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29 November 2010

Making Progress...

I've prepared three panels, so far, with Gamblin's "Traditional Gesso". The 36x48 inch panel turned out to be the wrong proprtion for the painting I had in mind, so--since I already had heavy duty stretcher bars the right size, plus plenty of raw canvas--I prepared a 36 x 60 inch canvas, which I'll use for that painting instead.

I don't know, right now, what I'm going to paint on the 36x48 inch panel, but it's ready to go, whenever I decide.

I've started sketching out the basic composition to a new painting on one of the "smaller" (30 x 48 inch) "traditionally gessoed" panels. This is a "re-do" of a painting I started in college (seniour year, 2006 -2007) but never finished. I'm looking forward to doing it "right", this time.

So far, I'm really liking how the "Traditional Gesso" surface responds to charcoal pencil--and to erasing, too! The next step will be to find out how it responds to paint...

I've finished the legs on the commissioned tarantula sculpture. I'm going to try to finish sculpting and painting it (and the drawing of my girlfriend's children) this week. My client called last week to make sure it would be done in time for him to give it to his wife for Christmas, and he seemed genuinely pleased when I told him it would be. (Yes, it's good when people like what I do and are willing to pay me to do it!)

14 November 2010

Sun Spider finished...

This is a new painting, Sun Spider, 3x3 inches, oil on panel. I've bought a bunch of small, square frames over the past year or so, and am finally getting around to making some miniature spider paintings, which I'm going to offer in my Etsy shop.

Sun Spider
is the first of these paintings. There will be no reproductions of this painting, so its owner will have a true, original work of art.


Panel Preparation for New Painting...

This is how I prepared my latest panel: a 36x48x1/4 inch oak plywood panel.

I bought a sheet of 4x8 foot oak panel at the hardware store, cut a 36x48 inch piece from it. I mitred some pieces of select pine to "cradle" the panel. These were then glued into place around the edges, and three additional pine pieces were glued across the back for bracing.

I used a bungee cord to pull it tight at the corners (photo 1), then And it was clamped along the entire length as it was glued (photo 2), then I weighed the braces down (since I didn't have clamps wide enough to reach across the panel - photo 3.)

This photo should give you a clearer idea of how the panel was constructed.

(I have a router and several dovetail jigs, and plan to dovetail the cradling on my panels from now on.)

Gluing the four pieces of the cradle and the bracing took a couple evenings.

I had been wanting to try Gamblin's "Traditional Gesso" (titanium dioxide, gypsum, animal hide glue, marble dust) for quite some time. I had purchased some (and a double-boiler) several months ago. I decided to use it on this panel, to see how I liked it.

Last week, I mixed up one batch of the "Traditional Gesso" and applied it to the front of the panel. The gesso gets very thin and runny after heating. I ended up applying four coats, sanding with 150-grit sandpaper between the second and third coats, and 220-grit sandpaper between the third and fourth coats. Preparing the panel with gesso took three evenings.

The panel's surface is super-smooth, and very white, and has a slight "chalky" feel.

Why paint on panel? (And, why go to all this time and trouble?)

Firstl, I don't like the "give" of stretched canvas, especially when working this size. Painting on panel feels very much like painting on illustration board, which I did for many years as an airbrush artist. Second, I don't like the canvas' texture. If I want texture in my paintings, I want to put it in, myself. Otherwise, I want the surface to be very smooth, far smoother than canvas usually is.

The trouble is because I want to know what it's like to paint on "real" gesso, as opposed to the "plastic"-feeling acrylic-based stuff. I might not like it (and for that, and many other reasons, this whole painting could fall apart, and I would either have to start over, or scrap it altogether. Either way, I'll have learned something.)

08 November 2010

Nearly ready to begin...

So far, November is proceeding rather well. I picked up the check this morning for the airbrush work I did last weekend, and most of my errand-running is now done for the day. I'm hoping to work on the sculpture, a drawing of my girlfriend's kids (that I've promised her for Chanukah this year (I began the drawing on the first day of Chanukah last year!) and do the final sanding on the 36x48 inch panel I've spent the past week preparing (a process I described in my previous entry) today.

I'm planning a detailed seies of posts about the painting I'm planning for that panel, which will be also be posted as a "Work In Progress" thread in the oil painting forum at I'm going to cover every step of the painting process, and also highlight the thinking that goes into the painting: conceptually, as well as technically.

This will be my first "major" painting since graduation, and I'm really going to push myself with this painting. I'm going to try to have it done in time to show at the group show in February, but it must be finished in time for my solo show in April (along with several other pieces--including at least one other "major" painting--which I will also post here, as well.)

Anyway, enough about what I'm going to do.

Lots of cool stuff coming soon.

Thanks for reading!

(The picture is Sun Spider, a work-in-progress, 3x3 inches, oil on panel.)

01 November 2010

Deadlines and Commitments...

November begins; five months to my solo show.

I mixed up some Gamblin Traditional Gesso last night; I’m going to prepare at least one panel tonight. (You have to wait 12 – 24 hours after preparing the gesso—and it has to be heated in a double boiler—before it can be applied to a rigid support.)
I’ve been working on a new, two-figure drawing for the past month or so, and I can’t wait to get started on the painting part (but patience is a virtue). I’m hoping that this painting will be good enough to serve as the “centerpiece” for the show.

Time will tell.

I’m feeling really good right now. I spent six hours Saturday afternoon airbrushing flat colour onto four sheets of expensive, handmade paper, for a lady who does restoration work for several museums around the world. The colour I was applying needed to perfectly match the colour of the backing paper on a Chinese screen she had restored. She was pleased with my work (and a little extra money will come in very handy at the moment!)

You really can’t over state how good it feels to successfully complete a demanding task!
* * * *

I made a list of the pieces I want to create for the show in April, and I made a separate (and, honestly, rather reasonable) list of the work I need to complete this month. I’m going to pay particular attention to making sure I spend three to four nights each week, working in the studio. I wasn’t able to do that in October (for a variety of reasons), and I want to feel like I’ve “kept up” with my “list” in November.

* * * *

I have made a good start on the commissioned tarantula (see photo). It needs to be done (along with several other projects) by the end of this month, and I think it will be.

So, the month is off to a good start, and my main “task” is simply not to lose any momentum.