May, 2012

In the beginning…

Every painting starts with preparing the surface. It’s not the most enjoyable part of the painting process, but absolutely necessary. Since I paint with a high level of ¬†detail I need a pretty smooth surface. I’ve recently started to paint on wood panels. I enjoy the surface much more than canvas and it eliminates the problems I’ve had with stretcher bars warping on my canvas.

I try to prepare several panels at a time. Right now I’m using an acrylic gesso, but I’m in the midst of trying out an oil based primer (I’ll let you know how that turns out in a future post).

I’ve found that a foam roller like this gets me the nice, smooth surface that I want.











It’s a simple process. I lay out my panels and roll on thin layers of gesso. I’ve found that if I try to use too much gesso on a layer it tends to create problems. The surface ends up with heavy texture in some areas and little texture in other areas. So I opt for very thin layers of gesso.











Right now I apply no less than five layers. I lightly sand between each layer and with acrylic gesso I can reapply every 30 minutes or so if I want. After I lay down the coat of gesso I go back over it several times with the roller, allowing just the weight of the roller to smooth the surface out. The surface doesn’t end up smooth like glass but has a slight tooth, which I prefer. Hopefully this image will give you some idea of the texture:











In between coats I wrap my roller with a plastic grocery bag. I’ve found that it will stay wet for weeks this way.











If you prefer more texture you can swap out the foam roller for a fuzzy roller.





I’ve been experimenting with atmospheric backgrounds lately, thought I’d share how I’m going about it.

Here in this first photo are my materials, standard stuff. I’m thinning my colors with Gamblin’s Galkyd Lite.

Panel with palette and brushes.









In the next step I start scrubbing the colors in according to a loose idea in my head. In this case I wanted the colors to transition from dark in the lower left corner to light in the upper right.

Starting to paint.









I’m not trying to blend at this point, just laying my colors in until I end up with ¬†something like this, at which point I’ll use the big brush on the left to blend it together. The big brush is actually a brush for faux finishing that I picked up at Lowe’s.

Ready to blend the colors.









I work the surface in all directions with the blender. I blended these colors for about five minutes, working in every direction and cleaning the brush with a cloth every once in a while. Here’s how it ended up:

The end result.









Now I’ll let it dry and figure out what to paint on it.