|Isn’t this a happy vision? A whole bunch of paintings varnished and drying. I wish I had a spot for them in the shade, but will put them away before I go out this afternoon to teach.|
I’m prepping work for a show this week, at Gallery Salon and Spa. My neighbor stopped by yesterday, when I was covered in sawdust. She said, “Boy, the life of an artist is really glamorous, isn’t it?”
A few weeks ago, Erika Sorbello-Schramm stopped by my house and selected work for the show. This is the most interesting part of the process for me, since curators seldom see my work the way I do. We agreed that this show would include some of the nudes I’ve been working on for the past several years, which meant they needed varnishing and framing.
|And frames for same, awaiting their paintings.|
To look its best, an oil painting should be finished with a conservation-grade varnish after it’s had a year or so for the paint to fully cure and oxidize. The goals are protection and reversibility (because we start with the presumption that we’ve created a masterpiece which will need future conservation work).
|Clamped with double ratchet tie-downs.|
Like every artist I know, I’m a tinkerer. So I cut Winsor-Newton’s matte conservation varnish with a small amount of their gloss varnish, giving me a slightly satin finish. I warm the matte varnish in hot water so the beeswax in it dissolves… easy on a hot August day.
|Ratchet gives precise tightening.|
I love making frames. Light frames hold together easily with glue; heavier frames sometimes need reinforcement. I have long coveted a biscuit joiner, and went out last week to buy one. However, a clerk at the local woodworking store talked me out of it, encouraging me to buy a pricey drill jig instead. He showed me a video of it being used to join miters, and my resistance was overcome. However, my intuition was correct; the bit skips on hardwood mitered corners.
|It’s very easy to ding the corners.|
I did meet a new glue at my local hardware store, and it may obviate the need for a mechanical joiner. It’s Titebond Molding and Trim Glue. It stays “open” long enough that one can reposition the joins without panicking, but it only needs to be clamped for about half an hour (is fully dry after 24 hours). That makes mass-producing frames much easier.
I have about four different corner-clamp systems, but I ended up using ratchet tie-downs for this because of the size of the frames. Honestly, they work as well as anything, and cost about a fraction of what corner clamps usually run.
Tomorrow I’ll insert the paintings into their frames and package them for delivery. And then package myself for the glamorous life of an artist.