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A good foundation is key to any art project, but when working with mixed media, it’s especially important to have a good base. While canvas is perfect for painting, and paper is prime for pencil, board is ideal for mixed-media compositions: it holds up to both wet and dry materials and won’t crumple, pill, or dissolve. The mixed-media genre began with cubists Picasso and Braque, who started adding collage elements to their paintings around 1912. The practice spread as artists increasingly wove unconventional materials into their work, and some, like Matisse, Cornell, Dubuffet, and Kelly, adopted the genre. Today, many established artists incorporate a variety of materials in to their pieces. Choose a sturdy board for your next mixed-media project from our selection of the best options below.
1. Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Board
From the well-known brand Strathmore, this pack of four boards will take you through more than one project. Acid- and lignin-free, the boards won’t eat away at adhesives or gessoes and will keep your pigments fade-proof over time. Each 11-by-14-inch board is covered on both sides with a 100% cotton paper with a slightly textured vellum surface.
Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Board
2. Canson Plein Air Mix-Media Art Board Pad
Canson’s one-sided boards are rigid enough to use anywhere and are covered with a heavyweight paper that can take wet and dry media with equal ease. The boards are acid free and archival, with a bit more texture than an illustration board. This 12-by-16-inch pad contains ten top-glued sheets.
Canson Plein Air Mix-Media Art Board Pad
3. Crescent Art and Illustration Board
If your work tends more toward pencils and oil pastels, Crescent’s 3-pack of individually wrapped 11-by-14-inch boards is a good choice. The medium-weight boards are 14 ply and contain a high rag content. Though they aren’t the best option for wet media, they are well suited to collage and drawing.
Crescent Art and Illustration Board
4. Ampersand Claybord
Those who haven’t tried Ampersand’s Claybord are in for a surprise. The boards are sealed and then covered with a pH-neutral kaolin clay that is glass smooth and ultra absorbent. Similar in texture to the gessoed panels used for egg tempera in the Renaissance, the board works especially well with oil paint and is also a good choice for a wide range of other media.
5. Multimedia Artboard
Like our pick above, the Multimedia Artboard has a sturdy surface that can be scraped down, erased and, in this case, even sanded. This is due to its mix of thermal-set epoxy and wood pulp, which feels like paper but is much more resilient. The double-sided boards do not need to be gessoed and your media will not bleed.