Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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05/18/2004: "Sailing - Question about paper - More info on Painting on Wood"

Tried to go out sailing tonight but ended up just getting Rozinante ready for the season. My friend DeLynn came with me and we got the 15 year old outboard started after much tinkering, put the mainsail up, I had to run home twice to get stuff I'd forgotten. We put up both the main and the gib to let them air out a bit and after sitting in the harbor all winter the battery to the radio was still going strong. A guy from the Juneau Yacht Club came by and gave us a flyer for the Rum Cup which is a series of thirteen races that takes place during the summer. Basically, I'm completely excited to get out there. DeLynn and I are going to go out on Tuesdays and Thursdays on Roz, and on Fridays on High Noon out of Auk Bay, just like last summer. I love sailing so much! I just have to make sure I don't start getting lazy about the amount of time I've set aside to paint every night.

preparing_roz (39k image)
My friend DeLynn on board Rozinante, my Catalina 22

On another note, another local artist has some questions about colored drawing paper, of which I have no clue. I'll post her question below. From Stacy:


"Iím working with graphite (a little vine charcoal) on watercolor paper. I tried Bristol vellum and likely wonít use it again, didnít work out as Iíd expected. As far as needs go, Iíve been trying to find some high quality paper (green, blue, red, etc.) to use with graphite, charcoal, chalk, most drawing mediums really. Iíve looked on dickblick and other suppliers and havenít had too much luck. Iím hesitant to use pastel paper or other papers, because I donít know much about them. The pastel paper at the Art Dept at the mall is a bit too toothy. Suggestions?"

Also, I'll post the information that John Kramer sent regarding a previous post about painting on wood:


" saw that you had some problems with painting on panel, and I paint almost exclusively on wood of one form or another, and felt I could help you out, I've used email b/c my comments might be a little long for your blog itself.

Particleboard. This is by far the best 'wood' I've found for painting on, it's just sawdust and glue, but it's very dense, and very heavy and it won't warp at all. It takes 3-4 coats of acrylic gesso to cover, or you could use interior acrylic primer and do it in 1-2 coats. Also Krylon makes a spray gesso that works well as does Krylon's spray primer. The boards are pretty thick, but you'll probably still want back supports to ease hanging the end result, I use pine 1x2s for this purpose. I cut the 1x2 (despite the name they are actuall .75" x 1.75") glue them to the back using wood glue and then I've in the past either nailed from the front, nailed from the back, or stapled from the front, in the future I'll be using screws from the front and then using molding paste to cover them up. the one down side is that the edges of the board are a little hard to paint on so you may want to paint them first and then mask them with duct or masking tape).

Masonite. This is good too, it's cheaper than the particleboard, but it does warp as you've found out. I've been getting mine free lately from a professor who works construction, they use 16"x16" masonite panels to pad ceramic tiles for shipping. once all the paint is dry you can correct the warp by putting the panel at the bottom of a very heavy pile (protect the surface first of course). or you can make a pine frame for the back, I haven't tried wood glue as I am not sure if this will hold, but hot glue does. I'm not sure what other fasteners to use, as I get the panels witht he smooth edge, and I think pounding a nail thru that would really crack it. Instead of a frame perhaps just a piece of wood across the back horizontally with a 'D'-ring picture hanger attached to it. Krylon's spray gesso works phenomenally on masonite, just one coat and you ahve a beutiful white surface on which to paint. interior acrylic primer also works well (1-2 coats) and gesso really sucks on
this surface.

Luan. I don't know if Luan is the name of the tree or some other moniker devised by the lumber companies, but the stuff is pretty good and really cheap. It warps like a wet piece of paper. it could be perfectly straight in the store, and carrying it out to the car, the wind could warp it a little bit (it happened to me recently, but it was really heavy wind). I just add the back supports like I would for particleboard, but if it's warped in one direction more than any other I attach the supports on the side such that the warp bends away from the supports, so that when I nail it together it all straightens out. Interiror acrylic primer is the way to go here it does the job in 1-2 coats gesso takes more, and I haven't yet tried the spray stuff.

Of course all these woods come in a variety of sizes in the lumber store/home improvement 'box' store, and usually can be cut by them (very handy if, like me, you don't own a table saw) I usually cut my 1x2s myself as all I need is a back saw and a mitre box, you don't need to cut them at 45 degree angles. I usually place the 1x2 on the 'fat' side against the panel so there's more surface for the glue to cling to which should prevent breakage in the long run. be careful getting the wood, bring a tape measure and a carpenter's square to ensure that it's the appropriate size (generally what's labeled as 4' x 4' will be an inch or so more or less than that). Youc an also use canvas stretcher bars glued and nailed to your panel as back supports if you prefer, but I've found that it's much cheaper to buy the 1x2s and cut them until you get into very large sizes (like 3-4').

You also mentioned some problems with canvas, I just recently found that canvas painter's drop cloth 8 oz or 10 oz is exactly the same as the canvas I can buy in the art supply stores and much much cheaper. In my neck of the woods (upstate NY) I can buy 5' by 15' of drop cloth for 15 bucks, the same amount of 8oz canvas from the art store would cost at least 30.

Of course I've only been painting for 18 months roughly and on panel for 12 so your mileage may vary, but I felt you might benefit from my knowledge on the subject. " - John Kramer

Replies: 7 Comments

on Wednesday, May 19th,">John said

Some more about wood:
You can also use hot water/steam to fix warped wood. I've not tried this yet, but immersing the wood in hot water or in a stream of steam will make the wood slightly more pliable and you may be able to bend it back into place. Remember, wood glue works not just because the compound is sticky but because it's wet and that causes the wood to expand, thus creating a stronger bond.
Also if you have a stretched canvas that isn't as tight as you'd like you can brush hot water on the back and it'll shrink, just like in the laundry, you can use a hair dryer to dry the water which will also aid the shrinking process, I just run hot water from the tap and let it run on the back of the canvas after I prime it if it's not as tight as I'd like it to be.

on Wednesday, May 19th,">Elise said

Thanks for reminding me about the hot water trick. I've done that in the past but it seems to me that it was only a temporary fix...but maybe the water wasn't hot enough? A steam gun would be wonderful. When I used to build my own canvases I was obsessed with getting them tight enough. I used to get them so damn tight that even with back braces, the frame would start to warp from the strength of the shrinking canvas (after priming). I LOVE the sound a canvas makes right after you prime it and it's still wet...tap on it and it sounds like a drum. Very satisfying. (ok I'm a nerd!)

on Wednesday, May 19th,">Elise said

By the way, thanks for sharing your geoshitties :D site with me John, ironically, your award winning piece wasn't even my favorite...can you guess which one was? The one that was sort of a colorful abstract figure (untitled-woman-reclining), big suprise eh? (the award winning piece was cool too though, very intricate. I don't have the patience for doing work like that.)

on Thursday, May 20th,">John said

I did a whole bunch of abstractions in my figure drawing class in the fall, up until my professor told me to pay a little more attention to the actual shapes of the human figure, so I filled an entire sheet of paper with an extreme close-up of a man's face. When asked why I did that, I responded: Because I could. He left me to my own devices after that.

on Thursday, May 20th,">Elise said

Professors in beginning and intermediate level figure drawing classes are generally more uptight about wanting people to do somewhat acurate drawings of the human figure and I can sortof understand that.

After all, if you look at Picasso's early work, for example, it was basically very realistic; it wasn't until much later that he started getting into abstraction, and eventually cubism.

I think there is still the feeling that if you're going through tradional channels (i.e. art school etc.) that you learn the fundamentals before you start experimenting. If you're outside of those formal channels than fuck it, ya know? You can do whatever you like.

However, I'm guessing that if you just graduated it probably was an *advanced* class, and for those my feeling is that anything which point your instructor was being a shmoe.

on Thursday, May 20th, John said

Nope, it's a 2 year school, it was the 1 and only figure drawing class they offer. it was mid semester when I started just not caring to represent the figure directly. But, it was after taking drawing 1 and 2, painting 1, and other classes where I had done tons of observational drawings.
and I had that particular prof for other classes so he knew what I was capable of, he was just being...annoying. Because of him, and that class I learned to hate drawing the human figure, realistically at least.

on Thursday, May 20th,">Elise said

An annoying art instructor can really sap the joy out of making art. I had one of the worst drawing instructors of all time, he was constantly forgetting to schedule a model, he'd show up late, leave early, fall asleep in class...but...he had tenure so they couldn't fire him, at least not easily.

He gave us so little feedback that I would have actually prefered that he did tell me to do things differently. Having a passionate disagreement with someone is always better in my opinion, than apathy.