet Orbital Finish Palm Sander