Friday, June 12, 2009

Painting for the Day: "Tomatoes in a Glass Bowl", plus making plastic sleeves for paintings

Thank you to Loredana of Torino, Italy who helped me with the correct title of yesterday's painting!

"Tomatoes in a Glass Bowl" - oil - 10" x 10"

I bought a set of these blue glass bowls with raised dots on them years ago at a Target store. I've used them at models a number of times, and continue to find them interesting and challenging to render. The fabric in the background is a favorite tablecloth.


This may be my last post for a few days or more. Today I'm loading up the show tent, paintings, and all the other stuff to set up at the Summer Art Market. The forecast promises (threatens?) rain through the weekend, so a rain jacket is in with the mix. (Weather update, 6 a.m. Saturday: Make that lightning, funnel clouds, heavy rain, and golf-ball sized hail...?)

Because I like to share ideas with other artists on practical matters, today I'm including a photo of my transport bags. I've had positive comments from gallery owners and show presenters. At outdoor shows, they are not only a handy way to bring the work in, but when someone buys a piece, It can easily/quickly be slipped in its bag, protecting it from fingerprints and rain, but still visible to the rest of the shopping crowd. Pretty cool, huh?

I make my reusable transport/storage bags out of 4ML plastic sheeting. This comes in a 100 foot wide roll (unfolds to 8' 4"), and can be found at construction supply stores, like Home Depot and Lowes. A roll lasts me a couple years. I've made bags as large as for a 40"x 60" canvas, and small as for a 10"x10" (shown at right). For smaller paintings, gallon size Zip-Lock bags work very well. Wish they made larger ones!

If you want to try this, it helps to have a large clean table to set up on.

  • Cut a piece of plastic sheeting using your canvas as a guide, leaving at least two inches on the left and right sides. Plus you'll want to fold the plastic in half; the fold will be the 'bottom' of your bag. Leave an extra 4 inches or so at the top so the bag can be grabbed or folded over. (So for example, for a 10" x10" canvas, cut a piece of plastic about 14"x28", and fold in half to 14" square to begin).
  • Using an iron at the very lowest setting (dry, no steam), place the folded plastic on top of sheet of newspaper. Fold one side over about 3/4", smoothing with your hand, and then fold it again. Place another sheet of newspaper on top. Carefully iron the edge of the bag, checking that you aren't melting the plastic. The heat will help make a nice flat fold. Using clear 2" packing tape, start at the edge of the bag and tape over the fold, finishing with a bit of tape to the inside of the bag, and over the bottom side edge. Repeat for the other side of the bag.
  • To keep track of the bags at art fairs, I mark the size on the upper corner with a Sharpie marker. When transporting paintings, I place them in the plastic sleeves, and box matching sizes face-to-face and back-to-back (this avoids injury to the painting surface from backing screws).
  • When hanging the artwork, I place the S-hook (or a nail or picture hanger for a wall, if you are inside), and then slide the plastic down partway. Once the painting is attached to the hanger, I slide the bag off (so I've hung the painting and not touched the surface once). Then I store the plastic sleeves upright in boxes of corresponding size, for easy access for sales, and for packing up at the end of the event.

How do you wrap and transport/store your paintings? I'm always looking for new and better ways of doing things.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Painting for the Day: "Off Duty", and finishing the backs of stretched canvases

Thanks for all your nice comments this weekend!
"Off Duty" - oil - 8"x10"

Inspired by the recent
Different Strokes week 32-34 challenge of Madison Avenue, NYC, I decided to try another taxi painting. I don't know much about cars, but found the colors in this scene irresistible.


Finishing the back of your stretched canvas

Because I work on wrap-stretched canvas, I paint the sides as I go to alleviate the necessity of framing. I also back my paintings in a manner that I've had a few comments on, so I thought I'd share that today. I'd be interested in hearing what your method is for finishing off the back of your paintings.

My personal choice is to back my canvases with Tyvek, which is a fiberglass paper that doesn't tear. Some art supply stores will sell it by the yard; I buy a 50 yard roll from a local sign supply which gets me through a couple years. White or brown kraft paper is still standard for professional framing shops and is a good choice (less expensive, too).

To streamline this task, I keep a template sized for each standard canvas that I commonly use(A), in the size of the wood inset on the back of the canvas. I cut these out of mat board scraps and label them. (TIP: make friends with a frame shop. Often they have a large supply of mat board scraps that they are happy to give to you free or sell at a low cost.)

When cutting the Tyvek or paper, lay the template on top, and then lay a metal ruler over the edge; this will keep you from slicing into the template.

(B) Line the perimeter of the backing paper with adhesive transfer tape (3M's product is 924 ATG; Jerry's Artarama carries a store brand for a much better price). Strip the backing off the adhesive, lay the backing paper over the wood on the canvas, adjust and press into place (D).

Using a scrap of mat board that has marks for placing screws for every size of canvas I use (which is faster than a ruler or measuring tape), I attach all small D-rings and plastic coated picture wire.

I finish with a label on the the back that lists my web address.

Why back the painting at all? Many years I found out the hard way that stretched canvases stored, or even hanging on a wall over a length of time can end up collecting a lot of stuff in the back... dust, spiders, etc. Much of this can be removed using clear packing tape, but sometimes chunky detritus can work its way down to the front edge of your painting and make a series of lumps... pretty unsightly! Backing a canvas can gives it a nice clean, professional look. It sends a signal that you value your work.

I also store paintings custom size plastic bags that I make... more on that in the next post or so.

So what's your method? I'm always look for new and improved ways of doing things. Would love to hear your ideas.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Painting for the Day: "Olè"

"Olè" - oil - 12" x 16"

Sometimes a wonderful compliment comes through the email, in this case from someone who happens to collect my work...
"It will be fun to see what else you have been working on. It's always really hard for me to pick something from your oeuvre. Your pieces are better than prozac - they always lift my mood!!"
...Thanks, Carleen!

(Too busy to write much today, but I missed you so here's something zesty to look at. Talk to you soon! )

From my inbox, for those of you that like Painting Contests:
Jerry's Artarama, the great discount art supplier, has several Cash Prize Contests listed...prizes also include publication on the cover of Jerry's catalogs. Click here for details.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Postcards - Supersize Calling Cards

When the digital printing revolution took off, it began with postcards. At least that's how I remember it; if business cards were offered I didn't notice at the time. I had my first full color postcard printed by Modern Postcard for a show in 1995, with this painting on it ( I was in a Co-op gallery and we all had to do our own show promotions-- a great learning experience).

"Hot House Roses" - oil - 28" x 28" - SOLD

I quickly realized how much help these art cards were in answering the Inevitable "What Kind of Art Do You Do?" Question: hand someone a big beautiful postcard, and the conversation can really begin. Postcards of your art definitely have a bit of WOW factor, and I always try to have some handy just in case. Back then the minimum order was higher than some companies today, so as a result I still have some after all these years, and now I always order so that I have a stack of extras. Tomorrow I'll write about how the extra cards are still useful years later.

Marian Fortunati asked a good question yesterday; "How do you decide what painting to use on a card or postcard?"

  1. Use your best work (that probably seems like a natural)
  2. For your business card, choose a painting that is representative of your current body of work. So, if you feel your best painting is a portrait you did, but it's a one off and everything else you have is seascapes, then choose your best seascape
    *(an exception to this might be, if you want to offer portraits by commission, have a separate card for that).
    For a show invitation, choose the 'star' painting of your show.
  3. If you do two or more genres of work (for instance, still lifes and landscapes), consider a double sided card, or two or more cards.
  4. Be careful when printing images with a lot of blue; of all the cards I've had printed, blues are the least likely to match. It has to do with that RGB/CMYK thing, I think.
  5. Have reasonable expectations: if you are buying discount printing, there may be some color discrepancy. If the color absolutely must be spot on, choose a more expensive printer and pay for a color proof.

For most of us artists, I'd suggest printing short runs. You can order business cards in runs of 250 quite reasonably; this would get many artists through a year. I usually print a new business card every 1-2 years, depending on how much my work has changed. Postcards can be ordered in quantities starting at 100 at some printers.

I'm still sending out samples of printed postcards; those of you on my mailing list will see one in your mailbox soon! (Want one? Click here).

A big thanks to Megha Chhatbar, who has kindly passed forward the "Passion for Painting" award. Thanks, I'm blushing! I will try to name some awardees this week.