I like to prepare my own. This gives me just what I want, and saves money too. My preferred painting support is a rigid panel that is primed and toned with a color. My most favorite is a panel with primed Belgian linen. But, they can be expensive; even when I make them myself.
Selecting and Cutting a Board
Priming with Acrylic Gesso
First Coat: I begin by painting the edges, then lay the panel flat and brush randomly until the surface is covered evenly. Working quickly, on one board at a time, so the paint doesn’t begin drying. Then, I smooth out the gesso by laying the brush over and lightly stroking horizontally while overlapping slightly.
Next, the back side of the panel is done in the same way. It is important to seal the board on all sides to protect it from moisture. And, it also gives it a more professional look. Another reason is that, when the gesso dries, it creates a slight tension on that side of the panel. With a large board, this could cause the panel to warp. So, applying another coat on the reverse side evens out the tension.
Third Coat: This layer is done the same as the second coat. Except that, when it is applied, it is lightly stroked in a horizontal direction. Again, 90 degrees to the last coat. Usually, three coats is sufficient for a nice surface. But, additional layers can be done to get it just right.