Studio Work

“Studio Work” sounds more creative than it turns out to be. It’s catching up on all the things that are required to make paintings presentable to the public. Framing is one kind of studio work, perhaps the easiest, because I tend to use standard-sized canvases and off-the-shelf frames.

But of course, there are those pieces that start as experiments but take on a life of their own. Because they weren’t considered seriously at the beginning, subsequent “finishing” can a dicey affair. Take, for example, the Back Wall Paintings from the Basin (Montana) in Winter, 2007-08, series:

BasinRefugeWholeRefugeFixedThe paintings, pinned to the wall and being about 8 feet wide total, are meant to be displayed together, but separate. But they are on unstretched canvas, convenient for painting and hauling cross country but not presentable. They needed some kind of support and “framing”.

So last summer, I got birch plywood cut to fit (I thought) each separate canvas.  I found out how to make archival glue and learned that I should place a layer of archival paper between the painting and the wood.The plywood lay on a table (flat so it wouldn’t warp) from last summer until this week (well, it’s only a month or two into the next summer, right?).

Knowing it was beyond time and I wanted my workspace in the basement back, I took a deep breath and started the real work.  To be on the safe side, I took one of the smallest pieces and tried out the process. Immediately it was clear that the boards were cut to size but the canvas shrank when the rice glue was used. The practice piece proved that the gluing process could be reversed, since I thought I might be able to fudge and so glued the canvas to the slightly big board. Fudging didn’t work, but the canvas, although dried tight, could be removed with water and gentle  lifting. Whew!

The boards were recut by a generous neighbor. I got the archival paper glued to the boards and I pressed them (using gallon jugs of water) for a couple of days to make sure the adherence was good. So I was ready, after only two years, to actually put one of the Back Wall canvases on a support and hang it for real.


Alas, I forgot that the sides of the plywood, to be anything like respectable,needed a coat of paint. So back to clearing off the workspace, putting away the rice paste, and painting the sides of the papered plywood.

BasinBoardsWSo there they sit, waiting for the worktable to be cleared of the other studio work I started while they dried — the stretching of one of the big Death Valley paintings from February. Stay tuned…. June

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3 Responses to Studio Work

  1. Sheila says:

    The blogging has begun! Hood River and Portland have been posted with more to come.

    Interesting stuff, this framing project – I knew there was a reason I’m sticking to fabric..vbg

    Don’t worry about the pact – I’m thinking, but haven’t decided for sure yet. Amazing how quickly life intervenes to disrupt best laid plans. You’re definitely getting more “work” done than I am! We still have a week and a half to “knock” something out…


  2. June says:

    I’m waiting for the next blog on your site. And we have a pact for future work, although I fear that I haven’t thought about how my painting might be dealt with. I’ll try to do better. Tonight I’m hoping to glue the canvas to the paper which is glued to the birch board with its painted sides. Sigh. No one ever promised me that art would be simple……


  3. Sheila says:

    Upon arriving home, I was immediately reminded of the three small quilt pieces ready for framing. I’d ordered frames that arrived a day or two before my trip and I haven’t even cracked open the boxes yet. I too need to clear some table space for cutting the foam board and mounting and putting together of the frames, but I know it will be such a satisfying feeling when they are ready to hang on the wall. The sitting at the sewing machine again to start or continue on the next piece will just have to wait…


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