Diy Panels in Batches

Hello everyone, what’s next after making my pochade box?

You guessed it, making my own painting panels. Again, I decided to make my own painting substrates to save money and end up with the surface that I like to paint on. For the most part, I like painting on rigid surfaces over canvas. I would like to try painting on Belgian linen but it’s more expensive than canvas. So if you are interested in my process, read on below:

Panel Batch
I recently got some Ampersand’s Gessoboard panels that I like and have used. The ones I bought are small panels that come in a pack of 4. Even so, buying pre-made gesso panels can get pricey if you plan to use a lot of it. Case in point, for me it would have cost approximately $300 CAD vs. $45 for the amount of panels I got out of my diy batch.

Despite my wanting to save money, I do not compromise when it comes to best practices for producing archival quality work. The word “archival” is very loosely used in legal terms when it comes to commercial art materials. For me, I think of “archival” as preserving artwork in the integrity of the methods and materials used. That means using artist quality paints with pigments tested for high lightfastness against colour fading, acid/lignin free substrates that does not yellow over time, taking steps to prevent warping and cracking of the artwork, to the best of my ability. I try to take into account all current available precautions to ensure an archival quality work. So, I went about making my panels taking these considerations into account.

On to the process, I ended up getting 1/8″ Baltic Birch plywood. Some people use Hardboard or MDF which are cheaper, but depending on the manufacturer of these products you don’t know whats in them. So I got the birch plywood which is composed of wood sheets laid in perpendicular directions for stability, and glued together. I intended to only make relatively small panels, largest being 11 x 14″. If I wanted larger panels, I would go up a size to 1/4″ thick. If the size gets larger than that, the plywood might end up being very heavy and you might want to consider other options. I got my local hardware store to cut the plywood sheet into 30″ square sections to make it more manageable, then I brought it home.

Next, I want to talk about Support Induced Discoloration, SID for short. When working on wood, I used to seal my surface with Golden’s GAC 100 This prevents yellowing that is caused by contaminants released by moisture from the paint, into the wood. SID is especially applicable with acrylic or water-soluble paints that are light in colour. The yellowing and discoloration will show through.

When using oil paint on a wood surface, the sealing of the wood is to prevent the wood from sucking out the oils in the paint and causing “sinking in” of the paint. This makes the oil paint look dull and uneven. I wanted to seal the wood surface but I was looking for a bulk size sealer to save money. So I called Golden; a company that manufactures the GAC 100 and professional quality acrylic paints/mediums. I found out that their current testing revealed that their Gloss Polymer medium is even better at preventing SID. They also informed me that wood can be sealed with a commercial sealer without any problems. I have to say that I appreciate Golden’s honesty and impartiality in sharing this information.

At first, I tried cutting the panels out by hand and I used 2 coats of gesso with a foam brush. I loved the fine linen texture I got, but it look way too long:
Looking to save money and time in this project, I wanted to make a large batch of panels. So I sealed both sides of my plywood with a commercial sealer using one of those small microfibre rollers. After both sides of the plywood was dry, I switched out for a new roller and gessoed one side of the plywood in a mid-tone gray. After the first coat of gesso was dry, I rolled on the gesso in the opposite direction. I gessoed for a total of 3 coats and made sure it was dry.

Then, I borrowed my father’s table saw and his help, and cut the plywood into pieces. I tried to optimize the amount of panels I could get out of them, so I cut them into various sized small panels. I left the gessoed plywood unsanded until all the panels were cut out. I didn’t want to worry about damaging the surface while cutting the plywood.

After they were cut out, I test sanded the gesso surface. It came out great, it felt velvety with only a slight tooth, just the way I like it. It only takes a quick light sanding that can be done before painting or it can be batch sanded when time allows.

I wanted to mention that when oil painting on acrylic gesso, you have to wait until it’s completely dry. This does NOT mean dry to the touch. Depending on temperature and humidity, total water evaporation could take 3 days to a couple of weeks (this information also from Golden). If water is not completely evaporated, it could cause cracking and peeling off of the oil paint. This is another reason, I wanted to bulk prepare all the panels so I can paint on it at any time.

I hope I didn’t bore you with the technical details. And I want to say that my going on about my work being archival, is not because I consider my artwork is “all that”. I have just seen so much deterioration in artwork in my former job as a picture framer. And I feel that since I have invested time, energy, money and soul into my work, why not do it right? At the same time, I am not against being spontaneous and using whatever is on hand to create something. However, that creation might not look exactly like it did, the day you created it.

My Paintbook Pochade part 3

Hi everybody, it’s another Monday I hope your week goes well.

Here is the final installment of my DIY paintbook pochade. The project sounded pretty simple enough but as you can see, the process is a bit involved to get things just right.

Moving on, I made sure everything fit together alright before taking all the hardware apart to paint it. I chose to paint it black to resemble the Edge Pro Paintbook:
img_3881I didn’t have household paint so I ended up using artist’s acrylic paint I had on hand. It’s a pain to paint 3D objects, since you have to wait for one side to dry before you can paint the othersidešŸ˜” (and repeat if you’re doing 2 coats, not for those who are impatient).

Here is the box assembled with those spiffy friction hinges:
img_3884I chose to varnish it to give it extra protection. This involved sanding and varnishing. Did I mention I hate sanding? But, the finish is so much nicer when it is sanded though.

Below, is a modification I made that was a little involved. I wanted a way to keep the glass palette down if the box was turned upside down. I don’t think the box will ever be turned upside down, but just in casešŸ˜œ. I wanted the most elegant/unobtrusive method. I don’t know if this is the best method out there, but this is what my brain thought up; I tried to counter sink some flat head screws but my drill was too big to operate inside of the box. So I had to hand-carve the counter-sink holes for the screws (I know, it’s frustrating but you gotta do what you gotta do). Then, I screwed the screws in until it was flush with the sides of the cradle braces. Then, I got some rare earth magnets that I had around the house (from another project I did) and attached (magnetically) them to the four screws on the inside of the box to hold the glass down:img_3886

Next, I secured 3M heavy-duty velcro on the middle part of the lid. This is to secure the panels/canvases that will lean against the lid. The other side of the velcro that will be attached to the canvas or panels will be the cheap kind from the dollar store because they are temporary and will have to be removed anyway:

Ta Da! Here is My Paintbook in action with mid-tone painted (painted underneath the glass) glass palette:img_3889

I hope you enjoyed this post, I don’t know if it Interested anyone but hopefully, someone will find it useful. When I was looking around the interweb, I didn’t find anything like this pochade box, so this was a real experiment for me. Whether it was a worthwhile experiment, only paintings produced with it will tell.

My Paintbook Pochade Part 2

I started off with these types of wood cradled panels from an art store. I chose to use two 11″x14″ panels. One is 1.5″ deep and the other is .75″ deep:

img_3911I got these cradle panels pretty cheap, the total for both was under $20 CAD on sale. These panels have pretty hefty cradle braces but the painting surface is very thin; I think it’s about 1/8th inch. So I noted that most of the support system, if any, had to be born by the cradle braces on the sides.

Below is the bottom of the pochade box using the 1.5″ profile panel:

img_3877I got 4mm glass cut at the local glazier’s and made sure it fit.

Next, I drilled a hole on the bottom so I can put my finger through it; I wanted this to make it easier to lift out the glass palette if I wanted to clean it etc..:

I also wanted the glass palette to sit higher in the base because I didn’t want the sides to be too deep. However, since the bottom panels are not very strong, I had to make sure that most of the support will be provided by the glueing of the wooden strips to the sides of the braces. The glass will sit on top of the platform created by the wooden strips:

The top of the box is a little different. The slimmer profile of the panel came with thicker but shallower cradle braces:

I found a piece of wood around the house that fit into the centre of the space created inside the bracing. This piece will serve as additional support and will allow the smaller canvas/panels sit flush against the lid. I glued this piece of wood mostly against where it joins with the bracing as well as the bottom, touching the base panel.

Next, for the easel part of the box lid, got some aluminum L shaped rod. I cut it (by hand, not as bad as I thought) to fit the top panel. I pre-drilled the cradle brace and aluminum rod and screwed it into the brace. I made sure the support part of the aluminum surface was level with the brace edge.

The most expensive part of the project were these specialty hinges shown above. These are adjustable torque friction hinges. They can be adjusted to hold at any angle. In my application, the hinges are strong enough to hold a small to medium size canvas or panel. Again, I pre-drilled all the screw holes needed to attach the hinges onto the two cradle panels.

Sorry about the wonky pictures and I hope my explanations make sense. I’m not really good at explaining and documenting things while I’m working on a project. I will post the final part of the pochade making process in my next post. I wish you a good weekend.

My Paintbook Pochade Part 1

I’ve been thinking of painting in oils for some time now . The only time I tried was when I was sixteen and hated it because of the smell (not only the paint thinner but the linseed oil that is the binder for most oils back then). Now, in our modern age, there are more options in oil paint. Oil paints available now are made with walnut oil, safflower oil, poppy-seed oil, and water-soluble oil to name a few. Despite my not having worked with oil, I always liked the look of oil paintings. because of this, I started to do some researching and found that I needed a palette of sorts.

I wanted the palette to be closable so that the wet paint is not disturbed (ie. accidentally dunk my arm in it). I also did not want it to take up too much space and be able to support small to medium size paintings.

I found the perfect palette called Paintbook from Edge Pro gear:

Paintbook from EdgePro

This baby is sleek and compact. It is closable like a laptop with a glass palette. It also serves as an easel with a lid that stays open in position so canvas or panels can be supported. Sadly, it was way above my price range ($400+ USD, I live in Canada so it’s more like $600, a little exaggeration, but not by much). It is a thing of beauty, but it was not to be.

So, I decided to make my own and came up with my paintbook pochade box (approx. 60 CAD$):

My version “Paintbook”

I’m satisfied with the way this came out though it took a bit of finagling. Things are simple to make in theory, but when you don’t have a woodworking shop with all the tools set up, things can get a little tricky and sometimes a little frustrating. If you are in interested in the process of making this box, stay tuned…