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Old 02-18-2010, 04:30 PM
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Keith Russell Keith Russell is offline
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Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

A friend of mine was given (!) some honeycombed aluminum panels, and she (of course) wants to use them.

I've read some information about electroplating, anodizing, etc., but that sort of thing seems to be used mostly for industrial paint applications, not for fine art.

What is the best way to prepare aluminum panels for painting in oils? I know you're supposed to remove any oils already on the panel...using what?

And, can "regular" (acrylic-based) gesso be used to prime them?

Thanks!
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:12 PM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

Keith -- Usually these panels are sealed with a plastic layer that is pealed off for use -- to protect from scratches. You don't need to clean if that is the case, just paint on the metal with oils. If you want to clean, you can use either rubbing alcohol or solvent on a rag.

I wouldn't use an acrylic primer. Use an oil-based or spray-on (or baked-on) primer. These panels are often primed for the sign painting industry, although for building purposes they are usually plain metal or anodized surface.

If she wants a white surface, I'd suggest a lead primer applied without any size layer. Same for copper, and probably stainless steel, but I've not yet used steel. No need to scuff the surface, but you can if you want.
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Old 02-18-2010, 06:18 PM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Russell
A friend of mine was given (!) some honeycombed aluminum panels, and she (of course) wants to use them.

I've read some information about electroplating, anodizing, etc., but that sort of thing seems to be used mostly for industrial paint applications, not for fine art.

What is the best way to prepare aluminum panels for painting in oils? I know you're supposed to remove any oils already on the panel...using what?

And, can "regular" (acrylic-based) gesso be used to prime them?

Thanks!

Keith,

Is there oil on the panel? If there is something, it couldn't hurt to wipe it down with an appropriate cleaner, but if you do, of course wear proper gloves, and follow safety precautions.

As Jim said, I wouldn't use acrylic primer. It really is too bad that that zinc chromate is no longer available. We use to call it green death, but it was excellent for priming aluminum, and oil could go over it.

You may want to get some two part epoxy primer. It of course comes in two cans, and you mix what you need, and can use in 30 minutes, and paint it on. When dry, you can run a Makita sander over it, to smooth it out. That is an excellent way to prime aluminum. In a pinch you could get some Rustoleum (matt), to the color of your choice, for a tinted surface.

Jim T

Last edited by Termini. : 02-18-2010 at 07:17 PM.
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Old 02-18-2010, 07:17 PM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

Thanks! I knew I could count on the folks here for an answer!
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Old 02-19-2010, 02:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Russell
What is the best way to prepare aluminum panels for painting in oils?
This is something where there are definite differences of opinion (and not just for fine-art painting).

For our type of application one of the main concerns would be if the artist were hoping for an archival result since they may decide they have to an automotive- or industry-type primer, many of which would provide a very good bond with the metal (and the paint will bond to them well) but there is no assurance of the very long lifespan that we would hope for.

The technical problem with aluminium is that it is very reactive and forms an oxide layer when exposed to air, so priming tends to bond to oxide, not to the actual metal. Now the aluminium holds on to that oxide layer extremely strongly, but it is still an obvious concern. This is why an etching primer might be used in an industrial context - these are designed to etch through the thin layer of oxidation to bond with the metal underneath.

But not everyone who works with aluminium uses an etching primer, which is where we get into opinion - even real authorities on the subject don't agree on what's best, even for the same application.

For our type of painting, regardless of the primer that is chosen, it would be best to sand or scuff the panel thoroughly, primarily to aid in forming a good mechanical bond. Then, wearing nitrile gloves degrease the surface followed by priming.

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Old 02-19-2010, 10:03 AM
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At present, based on present materials available, a two part epoxy primer would be the best primer for aluminum. There were other materials available in the past that were exceptionally useful, but extremely toxic. Some of them were even made into oil paint (chrome yellow) Once bonded with clean aluminum substrate or superstructure, it is not removable by any means, other than mechanical (i.e. sandblasting, direct scraping, or sanding). You obviously know more regarding automotive applications, and never having dealt with aluminum in that capacity, I can't comment. However, I can assure anyone reading here, that any material that can survive a marine environment, can most certainly survive a climate controlled gallery environment .

The prior sanding is a very good suggestion, and I would also recommend that if sanding is undertaken, both of the metal itself, or of any applied primer, an appropriate dust mask should be worn.

I would further indicate that after sanding, we used to give the metal a thorough wipe down with denatured alcohol.

I would say that in my most humble of opinions, I would always prefer a solution to this problem that involves removing the corrosion, rather than making use of it. A good primer should be applied over metal that has no corrosion

Not being a chemist, I found your discussion of oxides on aluminum to be very interesting. Would your care to go into a little more detail, for those with no such background?

If you have any ideas that are more effective than two part epoxy primer over aluminum, I and many others would be very interested in them.

Last edited by dcorc : 02-24-2010 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 02-23-2010, 03:48 AM
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Aluminium oxidises swiftly in the presence of air - statements on just how fast vary - forming a tenacious oxide layer.

Assuming the fastest oxidation rates that are given - seconds! - are accurate then unless one abrades aluminium under an inert gas or in a hard vacuum then all primers will therefore be going down onto a layer of aluminium oxide and not to the aluminium. This is one of the main arguments used in favour of an etching primer since it is, in practical terms, the only way to ensure the primer coat bonds to the metal itself. The issue is more complex than this, since of course primers that don't etch can and do perform extremely well, I'm just mentioning it in relation to the ideal of priming directly to fresh metal.

Now this kind of technical stuff is interesting for some of us, but in practice this sort of thing may be essentially irrelevant; other factors - like the availability of spraying equipment to the artist - may make the decision for them rather than any issues of absolute toughness, strength of bond to the metal or how well the paint bonds to the primer.

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Last edited by dcorc : 02-24-2010 at 09:00 PM. Reason: keeping discussion on-topic
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Old 02-23-2010, 07:38 AM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

Keith;

One can also adhere canvas or linen to the aluminum panel as well, then prime it with an oil primer. A colleague recommends using Golden Gel medium as the adhesive/size on pre-primed panels such as Dibond, Alumalite, or Econolite.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:20 PM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

I have split off other posts in this thread, into another (closed) thread:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=609777

I will remind participants that this thread should remain on topic specifically to Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels

Let's keep it straightforward, and factual, and to the point.


Dave
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Old 04-25-2010, 10:44 PM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

I like the idea of glueing canvas onto the panel. Does the panel need any bracing like wood panels?
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Old 04-26-2010, 01:10 AM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

Harold -- No bracing needed unless the panels get very large.
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Old 04-26-2010, 09:52 AM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

Thanks. Is the aluminum panel a lot lighter than wood panels? Maybe half way between the weight of a wood panel and a stretched canvas or is it about as light as a stretched canvas of the same size?
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Old 04-26-2010, 10:51 AM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

Harold -- it depends. Di-bond is very thin with a thin solid plastic center -- about 1/8" thick. I consider it flimsy. Some aluminum panel use a poly honeycomb, and these are pretty light and a little thicker -- fairy sturdy

My favorte is 6mm Alucobond, which has thicker aluminium sides and thicker solid plastic center. This one is quite rigid and suitible for architectural exteriors (what it's really made for, not sign painting). This weighs slightly less than 3/8" plywood, and much less than with cradling/bracing, but still quite a lot more than stretched canvases. And it's delicate to handle if you are moving it around much, as I do while painting -- constantly rotating or flipping.
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Old 04-26-2010, 02:39 PM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffG
Keith;

One can also adhere canvas or linen to the aluminum panel as well, then prime it with an oil primer. A colleague recommends using Golden Gel medium as the adhesive/size on pre-primed panels such as Dibond, Alumalite, or Econolite.

When I paint on panel (which I'm doing more and more often), the last thing I want is canvas or linen texture.

That's just my preference...
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Old 04-26-2010, 02:44 PM
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Re: Oil Painting on Aluminum Panels...

Thanks again gunzorro. I copied the info.

I like having the option. I have painted on prepared panel without canvas and it was nice for really fine detail. For some painting I still like canvas.

Last edited by hblenkle : 04-26-2010 at 02:49 PM.
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