I'm part of an art Co-Op here in Lewiston, ID - The Creative Shop. (in Morgans Alley, Downtown Lewiston) We offer "Challenges" every couple months. It draws in a number of artists from the area - the current challenge - "Grab Bag" Challenge, has over 46 people participating.
Each artist picked a number and got a bag of materials with the matching number, as well as "an inspirational object". I picked #42. (yes, my age)
In my bag:
1 (9x9) deep gallery wrap canvas
1 (11x14) canvasboard
2 (5x7) folded cards
4 (2.5x3.5) ATC cards
5 (4x4) canvasboards
My inspirational object? A polished (aka tumbled) river rock - deep blood red, cream stripe... funny I got the rock because it was one of the objects I donated! It was meant to be.
So - I started idea generating and decided to get started on the 4x4 canvasboards. I really don't like canvasboards. However, they are cheap & light. Great for schlepping out for plein air painting, great for studies and experiments - and if you hate it, just pitch it.
The problem I have with canvasboard is the amount of "tooth" from the primed canvas. I spend a lot of my time fighting this texture, and it's annoying (to me) to see it in the finished piece. I've worked with canvasboard for a number of Challenges (here and in Seattle) and I was given this particular tip by another participating artist. Acrylic Modeling Paste!
Using your handy palette knife (see above) apply a "skim coat" of acrylic modeling paste to the canvasboard. Not thick, but enough to fill up that canvas texture. Let dry, sand. Add another layer if desired. Seal with two or three coats of acrylic gesso. I know it seems redundant to re-gesso, since the boards arrive pre-primed. But the modeling paste is a little abrasive to paint on, the second layer of gesso helps.
Let dry - and you are ready to create! Oh - if you don't like regular Modeling Paste there is a "Light" Modeling Paste, that works just as well.
The Grab Bag Challenge will be up for our ArtWalk in September. If everyone actually turns in everything - we will potentially have almost 700 pieces for show & sale! Where will we put all the artwork? Stay tuned!