Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Starting from scratch...

Capt. Hook in progress, 4" x 4"

I've been preoccupied with concerns for my dad and what's going to happen to him when he finishes his course of rehabilitation therapy. We're at that point where "assisted living" enters our vocabulary -- to the great resistance of the ones who need assistance. To say my mind has not been on painting is a definite understatement. So I thought that I would force myself to get back into the studio by taking you on a step-by-step walk through the creation of one of my little birdie saltshaker paintings.

What you see here are the first, second, and third steps in the process. I start by creating a drawing that I transfer to tracing paper using a Pigma Micron pen. I generally use the 02 pen (0.3 mm line) unless I have an extremely detailed drawing, in which case I use an 01.

Then I tape the tracing paper to my lightbox and tape a piece of 140 lb. cold-pressed paper over it. Using an HB pencil, I lightly trace the image. When I'm finished, I "blot" the excess graphite off the surface using a kneaded eraser. That prevents graphite from contaminating the painting and also makes the lines faint enough that they don't attract attention in the finished painting. The next step -- soaking the paper to stretch it -- permanently fixes the pencil lines, so it's important to make sure your lines are quite faint before you soak the paper. You won't be able to erase them after the paper dries.

I soak the paper for 5-10 minutes in cold water, let the excess water drip off, and staple the paper to a support. In this case, I'm using gatorboard, but I sometimes use wooden boards that I've coated with several layers of polyurethane to make sure they're waterproof. (Just a note of caution -- the polyurethane must be fully cured before you use the board. I once had a student who attached her paper to a still-tacky board and ruined both the paper and the surface of the board.) I lay the board flat, someplace out of the way, and let the paper dry thoroughly.

I'll post more pictures as work progresses. Stay tuned.


  1. pulling up a chair.. sorry to hear about your dad. sending good thoughts!!

  2. Thanks for explaining your process. I'll be interested to see the finished product. And, I hope all goes well with your father. I know how difficult this can be.

  3. Thanks, Cindi and Kathy!! I appreciate the sympathetic words about my dad's circumstances too.

  4. Chris, I know you have so much on your mind that keeps you from creating but I'm glad you're doing this little painting for us, start to finish, just to keep yourself going. Creativity will help you destress. I believe that. In fact, I think I will get out the paper and pencil and just sketch a while today since I could use some destressing myself. I do hope all works out okay with your dad and I know it's a mess with families sometimes but hang in there - we're all pulling for you!

  5. Thanks for all the support and encouragement, Rhonda!! I'm really thankful to have such a wonderful community of friends out there.

  6. love this post and look forward to the upcoming related ones you are going to post! Kind and sympathetic thoughts to you on the difficulties with your dad's health.

  7. Thanks for visiting and leaving such a nice comment, Sandra.

  8. Best wishes for your Dad and you too.
    Enjoy your vacation.


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