Simon Liu Inc.
We bring the same exacting craftsmanship and quality to this foundational art support form, a fine art staple for thousands of years.
Why select an Art Panel?
Before the Canvas Stretcher was born, artists were painting directly on Art Panels for millennia.
The overall quality has advanced but the basic concept remains the same, with Art Panels still a preferred art surface and support for many conservators and artists.
Traditionally constructed from joined planks of wood, today most Art Panels are built with much lighter boards or composite materials.
We offer custom-built Art Panels for conservators, and for artists looking to produce work in unconventional dimensions and shapes – whether tondo, oval, figurative or organic shapes – such challenges are one of our specialties.
Then there are many artists who, particularly for smaller artworks, simply prefer the relative ease of working with Art Panels, plus the rigid, durable qualities they offer.
Direct questions and inquiries are always welcome. Again, we’re all about close creative collaboration with clients, striving to meet their objectives and budget whenever possible.
But we have also compiled some background information about Art Panels for a general orientation. (And you can scroll down to our specific panel types at any point.)
ART PANEL PROGRESS
Solid wood art panels feature extensively throughout Renaissance painting, but go much further back in history, with pieces still in existence that date back to the 2nd century. The process of creating sufficiently smooth panel surfaces from wood in those eras was a difficult and time-consuming challenge.
Eventually, the introduction of manufactured or engineered wood materials allowed for building art panels with a more uniform appearance and stronger, more stable structure.
How we build our Art Panels
We cut our Art Panels using machine technology and tools, but purposefully work on a small production scale that prioritizes the human factor, with the skill and eye of an experienced craftsman vetting every detail.
Features of our Art Panels
Again, standard we produce breaks down largely to the quality of the materials and the strength and precision of the design.
THE IMPORTANCE OF WOOD
Wood quality is paramount.
We meticulously source and scrutinize every piece of wood that enters our studio. Clear lumber is key and, in our experience over three decades, only certain woods are suitable for making panels.
AMERICAN BIRCH PLYWOOD
All of our wood Art Panels are made of high-quality, fine-grained American birch plywood. Distinguished by an even texture, American birch plywood is a strong, stiff hardwood that stains and finishes well –– remaining durable over time.
For our wood panel options, we strongly recommend the added protection of sealing. Whether using a clear shellac, or B-I-N® (a white, shellac-based primer-sealer), or Camger (a water-based polyurethane), sealing the wood diminishes any drying out and reduces significantly the possibility of future twisting.
Sealing, of course, isn’t fool-proof. All wood will invariably move at least slightly over great lengths of time. But sealing enhances stability considerably.
Simon Liu Inc.
Art Panel Types
We offer a selection of high-quality options to accommodate just about every conceivable conservator or artist project.
Some of our Art Panels are intended for the direct application of paint while others are intended to support canvas, as with our Semi-Rigid Art Panel, featuring an acid-free Gatorfoam® board.
In terms of creating new work, panels are often preferred by artists working with relatively inflexible media like encaustic, tempera, and casein paints.
But whatever the use, our panels are built to last.
We also offer hanging systems for all our panels: 45-degree beveled French cleats, cleats with a lip, or a z-clip hanging system.
Single-Sided Art Panels
Rigid and reliable, with the face comprised of a single piece of furniture-grade 1/4" birch plywood with a whole-piece face veneer atop a well-structured strainer, our Single-Sided Art Panels are the most economical art support option.
Specifications: Along with the option of built-in cleats, we have two types of cradling for our Single-Sided panels: L-shaped or rectangular stock. The standard thickness of a single-sided panel is 2". Reverse stock and flip stock are available upon request (and only reverse stock with a beveled back requires any additional charge).
Double-Sided Art Panels
A considerable upgrade in strength and quality from the Single-Sided option, our popular Double-Sided Art Panels offer extra durability. Artists working with heavier collage pieces that need to be affixed to the surface often rely on this panel form.
Specifications: Constructed with two furniture-grade American birch plywood skins sandwiching a 1/8" wood grid core.
Composite Art Panels
Our Composite Art Panels provide exceptionally rigid, stable support for painting. We have two versions: one with an aluminum surface and aluminum honeycomb core, the other with a fiberglass surface and fiberglass honeycomb core. Both are lightweight and durable, with honeycomb fiberglass also being humidity insensitive.
Specifications: Sheets are available in 3/8" and we also offer six different edge treatments: epoxy filled; wood; wood with a V-groove; wrapped-around wood; wood with a built-in cleat; or angled aluminum with wood filler. We can also add maple or birch wood veneers to the face, with additional wood veneers available upon request.
Semi-Rigid Art Panels
Lighter than Single-Sided options, our Semi-Rigid design –– featuring an acid-free Gatorfoam® board supported by a wooden cradle –– is ideal for artists who use a lot of pressure during their painting process.
(There is no need to worry about touching the crossbars.) Semi-Rigid Art Panels are intended for stretching canvas over. The Gatorfoam® surface is not suitable for direct painting.
Specifications: Made in the United States, Gatorfoam® is comprised of extruded polystyrene foam bonded between two layers of wood-fiber veneer. And we offer three different panel profiles: one without air space, one with sleight air space, and one with deep air space.
Dibond Art Panels
Extremely flat with a highly smooth surface, Dibond® is the industry's leading aluminum composite material. Comprised of two strong, pre-painted sheets of 0.012" aluminum with a solid polyethylene core, our Dibond® design affords flexibility, durability and versatility –– all in one extremely strong yet lightweight construction. Our Diamond® art panels can host canvas or be painted on directly.
Specifications: We offer three different edge-and-cradle treatments: mitered edge, cradled, or wrapped-around. 4'x8' or 5x10’ Dibond sheets, both 3mm thick, featuring white polyester paint.
Shaped Art Panels
Whether you will be painting directly on the surface or using the panel to host stretched canvas, our Shaped Art Panels are the art support answer for the unusual. We specialize in accommodating a wide range of custom-shapes. And when it comes to round, oval, triangular, geometric, organic, or any complex and unconventionally-shaped artworks, difficult challenges are our specialty.
Specifications: Our Shaped Art Panels are constructed from a 1/4" piece of furniture-grade American birch plywood atop a well-built strainer.
Keyable Art Panels
Valued by conservators, this inspired Simon Liu invention lends keyability to fine art panels. The design of our Keyable Art Panels compensates for any looseness in the canvas while also providing an exceptionally rigid painting surface and overall support. This is the ideal art support for conservators restoring an artwork where rigid backing is needed, but they also want to stretch the canvas lightly, avoiding too much stress on the perimeters. From there, they can key it out for optimal tension.
Specifications: We offer surfaces in either 3/8" fiberglass honeycomb or 1/4" plywood.