I just realized that I completely forget to post the finishing touches on my Knolls painting. I left off at one step before the picture above. To get to this point I had mixed a transparent amalgamation of browns with a touch of linseed oil and scumbled some more around the dirt, paying extra attention to the dark edges. I had tried adding a few more details but decided that the process I had started with on this painting was a little rushed and left the image looking somewhat blurry. Some friends had told me that they prefer this look but it was not my intention and I have not come to terms with it. I don't dislike this painting but I will probably avoid this look in future pieces.
Since the painting was finished and COMPLETELY DRY by this point I began the varnishing process by using a soft, synthetic filbert brush to clean off any bits of dust and dirt. Be sure to brush lightly when doing this on a painting with very fine layers of paint. Stop immediately if you see any discoloration on your brush.
For my smaller paintings I use Kamar Varnish. It is removable, unlike Damar Varnish, and it is also flexible, meaning it won't crack or discolor over time. I also enjoy using the aerosol varnish as well because it will not leave unwanted brush strokes on the painting. Be sure to use it in a ventilated, dust-free area and, for the love of god, wear a mask*.
I am pretty sure you are supposed to hold the can about a foot away from the painting while spraying. I do not have the directions in front of me right now because I take the photos at my studio and write the captions from home. BE SURE TO FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS though or else you will end up with a fun mess.
Here is my fun mess. Kamar Varnish is like fly paper while it is drying. I few bits of dust landed on my painting before the varnish was set. They were too large to ignore so I had to pull them off with tweezers. It wasn't a big of a deal where some of the varnish was wet but it was a huge problem where the varnish had started to dry. As I had begun removing the dust away from the painting the varnish had started peeling off like a thin layer of Elmer's Glue. This left an exposed circle on my painting with a flaky ring around it. Technically the varnish is removable in case of disasters like these but I use such thin layers of paint I do not trust applying mineral spirits, even when the paint is dry. I couldn't photograph this problem because time was essential and I was a panicked mess. I took the Kamar can, held it a distance away from the painting, and began varnishing another coat. This solved the ring problem but left me with a new problem. Everything now looked somewhat grainy with this thin coat. I think I held the can too far away and the varnish left a layer of sand-like micro beads that reflected light opaquely, as opposed to a smooth, thick, sheen that reflects light like a sheet of glass.
You can see the difference when you compare it with this photo of the varnish on my previous painting. I thought about trying to lay on another thick layer of varnish but decided that it was not too distracting and wouldn't be worth the risk and time. After all, I have never tested solutions to this problem and had no way of guaranteeing that a thick layer on top wouldn't just accentuate the micro beads of the layer below. Though nobody else will notice (unless they read this blog of course) I know it will probably drive me crazy in the future. But I can't change the painting, and I can't change the way I see it either, so I decided to move on.
|Image from Douglas and Sturgess|
I have seen a lot of other artists edge their paintings with little foam brushes and slowly apply the paint bit by bit. That takes forever. Get a thick brush like the 1" hardware store brush pictured above and load it full of paint. Then press the brush straight into the edge and apply a little pressure. Angle the handle down and little to the side, away from the direction you are going to make the stroke. Since I had to take the photo above while painting the brush looks angled in the wrong direction. You should be forcing the bristles into a little more of a "u" shape. This way you can paint long strokes across the side in no time. These strokes can be smoothed out with a square edge, soft synthetic brush easily after the paint has been applied, though it may not be necessary. Just BE SURE TO NOT PUT TOO MUCH PRESSURE BENDING THE BRISTLES because they may slip off of the surface and fling paint onto your painting.
I use eye bolts on the inner sides of the supports as opposed to screwing in d-rings on the back, wall-facing sides. This holds the painting flush to the wall when hanging with a wire. If it were much larger and heavier you should consider hanging with d-rings on the back (sometimes even directly off of the rings without a wire). The benefit of d-rings is that the pressure pulls laterally as opposed to it directly pulling opposite, as with an eye bolt. In other words, if the wood around the screw's threading ever weakens over time the eye bolt can be ripped out by the weight of the hanging piece. The only downside is that d-rings tend to make the top of the artwork lean off of the wall. In my case, these paintings are light, so I risk it for the presentation.
Normally you would never need to use two eye bolts (four total) with a piece this small. As you may have noticed in the photo though, I had to screw these things into a knot in the wood. This can be such a nightmare that I will suggest now to never buy (or build) a cradled** wood panel with a knot where your wire will go. Always check that there are no knots a third of the way down from the top of the cradling. In the case pictured above I had to hammer in the eye bolts before trying to twist them tight. The first one didn't grip very well because the hard wood kept stripping. I had no choice but to screw in another so I figured I might is well use the first one for a little extra support.
The wiring looks pretty ridiculous but at least I know it will hold. I thought that I had already covered how to properly wire a piece in a previous post but upon closer inspection it looks like I must have missed it. I have better photos for instruction so I will have to get to the wiring process later under a "Framing" portion of the blog.