Monday, October 16, 2006

Preparing the Large Panels

Paintings in Progress.

Ok, I decided to go ahead and track my progress on these large panels on the blog, since doing that was quite helpful with the barn project last month. So here we go again.

Every time I start a new project, there ends up being some kind of chain reaction in the studio. On Saturday, I did nine more under paintings, here are a few:

and since I hadn't done the final coat on the finished paintings, I had to move a few things around in order to fit the new pieces onto the picture rails. So I had to move the large panel into the adjoining room, which is where Doug works and where my office area is, in order to stack underpaintings on the easel so they could dry. I decided to prepare the large panels in the office area, so I brought in a big table plus a card table to work on so I could two panels prepared. I was worried about the cats jumping up on them, as they seem to feel as if they own every surface in the house but they never did jump up on these. Perhaps they sensed that they would be throttled if they were to land on my wet paint this time.

I am planning to paint one of the 48"x60" panels, as well as the 36"x48" panel and so on Sunday I began to prepare those two panels. I applied two coats of wood primer to the back, and then turned them over and put two coats on the front surface, sanding between each coat. Today I will apply a coat of gesso, the brushy gesso layer that I like to paint on. A light sand, and then I will be ready to do the underpaintings. I know that many artists apply several layers of gesso in order to build up a really thick and smooth surface, but that's not the kind of surface that I am going after, so since the wood is primed well I am going with just one layer of gesso.

Also, on Sunday I coated a few of the finished pieces and today I will be able to move a few things around again and maybe get the large panel back onto the easel so that I can do the underpainting on it on Tuesday. I don't normally do studies for my paintings, preferring instead to work out the image, composition, light and shadows in the underpainting stage, but for the large paintings, I thought that maybe I should do an 8x10 just to have something to go on when I start those. Of course I don't have to be married to the study, I can make changes if I want to, but I like the studies that I did and will probably refer to them as I begin. Guess you could say we're engaged.


James Wolanin said...

Tracy, do you do sketches before you work on the panels, or do you go right to the panels to figure out your composition?

Tracy Helgeson said...

Jim, I never do sketches for a painting. I tend to overwork and over think when I do sketches and lose the spontaneity when I get to the actual piece. I always work every thing out in the under painting stage.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, those sure are purdy. I may have to change my opinion about clear coating the backsides.

When I mentioned a 4 inch brush earlier, I was really thinking of these syntox angular brushes from Purdy that come in 3 inches actually. They are really soft and work well with Liquin glazes. I also like the angle cut, it has more of a feel like an "artist" brush. Pulled on edge you can get a very thin line or dragged traditionally it can softly spread, with a slight twist and pull away you can make a beautiful leaf in one stroke.

Lookin' forward to watching these paintings bloom.

Angela Wales Rockett said...

"engaged"... tee hee. Made me smile.

I really enjoy seeing your process and I can't wait to see what appears on these lovely large panels! Thank you for sharing.

Sometimes the hardest part about getting any painting done is making room for it - and avoiding the cats' paws in the meantime. :) I like your picture rails for drying purposes. I'm going to have to look into installing some in my tiny studio space.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Steven, Great, we have now changed each other's minds about how to finish the backs of our paintings.

I looked through my stash of house painting brushes and unbelievably, I do not have any of those particular brushes, I have every other kind ever made it seems, but not those. I will see if our local hardware store has any and give one a try. It sure would be nice if they will do what I want. Thanks for the tip.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Hi Angela, I AM starting to feel as if half my day is spent moving things around in my studio. Those picture rails have been the best thing I ever invested in, perfect for the paintings and too narrow for my fat cat's bottoms.

tlwest said...

I am going to have my own studio next week-- all to myself. My daughter is moving out and I am NOT turning her room into a guest room if you know what I mean ;) So far I just have the wall paint picked out because her room is PURPLE. Not sure where I am going to put what yet. Need to get some of those picture rails though ;)

Anonymous said...

Its great that you are posting your progress with these gi-normous panels of yours. Its so nice to sit back and watch somebody else work!!! (joking!)

Good luck with them (cats notwithstanding!). Mine are presently lying on the bed, in the 'boudoir' half of my studio/bedroom while I try to work on the floor with some collage for my next piece. I have forbidden them to even think of jumping on it!