Blank Slate for a New Commission
A Family Painting
I’m excited to start a new commission today. The couple that requested it want a still life that includes objects that are important to them; sculpture and pottery their children made, family silver, items from important travels, and so on.
I’m honored to do this work for them, and eager to begin. I’ve been to their home twice to discuss the project and view where it will hang. The composition has already been fully worked out. Rather than revealing that right now, I think I’ll just let it emerge as I proceed with the work.
Preparing the Panel
For now, though, I’m making the panel. We agreed to a dimension of 20×16 inches. The first step was to make a cradle for the panel. Sadly, I can’t show you this step. I was certain I took a picture of it in my workshop, but there is no such picture on my phone, so something went awry. A cradle is just a simple frame which sits behind a panel to prevent warping. The panel is then glued to the cradle.
I cut the panel about 1/2 inch larger than the cradle so I don’t need to worry about making exact alignments while gluing the components together. This leaves a margin of about 1/4 inch on all sides.
A quick pass through the table router removes the excess and leaves a perfectly flush edge. While this particular painting will be framed, this approach produces a panel that is perfectly suitable for hanging without a frame. After a quick sanding, the panel is ready for priming.
The ground (or gesso, or priming) is then applied to the surface of the panel and the edges. I mix black and white acrylic gesso to get this mid-tone gray, and I also add some marble dust. This makes the panel very easy to sand to an eggshell-smooth surface. It also gives it a little grit, and I like the way that accepts the paint. This panel will get three layers of ground; each one dried and sanded before the next.
I’m going to let this fully dry over the weekend, and I’ll start the actual work on the painting Monday.
Please follow along – I think you’ll enjoy watching this project!