I picked up a bunch up wood panels today from Scooters Plywood and Joinery here in Whangarei an excellent local source of high quality plywood.
I've been painting my 5x7's on Kauri but I find for the smaller painting sizes that pine works quite well and is a very stable substrate. Since I like to texture my smaller panels before painting, using kuari is a waste. The reason I like to use kuari for my larger pieces is because it has such a lovely, fine grain.
I'm doing a lot of small paintings at the moment. I enjoy them. The smaller size allows me to sell them at reasonable prices. Frankly, they are a super good value. Though they are small, I put a lot of time and care into them.
I recently purchased a bunch of panels that did not work out. They were a nice hardwood, but the grain depth was so deep that it became intrusive to the painting. A lesson I'd learned once before but forgot...
My friend Barry suggested mounting some cotton duck to the board's. I occasionally enjoy working on canvas but never at small sizes. At a size like 5x5 or 5x7 the weave of most grades of canvas is too coarse, the texture dominates the art to much for my taste.
Each of us as artists must seek and find the substrate and painting medium that suits us best. This is not something to take lightly as how a painting starts is generally the most important phase of the work. If you have to struggle against your materials, it will show in the final work. Better to spend a little bit more on your surface, or take a bit of extra time prepping the surface before starting to paint.
A bit about "Breaking Light". I finished this a few moths ago and it's in my family's private collection. The original version of this painting had a very different sky. Sort of a God's eye type of composition.
That never satisfied me, so one day I painted in the sky you see here and I'm really happy with it now. The scene is very reflective of my adopted homeland of New Zealand. A country that is 95% rural.
I think this painting shows what you can do with a big brush on a small piece. I've written quite a bit about brush handling on my blogs so please search if you're interested.