Preparation, preparation, preparation

Although I still don’t feel much like painting, I am getting more enthusiastic about it I have been preparing some mdf boards for testing – post conversation with Stewart Geddes.

He paints on mdf boards that have been shaped and are quite deep. We discussed my floating canvas panels and how those could be created with mdf and a canvas stretcher on the back – which would make them more standard (and acceptable) for hanging.

My Dad gave me some offcuts of mdf he had in the garage of varying thicknesses – which we cut into test panels (small, large, narrow, square). My Dad has been great at working out a method for me to be able to make the stretcher frames for the backs of the panels myself (a genius woodworker, carver and ex-carpenter) and we are going to have a masterclass next month. In the meantime I am working out how to prepare the flat panels, paint on them and decide which thickness I prefer etc.

I initially sanded all of the panels to ‘break’ the surface to allow the paint to go in. However, on SOME of the panels, this meant it became very fluffy. I painted them all with emulsion anyway and thought I would see how they dried. I left them to dry on my washing airer (!). It is such a useful item for drying art!!!! It allows me to paint the edges and dry them without fluff getting on them.

Stewart suggested I needed to sand them again after painting and do a couple of coats. I wasn’t sure why this was necessary, but did it anyway and BOY! Now I understand why. On sanding the panels, all the marks from the brush strokes were obliterated and the fluffiness went too. This surface looked great. SO, so flat. Something I haven’t been able to achieve with anything on canvas because of the woven texture.

Sanding removed some of the paint, so they needed another coat anyway. This time I put on a much thicker coat (rather than the 1st more watery one) and another coat on top of that with brush strokes in the other direction. When these coats have dried, I will lightly sand the surface again – and hopefully this will leave a solid white surface that is very smooth ready for painting.

This is rather like DIY and I should have realised that is ALL about preparation… So why am I so surprised that this is any less work? But I like the ritual of this preparation. It is painting, but without any expressive qualities and is good for breaking me back in. Stewart said he spends loads of time preparing the panels. I can see why. The surface becomes very important. I am now keen to start experimenting with marks, layers, crisp lines etc. before going on to making complete panels along with back frames.

Here are some pictures of the panels drying showing the brush marks. These may be useful for future works, but not right now.


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