Sunday, 27 June 2010

Oil painting on Sintra PVC Board

David Eichenberg likes to paint portraits which are based on the pictoral qualities of historical paintings.  However he used a very modern support made of pvc on which to paint - called Sintra.  It strikes me that there are others like me that have never heard of it before - hence this post!

"Tim II" (2009)
Oil on Sintra Panel, 13.25" x 12.75"(without frame)
copyright the artist

David told me that it is completely inert and very rigid and consequently will last a very long time.

It's also very lightweight so could be a very sensible option when sending paintings overseas as David had to do when sending the portrait on the right from Toledo, Ohio to London.

It struck me that it might possible be a very sensible option for daily painters who have lots of overseas customers - so I decided to do some more research.

After talking with him last week, I went away and found the website . 
Sintra is a lightweight yet rigid board of moderately expanded closed-cell polyvinyl chloride (PVC) extruded in a homogenous sheet with a low gloss matte finish.

Product Availability
Sintra PVC Foam Board is available in 1mm, 2mm, 3mm, 4mm, 5,mm, 6mm and 13 mm. It can be suctom cut to any size but comes in stock sheets of 1Mx8, 4'x8', 4'x10', 5'x10', 2Mx 10'.

It's actually a building material which is used for exeternal sign displays and consequently is designed to resist all sorts of extremes. The website suggests that its benefits are:
  • Lightweight yet rigid and durable 

  • Easily formed into just about any shape imaginable using wood and foam board fabrication techniques 

  • Heat formable and chemical resistant 
Superior dent and scratch resistance 

  • Custom colors and special cuts available
I'm guessing that David has found out all about its properties because he majored in sculture while doing his degree - and sculptors tend to know an awful lot about how materials work and whether or not they deform over time.

Painting Sintra

David coats the Sintra he uses with acrylic gesso before painting on it using oil paints.

I looked around for websites talking about its use for painting and found one used by modelmakers and robit builders.  Somebody asked for a tutorial on how to use paint on Sintra and was given this answer.......

1. Buy Sintra.

2. Buy Paint.
3. Apply Paint.
4. Let Dry.
However, from what I could see others had experienced problems and the trick seems to be to find something which provides the first coat and which then allows other paints to be used on top.

I wrote to David about this post and he sent me the method he uses.
  • Step 1: I rough up the surface with 220 grit sand paper to remove the semi-gloss finish and to give the Sintra a little tooth to help with the gesso adheision.
  • Step 2: Apply gesso, I use Liquitex Professional Gesso, I find that this is pretty close to the working properties that one might find with traditional gesso. When set it is absorbant which is how I prefer my base. The student gesso is non-absorbant and the paint seems to just push around on it.
  • Step 3: Apply 2-3 coats of gesso and let dry overnight.
  • Step 4: sand with 220 lightly then move to 320 or 400 grit, depending on what type of surface you prefer.
  • I use the 6mm board.  The 3mm board will warp from the gesso pulling as it dries on one side. Any warping that does happen is minimal and can be corrected by framing. The spring is less than that of wooden panel. I have had paintings done using this method in my studio, which is not climate controlled and sees extreme temperature and humidity chages throughout the year with no integrity issues, whatsoever.
David Eichenberg

These are more links to websites which talk about Sintra and working with Sintra

Manual for working with Sintra

There is a manual which is mentioned by some as the best reference for working with Sintra - I think this is the pdf file for the Sintra Manual created by Alcan Composites.

This is what the manual says about painting on Sintra
Types of paints known compatible with Sintra material
A. Vinyls 
B. Acrylic Lacquers 
C.    Two part polyurethanes
With Sintra material, water-based latex systems and oil-based enamels generally do not have the good adherence properties of solvent based systems. Although, the use of primers can improve the adherence of non-solvent based systems, the adherence is usually minimal.
It also indicates the preparation required prior to painting.  The Manual also recommends testing.

By artists
By Model/robit makers
In terms of supplies, I'm guessing we're talking about specialist suppliers only. is one source of Sintra that I found on the net and David confirms this is the one he uses.

Many thanks to David for providing notes on how he uses Sintra - that's helped to clarify how it's used and I have to say David's oil paintings look extremely good on it.

Note:  David Eichenberg lives in Toldeo, Ohio and graduated from the University of Toledo with a degree in sculpture and painting in 1998.  


visioneerwindows said...

judging from this, with some sanding prep and the acrylic gesso, this could also be used with pen and acrylic inks...

Anonymous said...

I am about to use sintra over masonite, but I will add a strainer to the sintra to rigidify, and then mount canvas to it. The feature of it being chemically inert is appealing. Worth investigating.

Anonymous said...

The idea of mounting canvas to sintra may be the best way to go instead of painting directly on it.advantages:
chemically inert-no apparent off gassing-can mount canvas to it for plein air panels- can be rigidified by gluing a wood strainer to will be affected by extremes in heat
which is why a mounted canvas may be better. I hear Miracle muck is a good adhesive to use, or acrylic gel. finally,sintra can replace linoleum
for large scale relief prints. can cut in any direction and the effects are like a large scale wood engraving.

Anonymous said...

Sintra is also used in sign making. I know of a guy who uses it at Golden acrylics to paint on. I would go with
mounting canvas to it rather than paint directly on it.
It is flammable, but then, so are all wood substrates.
The data that it is chemically inert should be a boon to those who fear acidity and surface induced discoloration from wood. Worth exploring in greater detail. anon.

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