Friday, March 30, 2012

Large Panel Holders

Panel Holders. Front One For 16" x 20" Panels and Back One For 18" x 24" Panels.

Last December I did a blog post about holders for small painting panels. You can find that here. Those are fine for little panels but for packing around larger panels - say, 16" x 20" or 18" x 24", something lighter weight would be better, I think. Like the smaller holders these are for transporting primed painting panels into the field for use and transporting freshly finished paintings back.

16" x 20" Holder with One Panel Removed
So I went to a friend's wood shop and we appropriated some salvaged pine that was once part of a cheap living room sofa. There I made the two panel holders pictured throughout this post. These could be made out of better wood, I suppose, but knot-free pine works just fine. Besides I'm going to be hauling and dragging them all over hill and dale, so why beat up expensive hardwood? You, however can make yours out of ebony with gold inlay and fine mother-of pearl marquetry if you'd like.

Skeletal Holders Sans Panels
CAUTION: when working with power tools or any woodworking tools, be sure to understand and use safe wood working methods and use all safety equipment. If you can count to ten on your fingers before you begin, be sure you still can afterwards. Nine and a half would not be good. Less would be even worse. Wear proper eye protection so you can still see if you have fingers later! 

First, I cut the strips that make up the frames and rabbeted them on a table saw. The rabbets* are sized to allow plenty of room for panels 3/8" thick or so, even though the panels I generally use are 1/4" or less. Next they were cut to length and the ends were cut for joining. The frame sections were assembled with wood glue and grabber screws - a single screw per corner.

The picture above shows the assembled frame with the rabbet and how the corners were cut and joined. The illustration below is of a cross section on the lower frame section showing how the vertical cuts of the rabbet were angled. This reduces contact with the painted side of a freshly painted panel while providing ample support for the painting.  An angle of 5 deg. or so would probably be enough.

Triangles were cut to reinforce the corners and attached with glue and grabber screws. These holders are intended to hold two wet painting panels facing toward each other. The next photo shows the space between the triangle braces and painting panel. The gap allows room for wet paintings to be placed in the holder without smearing paint against the triangle.

There's a couple of these little metal things at the top of both sides of the panel holders. They secure the top of the panel into the top of the holder. I forget what they're called but you can get them at any place that sells hardware or picture framing supplies. Their disadvantage is that they allow the panel to rattle around in the top of the holder. Annoying but not serious.

I found these neat mirror retainers at a local woodworking supply shop. There's a couple of them at the bottom of both sides of the panel holders. They do hold the bottom of the painting firmly in place, but the retainers stick out and snag on things when carrying the panel holders through brush or moving them in or out of the car. In spite of that, I may replace the top hardware with more of these.

These things work, but if anyone out there has any suggestions about better ways to secure painting panels in the holders, you're welcome to let me know. I've tried securing them with big rubber bands but that didn't work.

Finally, I found some really cool hardware to add to the panel holders to allow them to be carried easily.

I found these neat (and inexpensive) handles to add to the holders. They go well with the slightly rough look of the pine, no?

These groovy ring pulls were left over from another project. One at the top of each corner gives a place for a carrying strap to be attached. They're fastened by a bolt through the frame. If you decide to use these sorts of things on your panel holders (made out of ebony with gold inlay and fine mother-of-pearl marquetry), be sure to drill the bolt holes before you assemble the frame, and attach the hardware before you attach the triangle reinforcements. Otherwise you'll have to think of some other way to do that. Bon assemblage!

*That's rabbets, not rabbits. No bunnies were harmed in the making of these panel holders! At least not until rabbit season.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pucker Up!

12" x 9" Pastel on Coated Paper
The Sketch shown above is from a few weeks ago at one of the weekly drawing sessions. What was she doing? Was she blowing the artist a kiss? It wouldn't be hard to dispel that notion! Was she trying to get some caramel candy unstuck from a filling? Ew! No. Perhaps her mother's warning that "Keep making those faces and your face will freeze like that" actually came true? Didn't seem so. Well, what was it then? 

This woman is our "Andrew Loomis" style model. She likes to collect retro clothing and props and uses them when she models for us. This evening she was dressed in a strapless dress, black with white polka-dots. In her right hand she held a compact where she could see the mirror. In her left hand she held a tube of lipstick of the same killer red she had on her lips. Her pose was of a 40's or 50's era doll who was checking the lipstick she had just applied. 

We were concerned with her trying to hold that pose and expression, twenty minutes at a time for two and a half hours. Wouldn't it become painful after a while? She insisted though and wouldn't be talked out of it. Although her eyes went funny a couple of times she successfully held that pose for the entire session, seemingly without any unpleasant consequences. It was good to draw something other than a usual model's expression, and this sketch was a blast to do!

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mountainside Cliffrose

Mountainside Cliffrose, 8" x 10" Oil on Panel
A little over a week ago the weather was warm and pleasant, at least for March, so I headed out to paint. This time of year can seem rather colorless with all those grays and browns outdoors, but there is beauty to be appreciated in all seasons. I love being outdoors in any season. On this particular day I wanted to paint something wild and green, so I headed to the mountains looking for something evergreen. At the east edge of town I hiked up the mountainside toward some junipers and cliffrose visible a few hundred feet up the slope.  Following steep game trails and winding my way around stands of Gamble Oak I came to a sizable cliffrose. Using an 8" x 10" pochade box, I painted the picture shown above. Down below me I could see the bustle of activity in town, and also see joggers, bicyclists and dog walkers on the popular bench trail, but there was no one else up where I was. Sometimes I'll travel for hours looking for new places to paint, but I certainly can't overlook the rich supply of subjects and wild places right here by town!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lights and Darks

Asian Woman with Cap, Charcoal and White Pencil on Gray Paper
In drawing sessions I've been lucky enough to attend over the years, there's been a wide variety of models. People of many different nationalities, races and backgrounds have posed for the class. 

Such variety is invaluable to improving drawing skills. Instead of thinking "this is how you draw eyes" or "this is how you draw noses" in rote manner, look to see what is there. Learning by seeing is a kind of exploration. Formulaic drawing risks stagnation.

It may sound annoyingly simplistic, but drawing can be boiled down to this: You put the lights where the lights go and the darks where the darks go. Done in proper relation to each other, lights and darks are what shape the face (or anything for that matter), not necessarily eyes, nose and mouth. Properly place the values on the paper or canvas, and everything else will take care of itself.

For more about drawing sessions, go to "Labels" on the side bar and click on "sketching" or "drawing."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Late Winter Along a Valley Road

8" x 10" Oil on Panel
This is a quick little oil painting done late last month along a road near the lake. The road runs along a dike that surrounds the airport and protects it from the lake. Much of the road is narrow, rough, gravel and dirt, but it provides access to beautiful areas of the lake with wide open vistas, often rich with wildlife. I've done many paintings along this road. 

The painting pictured above is of one of the few areas along the road closed in on both sides by trees and brush. This section of road is between the airport road and the lake. The uneven nature of the cottonwood trees and the contrast between them and the reddish tamerisk brush appealed to me. The reason why the cottonwoods are uneven is included in the painting.