I rarely experiment with surfaces. I've found a canvas I love and stretch most of my pieces myself using purchased stretcher bars (I'm not that much of a purist that I create those by hand too!). This prep process is fine for larger pieces. Over the past year I've experimented with gessobord as a surface for smaller works liking the 3/4" profile in depth and expecting that I'd like the smoothness. The fact that you can purchase it cradled affording me a back frame to hold onto when I paint and making the work ready to hang were also pluses. However, I find myself struggling with the board--something to do with absorption and drying--and only 1/4 of these paintings actually make it to completion. Not a good ratio considering the fact that they're $15 a pop. So, onto another surface experiment I go for my smaller works.
The above painting (not complete but shown here for example only) was created on a 14 x 18" clear gesso linen panel. The raw linen peaks through in places and because it's fabric and not board, the absorption I need with my process is happening again. I like the idea of presenting the work as a framed piece with a matte sans glass or acrylic. And, since I've loved maple frames forever, finding a way to finish my work with a maple frame is important to me. Although the finished pieces measures in at 21 3/4 x 17 3/4--maybe not small for some folks--I think this might be my new format for smaller works--for the time being.