If you’re interested in a different perspective with regards to painting supports, give mylar a try. Frosted and not the clear version, is an excellent support that is quite affordable with archival qualities. In fact, in some ways, it is vastly superior to some of the more traditional painting supports like canvas, wood panel or even linen. Mylar has a high tensile strength, chemical stability and does not buckle under moisture.
Mylar is a type of polyester and it has wide variety of art and craft uses. It’s extremely durable, impermeable, slick surface provides a support that closely matches painting on an oil primed surface. The brand that I use is Dura-Lar and it has a matte translucent surface on both sides. Besides oil and acrylics, you can paint using pencils, ink or even charcoal on it.
How to paint on Mylar:
1. Tape the Mylar to a flat sturdy surface. Do not cut it to the exact size as you can make alterations to your finished piece, by extending the composition.
2. Apply a thin underpainting as support will show through the frosted Mylar. (Note: you may want to experiment with this unique support quality by not painting an under wash and instead have the support show through. Ex. Painting on an old wooden panel and having the wood fibers show through the painting.
3. Paint as you normally wood, fat over lean.
4. Oil out if you have sunken sections of your work, once the painting is dry.
5. Varnish, remove the tape and frame.
For those of us who know what and arduous project it is preparing panels and priming them with oil, having Mylar as an alternative is a great option. Because you know that is it readily available and inexpensive, you paint a lot looser and freer. Give Mylar a try and you’ll find it an invaluable alternative surface to paint on.
PS If you want to display these Mylar paintings unmatted, you will have to glue them to a panel like a gatorboard or a dibond panel using archival glue.