I just got some beautiful new birchpanels from Micah Bailey of Oak Hill Farm (contact me if you’re in Alabama and want to order panels from him). They’re so pretty I almost don’t want to paint on them… but of course I will. First, though, priming.
As you probably know, you can’t paint directly onto wood with oil paints. In a nutshell chemical reactions between the oil and the wood cause the wood to disintegrate and the paint to change colors. Since I normally paint on metal or on pre-primed surfaces, I did a ton of research on how to prepare my panels. My best two sources of information were Ampersand’s website and the knowledgeable people at Gamblin Artist Colors. You can actually call Gamblin for technical support and they’re so so kind.
Just for kicks I tried a couple of different priming techniques to see what I prefer. I applied just plain ol’ clear gesso to one and Gamblin ground for oils to the other.
Exhibit A- Clear Gesso
Exhibit B- Gamblin Oil Painting Ground
The gesso was definitely easier to apply and cheaper. But… I went with the Gamblin ground (btw, I swear I’m not getting paid for any of this by anyone). The reason- I love smooth surfaces and the ground (when applied correctly) gave me a super smooth finish. The process is a little picky, so here’s my best advice: a little goes a long way. I mean a really long way. Apply really really thin coats. Let it dry at least 24 hrs (if I put it on too thick it ended up being longer than 24 hrs). Sand, apply again. It says you just need 2 coats, but I actually did 4. Tada! Primed panel ready for some painting love.
It’s dark inside the house and out. A melody wakes me from a dream and I roll away from my sleeping husband. I hush the alarm and stand there a moment, considering the silence; considering returning to the still warm bed. I think about the day ahead… about what needs to be done and the few chances I will have to do what I wish with my time. Decision made, I go to the kitchen for some coffee and, as cool blue light begins to seep around the edges of the window panes, I begin my day with pen and paint.
I used to hang my paintings on the wall as they were completed. However as paintings sold, commissions were picked up, new paintings were finished, etc. paintings were removed or shifted around and the walls were left with a bunch of nail holes. I couldn’t bear the thought of poorly planned nail holes in my beautiful new gray walls! My friend Drew mentioned the idea of putting them on a shelf, which hadn’t occurred to me. My tons of wall shelves that I added, while helpful, still didn’t give me enough room to store paintings. However I had a boxy particle board bookcase. I didn’t think to take a before-picture, but you know the kind- brown, faux wood laminate, moveable shelf, etc. I decided that shelf would work, but it most definitely didn’t go with the light, airy studio image in my head. Also, I was afraid to leave my paintings within easy reach of my toddler. Which leads me to another deficiency that needed to be addressed- I didn’t have any place in my studio that was kid-friendly, where perhaps the small one could occupy herself for 5 minutes. (Let’s face it- 5 minutes is probably the most I could realistically ask for.)
The solution? Multi-stepped, but easy and working out well for us.
First I sanded down the bookcase (just enough to rough it up) and applied Kilz Latex Primer. Then, I spray painted it white. Figuring that taking books or paintings off the shelf would probably be tough on the paint (since I’m sure latex paint on top of laminate is not archival), I covered the shelves with some decorative contact paper. Now comes my real innovation. I put felt feet on bottom of the bookcase so that it could be moved easily without damaging the floor (but not so easily that the wee one would likely move it) and I turned it to face the wall so that the paintings were not accessible. Lastly, I painted the back panel with chalk-board paint, cut, painted, and nailed trim around the “chalkboard” Voila! A storage spot for small paintings, a chalkboard for the kiddo, and a pretty piece for the studio. I love it when a plan comes together!
(I’m still having computer problems, so once again, forgive poor photo editing and cropping.)
Child-safe storage for paintings and books
Plus kiddie art space
I’ve already shown you the absolutely dreamy perfect pale gray (with just enough green and just enough blue and just enough awesomeness) that I chose for my new studio color. As a reminder, here it is again.
Now for the ugly part. The stuff. The tons and tons of “I might need this someday and what else do I do with it?” stuff. All piled into the center of the room…
Keep in mind this is also home office stuff, including a zillion books. How did we get so many books? Do we really need college text books?
…or hauled into another room. Whew.
Don’t worry! It gets better! Stick with me!