Panel Preparation by artist Thomas Hudson

“PIPE CUTTER” by Thomas Hudson, 12 x 16″, Oil on Panel.

The following is a tutorial for panel preparation by artist Thomas Hudson:

I start with two foldable saw horses.

I put plastic on top of the saw horses to keep them clean. And place two planks of wood, 38 inches in length on top. This setup is just below waist level. This makes it easy for me to walk around the whole set up. With the panel on top of the wood, it doesn’t “stick” to the wood after the gesso has been brushed on.

I used to do all of this on the floor, covered with newspapers. And use two to four telephone books, depending on the size of the panel, to place the panel on so it wouldn’t stick to the newspaper after the gesso has been brushed on. That became tiring. I noticed two saw horses in the basement , then I got this idea. Much better

I also have two longer planks of wood 63 inches in length to hold up to six panels. Or one very large panel.

I begin by sanding the back of the panel with 100 grit sandpaper.

I prefer to round off the corners of the panel. No sharp corners.

The back of the panel has a texture that I prefer not to paint on. And this texture easily identifies the “back”.

After the panel is thoroughly sanded, including all four edges, I vacuum the dust away.

This is the front. You can see the rough “lip” on the edges. That’s the first thing I sand smooth.

Much better. Very smooth edges.

Then I use 220 grit sandpaper to smooth away the slight texture from the 100 grit sandpaper.

All done.

This is my preferred brand of gesso. It dries to a pleasing rough, mat texture with a slight tooth. I tried another acrylic gesso. After it dried, it was too “plastic” for me to draw on. Couldn’t use it. This brand feels very good to draw on.

Gesso. Three inch bristle brush. Scrap paper to keep track of my coats. 220 grit sandpaper.

Even, smooth horizontal strokes.

That’s one coat.

I put the brush on the plastic bag.

And wrap it up to keep it moist.

Mark down my first coat on the front.

I work in this area of the studio under the ceiling fan to speed up drying.

When dry, I sand the surface with 220 grit sandpaper, and rub my other hand over the surface to feel for any areas I missed.

After it’s sanded, I vacuum the dust.

After vacuuming the front. I gesso the back. When dry, I sand, and vacuum. This is the front of the panel with the second coat being brushed on. Each coat is applied in a “crosshatch” pattern. Each coat is sanded smooth before the next coat is brushed on.

I mark it down. “L” is for the long length of the panel. “S” for the short length of the panel. Crosshatch.
While waiting for each coat to dry, I’m busy with artwork, and can sometimes forget what direction to apply the next coat. So it’s important to keep track. I brush SIX coats on the front. FIVE coats on the back. Some artists brush on three costs. Some brush on ten coats. I’m comfortable with six coats.

All done. Ready for another adventure.

To learn more about Thomas Hudson and his artwork, please visit: