Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sunday Pick: Nathalie Du Pasquier

I've been frequenting Nathalie Du Pasquier's wonderful website.  The crispness and specificity of looking carefully in the work is really refreshing to me.  Makes me want to paint from a big still life set up.  

Du Pasquier was born in Bordeaux in 1957 but has lived in Milan for the last 35 years.  She was a textile designer at the start of her career but fully committed to painting in 1987.  Her website is full of images of work, her studio and just a good website representative of a personal vision.  Really nice.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

How I Frame Paintings on Panel

Today I'm doing something here I have never done.  A how-to if you will.  I write my blog mostly to myself.  Well that's not true, to myself and in hopes that there are other painters or people out there that might get excited about the same things as me.  

But recently Alex said to me 'Are you a Blogger?' And I was like 'no way.'  And it made me upset and I wasn't sure why at first.  But I realized its because it signifies something I don't think of this as (even though it is a blog and I am the -er).  And that's not to say a blogger is a bad thing but I definitely don't consider myself one or want to be one.  

I think of a blogger as someone who is doing what they do as their profession or hoping to make it their profession and someone who wants more readers.  More readers = more money, power, whatever. I am a painter first and then probably an adjunct second and definitely not a blogger third.  I just like to write about and look at art and I am happy to be in a dusty corner of the internet, hanging out, because that means I can say what I actually want to say about painting and what is the point if not that?  If my mom and those who googled 'Susan Rothenberg Drawings' were the only people to stumble here that would be ok by me.  But in reality I guess there are quite a few more than that.

So all this is to say I have gotten emails from people who do read this blog and have asked me about different things.  I usually just write back and we talk about painting and its nice.  But recently I have gotten like 4 emails just about how I frame my paintings.  And so while I think this will be a one time or rare thing, I decided to answer in a visual presentation, the how-to.  So that is how this came about and also hello to whoever you are, thanks for stopping by.

How To Float Frame a Painting on Panel or Masonite

1. You have to cradle the back of the picture.  This means running strips of wood around the edge to give it depth.  (See Photo 6)  A cradle also keeps panel pieces from warping.  I like to use select pine 1x2x4...about $2.50 a piece at Lowes.

 2. Make a 45 degree cut into one side.

3. Line it up with the back of your painting (this one is on masonite) and make a mark where the other side needs to be cut.  This doesn't have to be too exact because it can be a little smaller than the back, just not bigger.  Don't want it to hang over in the front.

4. Do the same for the next piece.  

5. You want the strips directly across from each other to be exactly the same size so line it up like this to make your pencil mark.  If the painting is a square you will line up all four pieces.

6. There are all four cradle pieces, now they need to be glued on. 

7.  Using wood glue and clamps, get a secure fit in the corners and let dry for at least an hour.

8. Now for the frame you have to do those same steps.  I start with moulding that a friend builds me (bottom of picture) but you can join two long strips yourself as well.  I use poplar (little less expensive) if I am making a painted frame and maple if not.  The finished frame above is maple.

9.  Here's where I have a little bit of a photo lapse but you can see the four separate pieces of cut moulding.  Depending how big you want your float, measure the cuts a little further out.  I like somewhere around a quarter inch float, bigger or smaller depending on the size of the painting.  Once you cut all the frame moulding, check your cradled painting inside before gluing the pieces together.

10.  When you are ready to glue the corners of the frames I suggest corner clamps.  My studio mate lets me borrow hers and they make a world of difference.  Glue the two L's in as tight a fit you can get.  Let dry for an hour plus.  This is a problem for me I always rush it.  

11.  Glue the two L's together and let that sit for a few hours to get really solid.  (envision four clamps around the corners of the frame above)

12. Once the frame is dry, time to sand.  Least favorite part.  If you are painting the frames you don't have to be as perfect with it but still you need to sand well.  Either with a sander (thank you again studio mate) or by hand go around the whole thing with medium, fine and extra fine grit sandpaper.  Make sure the corners stay sharp but get addressed well.

13.  If you are painting, make sure to dust the frame off really well.  Then I use a sponge brush and basic white eggshell paint, about 3 coats.

14.  If you are not painting you may like to oil or wax the frame wood to protect it.  Then pop your painting in and using foam pieces or paper get the float secure so when you turn it over it doesn't shift.  Turn it over and hammer in 4 little nails from the back of the frame to the cradle on all sides.  Put in the hooks and wire you desire, remove foam/paper pieces and its all done.

15.  Put it on the wall.  I also sign the back of the frame.  (this is a painted version, I used a slightly tinted paint)

Hope that may be helpful.  I actually don't consider myself a talented framer so its kind of weird to be doing this post but I have experimented with a lot of frame options when it comes to working on panel and this is by far the best I have found.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What to Listen to In the Studio

Me in the car (probably listening to NPR)  2015, Oil on Panel

A bad day happened to me a few months ago:  I finished listening to every This American Life episode.  What to listen to while painting had been a problem a couple years ago before I found Ira.  I sometimes listened to music but it quickly gets old and empty for me, even when shuffling all pandora stations together. 

 I tried some 'books on tape' because I love to read novels and while I discovered I really liked the arc of timing where there is a development in plot, I ultimately feel too involved in my own creative problems with the painting to give the book enough attention.  Which is when I stumbled into This American Life.  I listen to NPR a lot in the car (still can not believe that -- I remember years of hating Terry Gross when my mom listened, but yea, I've become her) and realized it has the perfect tone to tune in and out of.

But at that time, maybe 2012?, there weren't a lot of ways I could figure out how to listen through my computer or phone so I just went to This American Life's website and played that way for about three years, interspersing music in from time to time.  

Luckily, unbeknownst to me, while I was doing that really good podcasts were being built in very similar styles -- documentary, human interest type ranging from funny to heartbreaking.  So here are my favorites in no particular order:

1.  The Sporkful -- humorous discussion of food from the worst pasta shapes to how to apply hot sauce to pizza.
2.  Strangers -- from a producer of the Moth (another good one) stories of her personal love life and stories of connection.
3.  Reply All -- humorous stories loosely themed around the internet and new technology

4. James O'Brien's Mystery Hour -- a british radio show where random people call in with questions (ex. why don't seagulls sit in trees) and other people call in if they know the answer.

5.  Serial -- no explanation needed I don't think, everyone seems to know this one

6. StoryCorps -- 5 minute dialogues between people who know each other in various ways

7.  Criminal -- stories about the criminal justice system

With these and their feeds of past episodes available I've got a good amount of listening and painting to do.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Recent Philly Shows

 I've seen some really good local shows recently that just opened.  The first is at Kelly Writer's House which is an actual house on Penn's campus at 38th and Locust where students gather and different events about writing and art take place.  It has the most wonderful aura in there.  I'm not someone who is generally so sensitive to that but you can't help but take a deep breath entering the space.  It is cozy and beautiful and light filled and you can feel the energy of people having great times and discussions in its corners.  

What brought me in was Samantha Mitchell's show In Grain, a series of beautiful prints hung thoroughout the first floor. (apologies for some of the photos having glare)

Another show that just opened is Smart Play at Gross Mccleaf.  It is the work of Todd Keyser and David Kettner.

I especially loved the painting above for how minimalist it was but how much it opened up as a space with light.

And then yesterday I went to Swarthmore College's List Gallery to see the work of Kevin Snipes.  I wasn't familiar with his work but have been really into ceramic stuff recently.  This show blew my hair back!  It was so good -- weird forms and narratives, it completely turns functional pottery on its head.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Black is my new White

I remember when I was in graduate school one of my semester end group crits centered around how I use too much white in paintings.  One critic said it was a crutch and the remaining 15 minutes were spent pointing it out.  Since then I had a heightened consciousness for my use of white, sometimes just indulging it and other times forcing myself to omit it from my palette completely.

Recently I can not get enough of what you might call the opposite.  Blacks and blues that cover.  With white I liked its transparency and even just the gesso white of the board, the pristine, light filled quality.  But I've been finding the rich darks so seductive in their subtlety.  I bought a bunch of different blacks at the suggestion of another painter and it has fed my investigation.

Another thing I find so nice is how it can be dense and deep or flat.  I like the way it pulls a viewer to approach at an intimate distance.

Stray Boy, 2014, Oil on Panel

Detail of an in progress painting

Midnight Remote, 2015, Oil on Panel
 This one and this one too, they were precursors to this obsession.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Snow Day Creations

Even though we only got about 3 inches of snow, there was enough hype over the "Blizzard of 2015" to get me two snow days.  I stayed indoors and off the roads like the good citizen that I am, and used the time to do some creative projects I've had on my mind for quite some time.

The first (above) is a Nugget pillow!  Nug loves to put her head on a small pillow.  I have one with sequins on it and another with embroidery from Mexico, both that I really like, that she is constantly drooling on.  So I figured I'll make her her own pillow.  (Because that's not a spoiled dog or anything.)  And then I saw this cat pillow, and figured "oh! if I make it look like Nugget then she will know it's hers."  And so far its working.  I always knew there was genius inside that thick head of hers.

Staying with the theme of pillows, I decided to give another one a face lift.  A couple months back I bought a box of Rit dye for like $2 to jump on the dip dye bandwagon.  I tried that with a white shirt and the results were terrible. 

 But I love the pillow pictured left, it was just getting dingy even after being washed.  So I threw it in a dye bath and rewashed it and I love it now.  It's funny because in my paintings I keep covering original paintings with a uniform layer of blue.  I think I just need to put my whole living room in a blue dye bath.

And what kind of snow day is it without cooking?  Especially a soup.  So I made a minestrone.  It's pretty classic although I used gluten free noodles which turned out surprisingly well, sometimes they disintegrate, and some aged balsamic on top.  

The one big family secret I will share and my mommom would be so distraught to know I am doing this...add a sweet potato to broths.  They disintegrate in a good way and sweeten and thicken the broth.  We do it with chicken soup and I did it with this soup and it really added to the flavor. 

And finally, I replanted this pig pot!  My friends gave me this amazing planter for my birthday and I had been keeping basil in it.  But that all died, its too cold in the kitchen.  So I split succulents and replanted them here.  I recently learned about this which I guess a lot of people know but I had no idea.  You can take an arm of a succulent and plant it in the soil and it will grow roots.  I tried it with another planter and its been about 4 months, so far so good.  It's great because when my original three little pots are looking leggy I just break them off and replant.