I've recently been experimenting with AlumaCorp aluminum painting panels. The ones I've bought have been unprimed so I thought I'd let you know what I do to prepare them for painting with oil.
I might note that the main objective in my experimenting thus far was to make the panel durable while still enabling the aluminum background to show. Otherwise, the panels don't have to be primed. You can see the results of the first attempt of painting on a panel primed with this method with the little hummingbird I posted HERE.
Here is the panel as I received it and the process I followed for the hummingbird panel as well as another painting which I'll show in a moment:
If you click on the photos above to enlarge, you'll see some information about the panel and that the panels have some very sharp edges! I have not received any panel that did not need these edges filed off for safety's sake!
So, the first step is remove the protective paper on the side you want to use then take a file or some sandpaper and file or sand the edges only. You don't want to mess up the actual surface of the panel by careless sanding. Fortunately, it only takes a couple of swipes to blunt the edges. This step is crucial to help save both skin and brushes!
You may need to scuff the surface of the panel just a little to insure adhesion of your primer. Some steel wool is probably all you'll need but be gentle with it!
After scuffing the surface, clean well with alcohol to remove any grease or fingerprints and handle the panel carefully from now on.
If you want the aluminum finish to show through your painting, I recommend Golden's GAC 100 which is a clear sealer medium for many surfaces. I used 2 coats letting it dry thoroughly between coats. I also used a roller and rolled the medium on in one direction (say, vertically), let dry, then rolled the second coat at right angles (horizontally).
After priming, let the panel dry for several days as per directions on the GAC 100 container.
I had fun painting the hummingbird and like the AlumaCorp panels a lot. However, I wanted to see how the different mediums I use behaved on the panels.
The panels are very thin pieces of aluminum sandwiched between some kind of foamcore. While I'm sure the aluminum can take the heat needed for the Genesis paints, the foam doesn't do so well with it. The panel warped with the first heating and smelled awful! Not only that, the paint crackled. If you click on the photo to enlarge, you should be able to see what I mean by looking at the ears.
At this point, I decided to just quit working on this particular painting. I'm sure the warping and smell was due to the foamcore center of the panel. I'm not sure whether the crackling was due to the heat, the GAC 100 or the fact that the panel warped.
One other thing I've found is that the glare from the aluminum makes it very difficult to see the overall painting as you work. I was working during hurricane Florence when the days were very gloomy. I had studio lights on with daylight bulbs and it could be that those lights weren't aimed in a way conducive to painting on the aluminum. They didn't shine directly on the surface but whatever the cause, I found this painting very hard to see because of the glare and reflecting of the surface.
These are just my thoughts on using the panels so far. I like a solid surface and don't like the bounce of most canvas so these panels are great for that. I think in the future I'll either buy preprimed panels or use a colored gesso to prime and won't even try to use the bare metal as part of the painting. I have heard that some artists scratch through the paint and primer to reveal the metal as accents in the painting and that might be a experiment for a future painting.
As to whether I use these panels on a regular basis, it will be based on cost comparisons with other supports, particularly birch or hardboard. Since I've just gotten small samples at minimal cost to date, I'll do the comparisons when I need supports for larger paintings at a later date.
If you have any questions, I'll try to answer if you leave me a comment below!