Monday, January 16, 2012

plein air and a great trick when preparing your ground

You know I can't say enough good things about painting in plein air, even if the purpose is purely personal, rather than to sell. There is no studio replacement for studying the color and discovering possibilities.
Being there is like having x-ray vision glasses. You look more than paint. Study what is underneath. Spend time painting the color that glows from beneath rather than what is on top. Does that make sense?

Now finally I will answer one of the questions I was asked.
How do I prepare my wood supports?

Answer: After building the structure with wood bracings I coat the front of the panel with Gamblin Oil Painting Ground. It's an alkyd that makes a strong, bright, non-absorbent foundation for oil paintings. Colors are more brilliant and "glowy" on it. 
Tools necessary: 2 large brushes (one for Gamblin alkyd, one for golden acrylic gesso), a container of each ground-Gablin and Golden,  palette knife, throw away gloves, sandpaper, and time
I wear gloves and use a palette knife to scoop out this thick goopy ground. Once it is on the wood I spread with a brush while using vigorous strokes.

sorry for the odd angle was wet
I apply one coat and let it dry for about 24 hours, but not more than 48 hours. Sand lightly or heavily, depending on the amount of smoothness of the direction of underneath patterns you want. Before putting on the second layer I coat the back side of the panel (the side with bracings) with Golden acrylic gesso (less expensive, easier.) This is done to prevent warping. 
Now coat the front with a second layer of the Gamblin ground.You must wait 1 week for it to dry before beginning to paint.

Now here is the trick; because you have to wait between layers to paint again, I simply wrap the brush in a plastic bag. It will keep for at least two weeks if the bag is tight around the handle. So far I have not noticed any damage to brushes. My dad taught me this trick when he was here building my studio. We all know we have to take good care of our brushes (and I do) but who doesn't want a good short cut? Happy painting!
the trick


Caroline said...

You will have to paint very fast to capture the sky colours. I was watching a sunset yesterday and the speed of which it kept changing was simply amazing. Do you make written notes to help you? I do like your two paintings very much I can see the green pastel in the sky area it really looks very effective using the two mediums. What are the advantages of making your own panel? is it the cost or being able to use the glowing ground?

loriann signori said...

Hi Caroline,

I like my own ground so much better. I like controlling the pattern of texture or no texture underneath and the luminosity is wonderful. One more thing...the paint feels better on it. I think it it is a little cheaper. I have been working on birch and they are big. There is one person who makes MDF panels so much cheaper.
As for colors of the rising or setting sun memorization is important. 5 minutes and its gone. Rather than paint and look,I look for those 5 minutes then paint after "the show" is done.
Thanks so much for your interest. I love the way YOU paint skies.

Cindy Michaud said...

Are these panels prepared for pastel? do you cover with glass? or are these strictly for oil...I use some pre-built panels for oil and acrylic but want to build my own (larger) you have recommendations on those? Many your work.

loriann signori said...

Hi Cindy, These panels are for oil. When I want to work this large with pastel I make a surface on a piece of gatorboard (not gatorfoam.) Gatorboard is lightweight, plastic- like and much more expensive than G-foam. Doesn't warp. When I use large gator board I have my framer make a box like frame and set plexiglass about 3 inches away. Hope that helps.

Donna T said...

It's always good to see your plein air pastels, Loriann. It does take some restraint to not paint the top layers first because that's what is easiest to see. I really like the quiet movement in the water in that second painting.

loriann signori said...

Thanks Donna. My focus in the second pastel was the water. On the top one the focus was the sky. Making a pastel feels like freedom..they flow.
How is the weather in NY...snow?