A question from a reader…

Let’s start the year off with this note from an artist in Michigan, Gail Hayton…

Hi Heather,
I am one of your in cognito blog readers.  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE your work.  I am a retired woman who went from engineering to art for a second career.  I am mostly self-taught but have a degree in architecture for many years ago that basically gave me an undergrad in art.  I was interested in your use of the Artboard gesso and bought a jar.  WOW, it is so thick and heavy.  I was wondering if you could tell me how you apply it.  I have been using ampersand board, but don’t like it.  I want a smooth surface, but one that has enough tooth that I don’t have to apply several coats of paint to get a solid look to my paints.  I have recently branched out into doing some trompe lóeil work and had to use several coats of paint.  That process takes so long and I tend to start forgetting what colors I mixed together.  I am hoping the Artboard gesso may relieve this problem.  Do you thin your stuff or what?

Before I answer, here is a link to her website so we can all see the work she is doing and perhaps other readers will have thoughts as well…Click Here to view

And here is the gesso she is referring to…

Art Boards Gesso…gesso1

gesso 2

gesso 3

I’ve hopefully made these pics large enough for you to read the label. It gives a most thorough explanation of why this gesso is different from most out on the market. I’ll also include a link here to Dick Blick, since that is my go to source for almost all of my art supplies. Click here

And no, I’m not a sponsor for either DB or ABs gesso, though I wouldn’t turn down an offer.

Late last summer I did a marathon of panel making. Here is a lousy photo of just a part of the stack of 40 plus boards which I am thrilled now to have ready to pull and paint on…


You can’t see very well, but these are the canvas covered Dibond panels which have been gessoed to Kansas and back and then wet sanded, with excruciating care, and finally “oiled out” with a thin coat of Old Holland raw umber. What I was trying to show was how thin the final stack is, taking up just a few inches to house dozens.

So, back to Gail’s question…

I too tried the Ampersand boards and was most unsatisfied with their finished surfaces to paint on. I eventually used them as test panels to try various gessos on the market and even then, they just didn’t measure up.
As you can read on the label in photos above, this gesso is designed for panels. While it’s true that I technically am painting on a canvas, by the time it is adhered to the aluminum Dibond and then gessoed with many layers, the desired surface is as smooth and texture free as I can make it. The resulting panel is rigid and the sub structure of the Dibond is the most stable of any substrate available.

Unlike a canvas stretched over wooden support frames, there is zero movement on these panels. I’m no chemist, but I suspect that the Art Boards gesso, as it makes several references to being formulated for panels, and loaded with those “refined solids” , while providing a superior “tooth” … that delicious “eggshell vellum” surface might possibly crack under the bouncy movement of a canvas stretched over traditional wooden bars.

I can attest to the truth of every claim on their label. Good tone, great surface, creamy application, easily sandable, and love that tooth.
Ah, but yes Gail, it is thick. And boy is it expensive.
After years of experimentation, I have stumbled on this formula for gesso application.

For the first coat, I use a student grade product. Bought by the gallon, I’m satisfied with the Dick Blick version of acrylic white gesso. It is much thicker than others out there but still thin enough to cover well and quickly. I use a 3 or 4 inch wide beveled cheap plastic putty knife which spreads it on nicely without raised edges, (at least for the first several coats).

I let that dry overnight and lightly sand with an 80 grit foam sanding block, and then the second coat goes on. Repeat drying, sanding and recoating with a third coat, and I’m ready for the expensive stuff.

The thick creamy Art Boards gesso does indeed dry fast. And there is no easy way to do this, especially on a large panel, without some ridging from the putty knife. With each successive coat, the surface becomes slightly smoother and the weave of the canvas no longer hides imperfections.  Believe me, this is the hardest part of the entire painting process for me.
I work very quickly, keep the lid covering the tub in between panels, even sand the edges of the plastic tool to avoid divots which would leave marks. I carefully light the garage, and turn the panel often, looking for unwanted tool markings. Those 8 foot panels are the stuff of nightmares.
The first coat of that good stuff is usually ok.
Because of the chalkiness, I sand less aggressively in between coats, using a 120 grit block. But I’ve learned that two final coats are all it takes. Yes, I could probably get away with one coat of the Art Boards, but the second coat seems to level out some of those errant application marks.
Then, it sits for at least three days to dry completely.

Anticipating a question, “why not use a brush”, been there done that and can’t handle the intensive sanding required to reduce the brushstroke markings down to the smoothness I prefer. Yes, I’ve tried to wet the surface so the paint can “flow” better, but that dilutes the gesso in unpredictable ways and defeats the purpose of buying a thick rich product.

The wet sanding process is where you can control just how much tooth you want. I use those same sanding sponges, probably a 120 or 220, and have a bucket of water and some junky terry cloth rags. With very little water, and working in one foot square spaces at a time, I gently sand until there is a slurry. Gently. It doesn’t take much but you can easily over do this…I have learned the hard way and had to redo many panels for lack of patience.
Once you get that slurry going, you want to take the rag and kind of wipe it, smoothing it out, without lifting it.This too takes some practice. You want to keep the slurry moving until it starts to dry and pull and then ease the rag off the surface in one last swipe.

Yeah, I probably lost most of you a while back, and I’ve had other artist friends throw brushes at me in dismay at this stage of the explanation, but, with some practice, it is not so difficult. Hard on the old joints, but not rocket science, just tedious.
After you spend a few hours wet sanding a panel, you start paying much more attention to  smoothing out all the marks you can while applying those coats of gesso so you have less work to do at this final stage.

I will re-emphasize the “gently” part because it is easily possible to sand the tooth right out of this stuff leaving you with a glassy surface which will repel your paint. Been there done that. Easy does it. And a final very light sanding will help if you go too far. I can tell immediately, when I apply the raw umber as a ground, if I have sealed up all that tooth. Still have the option to rescue it with a good sanding but it is one step too far so… again with the patience.

I see that Gail is famous for her miniatures. There should be zero problem getting the gesso to lay smoothly and without ridges with one pass of a putty knife, but I’d still lightly sand between coats. I’m jealous.

Well that became a tome. But I needed a break. I’m currently mid-way through one of those larger paneled paintings and the old fingers were getting stiff. Typing has loosened them up but I’m thinking a night of knitting by the fireside might just reset all the gears.

Gail, if you’re still reading, thank you for your question, your kind words and your interest.
I’m happy to answer any follow up questions and wish you the best of luck.

Yours smooth panels and flying brushes,


A quick follow-up…

This from Gail…
I have 12 boards ready to go this week so I will study your blog and try this.  The only question I have is that since you are applying so much gesso, to the point that the texture is gone, what purpose does the canvas serve?  I am guessing it is only to give you a fighting chance of an even application of the gesso.  Or does it somehow still aid the application of the paint?

Yes, I asked myself the same question about the canvas. The original use of canvas wrapped Dibond came from an article written by Ross Merrill of the NGA. He was looking for the most stable substrate for a canvas and came up with the Dibond. The archivist approach is that the canvas could, theoretically centuries from now, be removed from any support and maintain its integrity.
I know of a few artists who are painting directly on the Dibond.
It is powercoated with some enamaled paint process so the board arrives with a white painted surface. I sand that down to allow the gel medium to bond better when attaching the canvas. My hesitation is whether the gesso alone would bond sufficiently to that enameld paint to be “archival”.The bond of gesso on canvas has been proven over many centuries so I sleep better at night.


Abstract teaching…

Here’s a response to the last blog post about the painting Finding Abstraction which  I got from Cori, the daughter of my friend Saren and someone who does that noblest of professions for a living…she teaches children about art !

(Cori is the hard working woman at the right, alongside her mom, on the day that the entire Zink family showed up to help us clean up after the flood.)


Love Finding Abstraction!  My 4th graders just read Jackson
in Action in their new reading series.  I just finished a lesson with them
using the children’s book Action Jackson and then let them do their own
Pollock (sometimes I’m down right nuts).  I did not manage the consistency very
well and most of the paintings look like a mess but they had a blast.  I think
they had almost as much fun crawling around with a sponge to clean the floor and
chairs as they did making the mess.  And somehow I managed to not lose one pair
of pants to paint splatters!!!  Their reading about Romare Bearden now – collage
is next.  I’m loving this new reading series.

C.  🙂

I just love Cori’s creative way of putting lessons into action. My brushes are raised to her !

PS – today she sent along a couple examples of the student’s artwork.

They both have nailed the strength of the linear gestures and the resonance of vivid color. Wicked cool as they say where I’m from. These guys are from the Paxtang Elementary School.

J Mattey's Pollock inspired painting

Artwork by J. Mattey

Jeffery Gleiter's Pollock inspired painting

And here’s one by Jeffery Gleiter

winter workshop relocation

We have had one day in the last two weeks with temperatures above freezing and I was able to get out to the garage and finish wrapping the rest of the panels working late into the last of that afternoon sunshine.

But, along with the rest of the country, we have been shivering ever since. In this part of the state the meteorologists use Harrisburg International Airport as the official temp. gauge. This morning I happened to be at HIA and could verify that it was indeed 1 degree outside. And since the little dribbles of water that we had left running from both of log cabin faucets decided …..to….stop…….dripping……..yesterday…………morning……………I can attest to the fact that it is too cold for those panels to be out in the unheated garage.

So I have brought them all, all 20 of them, inside and up the steep and narrow stairs to the library loft.

Last night I got  the first coat of gesso on the back sides. This is more easily done with a wide putty knife…unless the plastic one you bought for this purpose was used as a chew toy by your apprentice…

Today I will turn these all over, give the canvas a light sanding to remove stray bits of dried gel medium (which is the adhesive I use to attach it to the Dibond) and then …using the new putty knife…will start the first of several coats of the acrylic gesso. I find that I can use the scraper up to about the third coat before the streaks it leaves are too prominent. I’m going for the smoothest, weave-free look possible.

The final coat will be with the Art Board Gesso and probably brushed on. But I’m eager to see if working up in the loft, with it’s great source of light, will make any difference to how well I can apply the final layer.

This all will have to wait just a bit longer however…since the phone reception is poor up there…and I am monitoring a delayed flight due to mechanical troubles…and the computer has now become command central until my traveler is wheels up…and safely back down.

Stay tuned.

Gesso Presto !

Betsy wins the challenge today…

and thanks to the many who chimed in to help as well…

I decided to bring the panel into the kitchen to provide better light and warmth and set up a spot light at a raking angle, then started with a thin sanding sponge. Some grit on one side and sponge only on the other. Dipped in a little water it quickly brought up a slurry of gesso and in seconds had repaired an imperfection. The key turned out to be starting with the grit side and water…just a little bit…and then wiping in a broader circle with the sponge side which quickly smoothed it back down.                                                                                                                              

The panel is 32″ x 48″ which is a lot of real estate when you are bending over and squinting and it took almost 2 hours of work to reach a satisfactory surface. I was apparently gloating for just a moment and when I took it outside so I could clean up the studio kitchen the wind knocked it over onto Finnegan’s water dish. UGH. Another 15 minutes of repairing those dings and it was back in shape.

Now safely returned to the warmth of the studio I am going to let it dry overnight before proceeding with the oil out that I do as the next step. It will be interesting to see if the surface is not too smooth or if this gesso will provide enough tooth. I’d hate to have to take an abrasive back to it.

 So thanks again Betsy, the sponge wins !

Doctor’s Orders

8 March 09

I’m not supposed to lift anything heavier than a can of soup for 6 weeks.

And my nurse is watching me like a hawk.

So I had to come up with a fool proof plan to get this next, huge, panel up on the easel. Too heavy for Pat to carry in from the garage by herself, we recruited the old wagon made out of parts from an old radio flyer and together we inched it through the gate and across the lawn and up onto the porch and slid it into the studio…then we locked and secured the easel carriage and one giant heave was all it took and presto…. she’s up and ready to go…


I put the deck of cards there so you could get some idea of size… the panel is roughly 4 x 8 feet…


It reminded me of a quote my dear old Aunt Sal sent which is taped to the studio refrigerator…

“There is nothing, absolutely NOTHING !, that two women cannot accomplish together before noon.”

We managed that AND moving a 50 lb bag of bird seed….well before 11:30 !

Now the hard part…to fidget with the composition and get the sketch up on the panel…day two of sketching and reworking…and counting…

Brushes in the wind

17 January 2009

In the wake of yesterday’s news of the death of Andrew Wyeth it has been somber in the studio. The view outside my window, of a weathered Pennsylvania stone barn and raw umber fields of stubbled winter cornshalks, echoes his own corner of farm land not far from here … and it settles my soul.

Many of you know our tradition of hanging wind chimes in the gardens in honor of loved ones who have died…and you won’t be surprised that this one will need to be special. I’ve decided to make it out of my old brushes.

In my studio, brushes live their lives in stages. I buy in bulk and on sale and only when I’m desparate and the new ones live in a state of reverence in the best of the old jars and mugs until I absolutely have to have that pristine spring and flow. The “working new” then get prime real estate on the table alongside my easel. Separated carefully from the grunts and wiped with the softest rags before being put up at night.

Try as I might, it doesn’t take long before they blend into the rest of the crew and their sabled edges begin to fray and the glossy sheen of their nickel plated ferrules no longer brags. I wean them out every other day or so …the hardest worn, stiffest bristled get tossed into an empty liquin box. When that is full, and the pile has spilled over onto the table, and Gully’s tail has knocked four or five of them on the floor and under the air purifier…then I gather them all up for a serious cleaning.

Last night I threw this bunch into a coffee can with about half an inch of Windsor Newton Brush Restorer  in the bottom. I learned the hard way that this stuff will melt the finish off of the wood, seeing as it is paint !, so I try to make sure it stays only on the bristles. They hang about in that overnight and then I settle in for the tedious second stage which is to scrub them in the tub of Masters Brush Cleaner. Then the big rinse and they’re laid out to dry.

Clean Up

The best of that batch are returned to their staging areas …

Ready to Go

 and the stragglers who refused to come clean are relegated to the graveyard…a box under my workbench…


which, until today, had been the final resting place.

But now I’ve got a better use for them. I’ll let you know when I’ve got Andy’s windchime up.

In the meantime… I’m curious … where do your old brushes go ?

Solstice Soup

21 December 2008

Mushroom Soup Ingredients

So I got an email this morning from Maureen…

Hi Heather and Pat,

Just wanted to let you know I received the birthday chocolates in the mail.  What a treat, having treats delivered!  You can never have too much chocolate.

I have also been trying to plan a Christmas meal for Peter and I that is a good vegetarian meal that we don’t usually eat.  I thought of the mushroom barley soup Peter said you used to make that he loved.  I have made the one in the Moosewood cookbook and I was wondering if you used that recipe or a different one.  If you have a minute today or tomorrow could you send it along?(if your share recipes!!!) We would love to have it is a new Follansbee tradition (the kids will probably never eat it but who knows!) Thanks.

Have a great holiday – stay all cuddled up and warm.  We are planning to do the same.



AND…as so often happens in this wonderful life…our worlds, and in this case our cuilinary spirits, weave through and around each other in a delightful dance…

Hey there Maureen,
we were mostly proud of ourselves for remembering when you said that you always wished for them…made us happy.
And, your timing is perfect ! I have a refrigerator full of ingredients to make that mushroom soup tonight…in honor of the longest night of the year.
Hoping that Paul Winter might be doing his Solstice concert in the newly renovated Cathedral of St. John the Divine in NYC tonight….if the radio covers it that it would be a wonderful evening.
I just spent the morning going through my favorite Vineyard cookbook planning out something simple and yet elegant for our day after with our kids. This year there will only be 4 coming and one is a strict vegan so she’s bringing her own meal. 
OK the soup.
The king of memory has perhaps confused my soup with another because I never added barley…although it would be a very nice tree-hugging addition.
I’ll give you the basic recipe, at least what I aim for, and you can wing it from there.
It will take you longer to read this than to make it.
Prop up your feet, pop a chocolate cherry in your mouth, and off ya go…
Heather’s Mushroom Soup
Mushrooms  ( lots, can’t have too many…I’d say at least 6-8 cups sliced…right now I have two of those big containers from the grocery store, and if you want to add some of the wild and wooly kind that are certainly available in your neck of the woods go right ahead…just don’t let the kids pick them.  AND don’t wash them ! They are little sponges and you will have a watery mess in a soup. Just wipe off the biggest clods of dirt…the rest is good for ya )
Leeks   ( 3 or 4 depending on the size )
Shallots  (don’t really need them and they are expensive right now so I didn’t get them this time but they do add a lovely layer of rich flavor)
Flour ( can use whole wheat if you want but it does make it a bit grittier )
Chicken or Vegetable stock  (now adays I use the ones that are organic and come in a juicy juice kinda box)
Cream  ( and here I show my age and use the gift from the gods…fat free half and half…. though you wouldn’t know it to look at me….it is my favorite new diet food ingredient…guilt free and creamy !)                   
Prepare the ingredients….
this part takes the most time and involves some knife work so you might want to send Papa and the babes out for a long walk.
You probably have a favorite way to clean your leeks. I just cut the roots off, cut the tops off…leaving as much of the green as you can if in good shape, then I slice it in half lengthwise and rinse the hell out of it. Chop it all up into little pieces.
Slice all those mushrooms up. Same sized pieces. 1/8 ” wide.  I know, I know…there’s the time factor. Put on some good music and it goes faster.
Slice shallots if you’re feeling rich…same size.
Get a big pot.
Put about half a stick of butter in and let it melt over medium heat.
Throw in the leeks and shallots and saute over medium heat until soft. Don’t be tempted to turn up the heat just to make this part go faster…you want the juices to come out slowly and blend into the butter.
It’s all about the butter.
When you got them good and limp but not burnt…add the mushrooms and let them do the same thing…release their moisture and soften but not cook all the way to mush.
That whole sauteeing bit might take 20-30 minutes.
When it looks like they are congealing nicely you sprinkle some flour over the mixture…maybe 1/4 cup but not much more…and stir that in and let it cook a little bit.
Then you add the stock.
Anywhere from 3-6 cups and I know that’s a wide spread but it depends on how many of the leeks and mushrooms you start with. Remembering that you will finish this off with some cream, and that it will reduce down…it’s much easier to add more than take some away.
NOW you can turn down the heat and walk away…or clean up the mess you made so far.
Let that simmer for 30 minutes to an hour. Don’t boil it though. You are just reducing the liquid and melding the flavors all together.
Then, here’s the tricky bit.
IF you have a cuisinart, and I still have my original one which has been much abused but is a trooper,  you will now transfer the soup from the pot to the food processor in small batches and chop.
IF you do not have said processor you could use a blender but you don’t want baby food here, just a fine chop.
IF you have neither then don’t worry about it. Same exact taste. It’s just a texture thing and I usually make an unholy mess at this stage anyway so you can absolutely save yourself the trouble and go on to the last step.
Return whatever mixture you decide on to a medium heat and…
Add cream. 
As much as you want without it getting too thin. 1/2 cup to 2 cups. ( I like a super creamy soup so I usually add less stock in the beginning (more like 2-3 cups) and add more cream in the end…but Pat doesn’t like it too creamy so once a year I go for the cream and otherwise thin it down )
Serve with some kick ass bread and cheese.
That’s IT !!!!
When you go to reheat just make sure not to boil. Nuking is ok but I prefer slow warm ups on the stove top.
But then I don’t have those beautiful children clinging to my apron strings.
We only got a spitting of snow…ugh…but we are snuggly all the same and tonight I will head home on the early side to make soup and sit by the fire with my babe…and if I’ve left anything out I will email you an update tomorrow. It’s all in my head so you never know.
Love to all your sugar plum fairies…





MV Times Article

23 August

Took some extra grit this morning but we did manage to load up our little family and haul our sleepy selves up to the high school for the South Beach Supercharged Walk. Week 2. It’s a lot prettier than the alternating days’ exercise routine…trust me. And it does feel great to get the stiff old joints moving early in the day, come home to a protein filled meal, shower up and be charged up to get right  to work at the easel.

I made a detour today to check email and found a note from friend Jen on the Vineyard, 

” Congratulations once again on MV Times front page.  Great article, but where’s your picture? “.

Here’s a link to that article …


Click on this image to read article.

Click on this image to read article.

Brooks Robards called for an interview last week and we had an interesting conversation about the many interpretations and definitions of REALISM in art today. She pushed me to clarify where I felt my artwork fit into that genre.

People often respond that my paintings “look just like a photograph”, but I am not a Photorealist. not as Estes, Close and Goings and others defined the genre in the 60’s. Here’s a brief definition from Wikipedia..

Photorealist painting cannot exist without the photograph. In Photorealism, change and movement must be frozen in time which must then be accurately represented by the artist.[14] Photorealists gather their imagery and information with the camera and photograph. Once the photograph is developed (usually onto a photographic slide) the artist will systematically transfer the image from the photographic slide onto canvases. This is done by either projecting the slide or grid techniques.[15] The resulting images are often direct copies of the original photograph but are usually larger than the original photograph or slide. This results in the photorealist style being tight and precise, often with an emphasis on imagery that requires a high level of technical prowess and virtuosity to simulate, such as reflections in specular surfaces and the geometric rigor of man-made environs.[16]

20th century photorealism can be contrasted with the similarly literal style found in trompe l’oeil paintings of the 19th century. However, trompe l’oeil paintings tended to be carefully designed, very shallow-space still-lifes, employing illusionistic devices such as the use of shadows to cause small objects to appear to exist above the surface of the painting. (Trompe l’oeil literally means “fool the eye.”) The photorealism movement moved beyond this illusionism to tackle deeper spatial representations (e.g. urban landscapes) and took on much more varied and dynamic subject matter.

In so far as a Photorealist is trying to make their paintings look like an actual photograph they are focusing on a two dimensional product. The craftsmanship has to be strong, the technique flawless, in order to convince the viewer, but the subject matter is static, representing a moment or snapshot in time.

This differs from my goal, at least what I am trying to aim for, which is to uncover layers of meaning and narrative and light from the subjects in my paintings which represents them in an arch of time and history.

I do use photographs for reference when I can’t sit the subject down in front of my easel, but have, sometimes, hundreds of shots that relay information as to detail, design and form. Coupled with sketches and studies over time and in many different conditions of light and space, I build a composition, especially with the still lifes, that often could not exist in the “real” world. Even with the landscapes and figurative work, elements may be altered to enhance the structure of the composition or the narrative. But, hopefully, the essence endures.

I appreciate your generous and kind words about the paintings Brooks, and you got the point that I so clumsily was trying to articulate…that that third dimension is where the difference liesfrom her article,  she (Heather) says, “I aim to be three-dimensional. That’s where the soul comes in. I like having several layers in a painting. You have a whole narrative going, then you step back and look at the title and get a whole other idea. There’s a sense of mystery.”

Light, mystery, the patina of history, and above all a good dose of humble humor…that’s my reality, the realism I try to represent in my work.

I’m not sure which of my artist friends has the time or inclination to read these blog entries…but I would love to continue this conversation. What is your definition of Realism, and how does it inform your artwork?

Chime in and link us to some of your artwork while you’re at it. Opening new windows is what this blog is all about.

And now, it’s time to leave the cyber world and get to the easel…

Stay frosty out there, HN

Frame Carving Completed

Day after the 4th and the sleepless night of illegal fireworks being shot off next door for hours upon hours. Gully finally gave up her nervous vigil and went to sleep. Pat played freecell until the third finale seemed to end at round about 2 am, and, I tossed and turned for a fitful while but the ear plugs softened the concussions and I went dreamily to the deck of the Man ‘O War which Post Master Aubrey was beating to quarters, guns ready for battle….

Framed up the fishing pole today so I thought I would follow up on the finishing steps to its carved frame. It took about six hours to finish the carving and the hardest part was turning that sized frame around to get the proper purchase and angles with the knife and gouges. On a smaller frame or individual panel, like the chair slats I used to carve, I would turn and turn again for almost each cut. Not so with a frame as large as my office door.



Close up of quote.

   Here it is with the carving finished and ready for the next step.

Carving Done

I used the garage workshop, which has more ventilation, as the staining station. Depends entirely on the frame and painting but I have experimented lately with traditional wood stains, milk paint, gold leaf and even spray paint to treat the surface. This one, as you can see, wanted to show off the wood grain so I used a Minwax English Chestnut stain followed by a coat of satin polyurethane which was rubbed on and left to dry for a couple days.

Stained Frame

The humidity is quite high this weekend so I brought it inside yesterday to give it a chance to dry out before completing the framing. There are three parts to this frame. A thin rabbeted frame holds the painting and is joined to the poplar carved panel with nails and screws as needed. Then the outside moulding is attached and all three are joined as one to support the painting panel. (More about the composition and preparation of these panels will appear in future posts.) 

Here is the final product…

  ” … a shortage of fishing poles” 

  Oil on Panel 72″ x 16″     (Outside frame dimension is 80″ x 24″)

The full quote is, ” If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there would be a shortage of fishing poles. ” Doug Larson

There will be one more carved frame for the upcoming Granary Gallery show which opens in two short weeks. All new work will be posted on my HN Website on Saturday July 12th.

The countdown continues…

Stay frosty my friends,  HN

Frame Carving Day One

It’s a hot sultry day outside…thought I would give you a peek inside at the frame carving I am starting today. One of the new paintings for the Granary show is a horizontal of a life-sized fishing pole. It’s going inside this frame onto which I am preparing to carve a quote.

Step one is on the computer. I drew out an alphabet and scanned it into the computer. Then painstakingly separated and sized each letter. (Did this a while back so now all I have to do is copy and paste the letters needed, one at a time, and drag them into a blank graph page which I previously  mocked up in Publisher. I use poplar finished boards in two sizes depending on the size of the painting. When the words are aligned, I lay them out in a separate file which has a mock-up of the actual frame size. This saves hours of what used to be hit or miss drawing of the letters directly onto the boards…erasing for spacing errors…and spelling errors, etc. When it all looks good and I have triple checked the spelling … I have Pat come and check it again. Check twice, carve once !

                   Laying it out.                       My supervisor


 Then I tape the lines of words to the board and use a graphite carbon paper to trace them on. You can see my helper is at my feet every step of the way ! Out come the carving tools and a strong light at a raking angle to better see the edges…and away I go. Today I’m listening to Patrick O’Brian’s Post Captain and hearing about salty sailors rigging ships…great for hardy hand tool work.





                         Carving.              Close up of me carving.

 So, now it’s 7pm and I’ve been at this since 8 this morning. Pat has just come over to call me home for supper. The hard part is done and when I started this blog page it was 5 and I expected to go back to carving…had some glitches and ….well there ya go.

As chance would have it, a magazine arrived today from my woodworking pal Peter,

Plimoth Life (he and his wife Maureen both work at Plimoth Plantation and are wicked cool humans to boot, if you haven’t checked it out already, you can link to his web site here www.peterfollansbee.com . It looks like they are both featured in a couple of articles which will make for good lunchtime reading tomorrow. I’ll post more of the carving as it progresses. Time for some shrimp pasta. What’s on your supper table tonight ?

Be well,