January 27, 2011
Preparing Painting Panels
I spent most of the day today preparing a batch of panels for painting. I find it most efficient to make 6 or 7 at a time, a low tech assembly line. I've had this small table saw in the studio for years, rarely using it, but with this current body of work it's become essential. Since I like to adjust the size of the images I'm going to paint until the last moment, it's easiest for me to cut the panels myself. A few months ago when I showed a knowledgeable friend how I was using the saw, she was appalled. I really had no idea of proper technique, so got an invaluable table saw lesson from my friend and contractor and now I feel moderately comfortable using it. And, my panels are fairly square!
I use 1/2 inch birch plywood for the panels. Here's a 4 x 8 sheet cut up into manageable pieces, with my goggles, which I always wear while using the saw, and a view facing west to the snowy landscape.
I work from photographs and figure out the sizes of the images on my computer screen, then print them out to see if they work. Sometimes I make them bigger, sometimes smaller. I use the color photo to give me a clue as to color, which I then change and adjust. This is why I prefer to look to a black and white image for information.
To see the process of stretching parchment over the panel, go to this post, in which I show, step by step, putting acid-free paper on the panel and then stretching the calfskin.
Here are two calfskins that I will use for the panels. I've already cut some parchment from the top one. They have a luscious smooth surface, which I fell madly in love with when I first painted on parchment. I buy it from Pergamena, in the Hudson River Valley of New York. Their skins are locally sourced and they are wonderful to deal with.
My final step in preparing the panels is to glue a piece of flat wood molding to the back and drilling a hole for a nail. It took me a little while to figure out how to display these tiny paintings; I prefer my paintings unframed and this bit of wood allows the panel to float a little off the wall. Now I am ready for the next few weeks of painting.