Thursday, October 8, 2015

Josephina's Tea Party Watercolor Painting

A Doll's Tea Party Watercolor Painting in a New Frame

It's been a busy week moving in many different directions!  I'm continuing work on five landscape paintings which feature local views.  I've just completed number two, a view of the Marias River in the Rock City area.  I had no idea how much time this one would take...  In my mind, there is a sense of the place I want to capture and communicate and that takes time.  There are elements of the moment captured with camera that I so badly want to keep.  In the next three days, I'll resume work on the other three landscapes.  Their skies have all been laid down previously.  The fields and plains are yet to be finished.  

There's a pocket door I have acquired with plans to clean and repaint for a photo backdrop.  Etsy offers the option for five photos to be shown for each item listed.  With use of all five photo options, giving varying views especially in a mat and frame, the potential buyer has more information for purchase decisions.  My goal is to make the door my backdrop for displaying the paintings with mat and frame.  In addition, I'd like to have the option to add natural seasonal items for best presentation.

Recently, I've done some work on greeting card building as well.  I look forward to showing off progress in these different projects.  With frosted vellum I'll soon be creating overlays with printed text.  These will be layered on top of select photographs or prints of my artwork.  I've also got a supply of frosted shrink plastic; I'd like to fashion little tokens to be added as an extra beautiful detail.

So all of this has been incorporated around a busy family schedule with orthodontist, football games, medical appointments and more.  Yesterday, I had great initial plans to make big progress in the studio early in the morning.  Then I realized that much of our home was in need of my attention, so I spent the day with cleaning and laundry.  Of course, the housework is never completely finished; I'll be cleaning floors again soon.  Now I can sit and work today without the dread of housework looming.

My main focus for today is this brightly sunlit painting of  Josephina, an American Doll, seated up high on thick books, enjoying a tea party.  We've just recently taken part in a benefit for a local family.  Their daughter was the recipient of a liver transplant in July.  The fundraiser was a community effort to help with their travel expenses.  I was excited to be able to contribute and this painting seemed ideal.  It occurred to me that it's time to start including my children in the decision making.  They are in their teens but someday they may want to have pieces of my artwork for their own homes.  They were fine with letting this painting be donated.  They pointed out which paintings they'd like to have kept for now.

The one problem with this painting, in my mind, was the mat and frame.  I'm sorry I did not photograph it for before and after comparison.  It had a pale yellow top mat and navy inner mat along with a narrow navy wood frame.  I just couldn't give it as it was; it needed an improved mat and frame.  I attempted to paint the frame but it was no longer strong in corner construction so I bagged that idea.  A pale wood frame here in the studio was the beginning of my solution.  The color of the wood was so pale and uninspired!  Some kind of face lift was needed.

With bottles of Folk Art chalk paint and antiquing wax, I was able to give the frame a very different look.  I began by brushing the chalk paint onto the frame, carefully covering all surfaces seen when the frame hangs on the wall.  I let it dry for about an hour.  After the first coat, I did a little more to touch up for full coverage.  I nearly forgot one outside edge which would have been embarrassing later!  A little sanding in areas helped to keep the roughness in check.  Applying the antiquing was was a little trickier because it takes such a light touch.  A really stiff brush helps for better application.  I used a cloth to wipe away extra wax immediately.  I let it dry again until it was not as tacky to the touch.  With a cloth, I buffed the whole frame to bring out a bit of shine.

This is the painting and mat sitting beside the frame.  You can see I did not paint the back of the frame.  The paint could easily be transferred to the wall and we don't want that.  There's enough housecleaning to do as it is!  The glass has been cleaned with vinegar and a soft cloth on both sides.  There's just something about assembling a painting with a frame...there is always lint or debris that stays no matter what.  This painting had to be removed after it was all complete because even with my great care, there was still two tiny bits of unwanted debris inside.  Ack!

My next step in the process:  mounting the painting to the foam backing board.  One of my aunts owns a frame shop and much of her instruction stayed with me.  The mat or the backing board is either attached to the back of the painting at the top edge.  The painting is able to expand and contract without resulting in the watercolor paper buckling.  Below, there is a view of the work space at this stage.  The hairdryer and brush are to remove all remaining lint.  The damp blue sponge is sitting on a plastic tray.  The roll of acid free linen tape is what I use for hinging the painting on the mat board.

This is the when I recall my aunt using weighted bags to hold the artwork in place.  In quick, problem solving motion, I grab a rice filled sock.  (Why do I have this?  We heat it in the microwave and use it to soothe sore muscles.)  This will do the trick just fine!  What I have done is this:  I've placed a cut piece of foam board on the bottom, the painting in the middle and mat on top.  These three are sandwiched in a way so the painting is positioned for the best view.  The sock weight is placed on the painting and then the mat is set aside.  The painting is held in position while I apply the linen tape hinges.  You can see that the back of the box has instructions for two types of hinges.  I chose the one on the left.  The gummed tape is torn and then dampened on the sponge.  It's called a T-hinge because of how the two pieces are arranged for each hinge.

This photo is a better view of the two types of hinges.  Acid Free gummed linen tape holds the painting to the foam board.  It is only hinged at the top.  It's difficult to see but I used the T-hinge method.  The linen tape is not really visible, I'm sorry.  It's just too similar in color with the foam board.

The painting is now attached to the foam board and the mat is set on top.  Here is the point at which we must be super picky about little hitch-hiking lint.  I think I should have used paper towels or flour sack towels.  The microfiber cloth just didn't perform like I'd hoped it might.

The three parts (mat, painting, foam board) are placed into the frame face down toward the glass.  Using the screwdrivers, I carefully bent the staple brackets down over the foam board.  The painting is now securely sandwiched in and I can hardly wait to see how it looks from the front.  

Without double-sided tape on hand, I chose a different method to attach the dust seal on the back.  I wish I had not attached the hanger earlier.  I have done these steps so infrequently that I forget what steps should be done in what order.  This has been a great refresher!  The double-stick tape or a dot glue runner would work much better by far.  I have a large roll of gummed kraft paper tape so I chose to use this for the sake of completing without another supply run.  The dollar store sells brown kraft type wrapping paper and foam board which is such a great find!  

I did not photograph the following was a bit sticky.  I needed an extra set of hands.  I measured and cut the wrapping paper to cover the back of the foam board.  The gummed kraft tape was measured and cut for all four lengths.  The piece of kraft tape for the top edge needed to be cut to allow for the hanger to be exposed.  I used a spray bottle to wet down the back of the tape.  It's useful to know now that the gummed kraft tape works but not the easiest application.

This is one view of the finished work all ready to go...the mat and frame are such a fantastic improvement!  I love the look of the chalk paint and antiquing wax; they added to it without distracting from the artwork.

With a business card on the inside edge of the frame, I'm nearly ready to drop it off for the benefit auction.  I almost hate to see it go!  With so much effort in every piece, it can be difficult to part with each one.

The story behind the painting:

This painting was the result of a summer Saturday spent outdoors with artist friends.  This arrangement was placed in the center of Athena's backyard.  Great attention was spent on every detail to place each item with care.  Each artist brought her art supply bag and a food contribution for lunchtime.  We chose the vantage point that best appealed to us, scattering to tables for work space.  The chatting hopped from one subject to another.  When the neck gets sore or legs need stretching, we'd get up and wander to see progress going on with others.  The camera was needed for the necessary reference photos but back then (ooh, I feel old) it was necessary to take them somewhere to be developed.  No digital tablet or cell phone with camera.  My style has continued to develop since this painting came about.  Those days of art club were just so precious because we challenged each other and shared our knowledge.  We weren't competing; we were encouraging.  There's a gift in having camaraderie...working alongside one another.

One final touch:

There was one last special touch I made sure to remember in order for this to be complete.  Sometimes, when I donate a piece, they are mistaken for prints.  There's a big difference between an original painting and a print.  Huge.  There's planning, prepping, supplies, working through techniques, researching methods, and many hours.  There's great effort taken to complete a painting from inspiration to last brush stroke.  Such care and detail is given that is not there in a print.  Prints are nice for the pocket book  but they do not retail the same as original artwork.  From an artist's point of view, I need the viewers, bidders and buyer to be aware that this is the real thing, not a reproduction.  On the back dust cover, a business card attached and a handwritten note:

Now Josephina and her tea party are ready to go to a new home.  A place where she'll be enjoyed daily.  It's gratifying to know that what I've poured out on paper with a brush is being appreciated by another.  Someone valued it enough to make it theirs.  Thank you to those who have done so for me or another artist.  I'm sure with all my being, we would still carry on creating art regardless... but it is the highest compliment to have another seek to have it in their own collection.  There are probably more than 25 paintings of mine purchased and now in private collections.  I've been painting for over 25 years and have never kept a written record of artwork purchased.  That sounds crazy, I know.  Now, I wish I had written it all down.  This may be a low estimate, it's hard to accurately remember.  I feel a deep appreciation for those collectors.  At some point, it would be wonderful to have photos of each painting as it hangs in their homes!  Maybe through the blog and other social media, I can begin to record these now.

If you have a piece of my artwork hanging in your home, would you please be willing to send me a photograph to  I would be glad to share it here, with your permission.  I've got some of these paintings shared on Pinterest; I can share that they are in your private collection as well.

Oh, this has been fun to share with you today!  I hope you'll continue to return so I can share more about this artistic journey.


because she must make art.

No comments:

Post a Comment