5x7 oil on panelI recently drove out to the Mojave Desert heading for the roads just above the desert town of Little Rock. I planned to get there just before evening light and took my time taking reference photos as the light got better and better. This scene was painted back in the studio as a little painting...5x7". I had an idea of trying various scenes on small masonite panels that were prepared with a layer of texture below the gesso. You can see the thick lines of the texture in the painting. To do this I bought two sheets of masonite panel and cut them to the sizes I wanted. I then brushed on a layer of Liquitex Acrylic Gel Medium (Gloss Super Heavy Gel). This gel is white while wet and dries clear. You can apply it in thick strokes and it will retain the shape and dry that way. After that layer dried I applied my 2 layers of gesso so I'd get a good primed surface for the oil paint.
The acrylic gel actually seals the board so very little oil from the paint soaks into the gesso or board. I use copal painting medium with my paint mixes so even 5 days later the paint is dry but as shiney as when it was first painted....usually after a painting dries it turns pretty flat until you varnish the paint. If you were painting in a plein air paint out this method of prepared boards would allow you to frame the finished painting and sell to a buyer knowing that painting would look like the day you painted it weeks later with no varnish applied. The only downside is you have to paint very thin with your darks so that you can apply your mids and highlights over them...remember, the paint doesn't soak in like a board just prepared with only gesso.