Working in the studio kitchen…and a bit about packing…

Every inch of this studio is at this moment filled with framed paintings. Yesterday I finished the last of them and wrapped them up for travel as I went along. There has been a bumpy learning curve over the last decade as I tried several different ways of securing the paintings for long distance transport.

One memorable year, when I still had my old Toyota pickup, circa 1982, I decided to stack the framed paintings horizontally…one on top of the other…with sheets of matboard and cardboard in between. After the 12 hour drive to Martha’s Vineyard, in steamy summer heat, I was dismayed to discover that some of the cardboard sheets had wilted and sagged enough to touch the surface of the paintings and actually “etch” a faint series of lines into the varnish. A hectic and sweaty few hours ensued wherein I had to transport them to a garage large enough to lay them out and then unframe and revarnish. NOT something an artist wants to have to do the day before a big show !!!

But, as I said, memorable and lesson securely learned. Nothing, absolutely NOTHING ever touches the surfaces of the paintings again. Now think about that. When they are framed, the frames provide a measure of protection by standing proud above the surface of the panels. Some are deeper than others but all of them give a bit of room for air to circulate when a board is placed on top or between frames.

But remember the sagging ordeal. Even a rigid foamcore board can bow enough in the heat and humidity to touch the surface even when packed upright. So I have sheets of ultra thin plywood which are wrapped in cotton sheeting in the trailer. They provide a rigid barrier in between the largest of the paintings and will not warp under stress.

So I have evolved to the current packing method which involved cutting foamcore corners and wrapping clear plastic packing film around the frames only. The plastic can touch the frame but usually stretches tight and doesn’t but either way it won’t leave a mark and lots of air can circulate around it. This makes it easier to handle the frames as they go in and out of the trailer.


Pat’s coming over later to help me wrap the two largest ones but in the meantime here’s a look at the finished carved frame which I showed you in progress a few days ago…

And because I spent most of yesterday working in the studio kitchen…

today’s painting is of one corner of that very room…

#13 – Swept Away  18 x 26

4 thoughts on “Working in the studio kitchen…and a bit about packing…

  1. That’s a very cool painting! Is that the door to your pull down ironing board?

    Very cool painting!

  2. Thanks Heather – Others can benefit from our trials and placing cardboard over painting surfaces (especially panels, I find) is a mistake one doesn’t want to repeat. After I had a dealer do the same thing, I realized that the cardboard is like a fine sandpaper moving across the painting surface. Now I get yards of simple undyed cotton muslin and wrap my paintings in that before packing. Even if foam core or cardboard is used to layer a stack and shifts and sags to touch the surface, it just shifts the cloth a bit – no more scratching or little rub marks in the varnish. I usually tie the muslin around the painting with cotton string to avoid the use of any tape near the painting surface as an additional precaution – using just a bit of tape to secure near the back of the painting but not the front.
    Love your blog …. and all your work.

  3. Yes Sue, that’s the ironing board door…and an old broom that I got at an MV church sale.

  4. Maybe that’s why you are so good at painting fabric !
    I appreciate your interest Pamela, and yes many lessons learned along the way. I’ve been using tyvek paper to wrap the paintings when I have to ship them. Recently I transported an unframed painting back from the photographers and had it securely strapped into the trailer with the surface against a cotton sheet. No abrasion took place but there were marks on the varnish where a corner of the sheet had wrinkled. UGH. Fortunately a second thin coat of varnish made it disappear but it reaffirms my rule of nothing positively nothing is allowed near that surface. Makes it a challenge to transport unframed panels and I think it’s time for an engineer to enter the conversation. Happy Painting !