Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Framing for the Budget Conscious Artist

Framing has always been my least favorite of my show prep activities. I mostly avoided this activity by painting on canvas, and typically leaving it unframed. Lately, however, I've been painting more paintings on paper and now it's time to pay the price - it's time to frame them!

As much as I'd like to just hand them over to a professional and just say - there you go, frame away - I can't bear to spend that much on something I'm capable of doing myself. Blame growing up in a 1 income teacher's budget conscious household with a mother who could, quite literally, make almost anything (and still does). She's amazing - but that's another story.

So, off to buy my framing supplies...

Now, I do try to shop local for as much as my budget allows. I am, however, partial to www.AmericanFrame.com for my frames. I don't like to cut my own framing material (I've always been bad with the "measure twice, cut once" motto, and often mix it up). They have a wide selection of frames, good prices, and fast shipping. If I need to, I can always have my mats cut by them as well.

Since my paintings on paper are painted to the edge, I prefer to frame them using a floating frame method, which requires the use of spacers (a little strip that goes between the glass and the mat to keep the artwork from hitting the glass. Kind of like a skinny shadowbox). In college we used strips of wood and cut them ourselves (yes, they made all good painting students take woodshop), but today I prefer these handy little plastic strips (called "Airspace") for their ease and clarity. I bought mine at www.DanielSmith.com (although I only found them in their catalog, not their website). And, I discovered after gluing down a couple strips, they DO have a self adhesive side! (Just be careful to get it in place before it touches down - it's hard to move it afterward).

For mat supplies, I did a mix of getting pre-cut mats since I still like having 1 mat cut to frame the artwork (not necessary, but I prefer it.) For the cut mat I went to American Frame, mostly because it made it easier to plan
out the size of the actual frames to buy and the color of the mat. For the solid piece of matboard on which the artwork is secured, I went to my local craft store: Creative Crafts. They also supplied me with the museum glass I decided to use.

For original art I just felt it would look better and more professional, especially in an outdoor booth environment where I get a lot of reflections. It is pricey, but it does look great. The Creative Crafts Framing department gave me a great word of advice when working with it too - wear cotton gloves! It prevents smudges while you work, and prevents yourself from getting scratched. They also gave me these great stickers for placing on the back of the artwork so that the customer knows what kind of glass you used, and how to clean it. Thanks Creative Crafts!

I still need to complete the final touch before hanging them at the show - covering the back with paper to prevent dust from entering into the frames (for the wood frames, especially), but that shouldn't take me too long.

Here are a few more of the results of my work. I still have 1 more to frame, but I feel they'll make a nice addition to my show booth in Corvallis this weekend. Hope to see you there!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Art of self Reproduction

And no, I do not mean duplicating ourselves! 1 of me is plenty. I'm talking about being an artist self-producing my reproductions (instead of farming it out). And really, I'm only talking about the 1st step in this process - capturing a digital image. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I am often asked how I get so much detail and apparent texture into my reproductions (digital prints). There are three components to the reproduction process - A good digital image, quality paper, and a professional level printer using quality inks. Before you can create a quality print, the first step is the most important.

The Digital Image

There are 2 options for getting a digital image: with a photograph, or with a scanner. I prefer the latter whenever possible. I find, even when professionally photographed, it's hard to get as much detail and accuracy as with a scanner. However, I do paint on canvases which outsize my scanner's capacity, at which point I call up a professional photographer.

So, what is my scanner's capacity? I have a 9 x 12 inch Epson scanner. It has served me very well these last 6 years, and I am looking for an upgrade in a larger size, but at the moment it's all I need. So, is 9 x 12 the largest painting for which I can capture on image? The answer is NO.

Using the photomerge process in Photoshop I can stitch together several scans to build the larger sized canvas. Using this method, I can capture images as large as 30 inches, and often scan my 30 x 40 inch canvases using this method. The BIG downside - how long it takes. It can often take me several hours to run through this process (including the minor adjustments and touch-ups I complete in Photoshop afterward).

Here are some of the raw scans (24 in all) from my latest merging project, followed by a few tips on this process...

Scanning Tips

  • After scanning a section, trim off about 1/2 inch from any edges other than the actual artwork edges (to remove any color variations from the edges to be stitched together)
  • Plan you scans to overlap at least 3-4 inches (although, overlapping 1/3 of your image or more is closer to factory recommendations)
  • Stitch the scans together with the "photomerge" feature in Photoshop (or other similar graphics program).
  • If images aren't lining up properly, scan again. It's most likely a matter of making sure your painting is straight when you scan.
  • Still not merging correctly? If your graphic design program allows it, take apart the auto merged scans and manually place them together.
  • Once merged, use the clone stamp tool to make minor corrections to color where stitching occurred
If you want to learn more about printers and papers, try checking out these blog posts:

Bamboo Paper (note, I now also use the Sugar Cane paper when I want a whiter more textured paper)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Painting a Day Annual Art Auction - Coming Soon!

As I've been spending more time doing office work (like getting my new business cards designed and ordered, updating my website, and catching up on my accounting) and less time painting lately, I'm definitely looking forward to what has become a very fun annual event for me.

Nov 1 - Dec 10

Unlike previous years, I am planning on 30 paintings during this 40 day period (giving myself some weekend & Thanksgiving days off - yea!) After each painting is completed (no more than 1 a day), I will list it on ebay the next day for a 5 day auction. Whenever possible I'll try to also load some video of the artwork in the making to youtube! Fun! I will announce each listing on my Facebook page as well as twitter, so feel free to "like" me for "follow" me to find out the latest news.

Until then... you can find my latest work at the following upcoming events!

Sept 25 - 26
Corvalllis, OR

Oct 22 - 24
Everett, WA

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Art of the Torn Edge: Painting on Paper

How I've missed having a good Art Deckle! We always had them available in art school, but for my studio it always seemed like a frivolous expense. Since I've been painting more work on paper lately, though, it seemed like an appropriate thing to have on hand. And so, I finally have that simple but effective tool happily residing on my table!

What is an art deckle? It's basically an artist's straight edge (shown above with the bottom edge straight and top edge ragged) allowing you to tear your quality art papers to give them that lovely ragged hand-made paper look (shown below).

"A Little Hidden Treasure"
Original ART Available on ETSY

For my Acrylic paintings I use either an Arches Cold Press Watercolor paper or their more versatile mixed media paper. Since I buy my paper in large rolls, I have to cut it to size for the paintings I'm doing. I use my carpenter's square to measure the correct size and mark the edges with pencil. (The square helps me to ensure right angles on the corners.) I then line up the art deckle along the line (deckle side to the right, as I'm right-handed), wet the paper along the deckle with water using a paintbrush, hold the deckle down firmly with one hand and pull the paper up from the top right corner finishing toward me until the paper is completely cut. Presto. Paper fit to leave un-matted!

After I have my paper in the appropriate sizes, I then lay them out and coat them with a layer or 2 of gesso. The gesso gives the paper a little more weight and prevents the acrylics from soaking thru to the back of the paper.

I now have 5 papers prepped and drying and I'm looking forward to painting on them tomorrow!

Happy Painting (and deckling)!

Friday, September 3, 2010

So Long Summer - Another Show Season Winds Down

"Watching the Clouds Go By"
A colorful little tribute to the end of summer...
Available on Imagekind.com

A fun and busy summer comes to a close once again. In its wake, I thought I would note a few facts and also share my cherished summer collection with you.

For those of us with kids, the summer season starts and ends with school - so - I'm working with 83 days that I count as "summer". June 17 - Sept 7.

Fact 1) I was traveling 49 of those 83 days, which means I was home for a whoppin' 34 days. For other traveling show artists, this is actually really good. Many of them drive the circuit stacking their shows so that they're not home for weeks at a time. For me, the traveling artist mom, however, this was a LOT of days to be gone. Granted, I'm counting our vacation days from home, too, but that still only left me with 34 days to take care of the household duties, ship orders, paint, and print more inventory. Whew!

Fact 2) I was in 7 art fairs during that time, even though it felt more like double that! And, what do you know, that's the same number I was in during the last summer season. Again, not much for the seasoned traveling artist, but plenty for me.

Fact 3) As many of you know, I broke a record for the furthest travel for a show, heading out to the Chicago area and showing in Glencoe, IL. Hurray for trying something new!

Fact 4) Here's the best fact: I added 5 cool artworks to our collection!

In order of acquisition...

"Powell's Bookstore" by Alan McNiel

I am in love with his art! (My little pic of his print does NOT do it justice.) His booth was next to mine in Lake Oswego and I could have stared at his intriguing cityscapes/landscapes with their layers of imagery, color, and design for many more days. I wish I could buy one of those beautiful large originals, but for this year I'll be happy with the print.

Check out more of his work here: AlanMcNiel.com

Stone Soap Dispenser
by Bill & Toni of Parallax Gallery

I've drooled over these soap dispensers and vases before a couple years ago, so I was glad to find them again at the Anacortes Arts Festival. The carved pieces are gorgeous too, but this simple but elegant rock formation was perfect for my guest bathroom.

Check out more of their work here: ParallaxGallery.com

"Sproket Bug"
by Ian Beyer

My son brought me to this booth while he was working the Anacortes show with me. We both especially liked the scorpion sculptures (being that we had traveled the Southwest this summer and were looking for them there). Ian was so nice and encouraging to my son, too, with all his interest and questions about metal-working. I think my son will want to take welding at some point now - cool! We had to buy a piece from this talented and nice man, so opted for this little "Sproket Bug".

Isn't he cute? See more of his work, including much larger pieces here: IanBeyerMetals.com

Mosaic Mirror by
Stephanie Roman-Olvera

We first met several years ago at the Bellevue Arts Festival. Our imagery and colors just naturally complimented each other (and still do!) I've always wanted one of her pieces, and was so glad to finally pick one up at the Anacortes Festival this year. I LOVE it and look forward to buying more soon.

Check out her (and hubby's) work here: OlveraDesign.com

Bird Bath
by Linda Thorson

Linda is another one of those artists I've long admired. Not only for her outstanding garden art, but also for the outstanding person she is. I had the pleasure of getting to chat with her at the Sunriver Art Faire, and thoroughly enjoyed our time at the show together. I also was very grateful for a chance to trade some art for one of her amazing bird bath creations. It's my prized possession of my garden and will soon be surrounded by my new poppy plants!

For more about Linda and her many other garden creations check out her work here: LindaThorsonDesign.com

FINALLY... the show season slows, but continues... NEXT UP:

Sept 11 - 12, 2010
West-Linn, OR (near Portland)

Sept 25 - 26
Corvalllis, OR

Oct 22 - 24
Everett, WA

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