Spring Panel Making (Part 1)

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Now that the weather is warming up, it's the perfect time for a panel making session. In the next couple of posts I'll explain the process of making gesso and preparing the panels that I use for studies and smaller works. It's a pretty involved process but the end result is well worth it. Here's what you'll need:

  • a VERY rigid support (either a well braced panel or 3/4" cabinet grade plywood)
  • muslin to cover panels
  • 1 bag hide glue pellets or flakes (usually sold as "rabbit skin glue")
  • water
  • table saw
  • scissors
  • 3" chip brush
  • large glass bowl
  • large pot (glass bowl should fit partially into it)
Photobucket I cut up a 4' x 8'board into small panels of various sizes.

Next, prepare the hide glue: Photobucket You'll need enough to cover the panels on all sides with two coats. Soaking the glue ensures that the water is evenly absorbed by the glue particles. DON'T SKIP THIS STEP.

Photobucket You'll need a double boiler to heat the glue. Since I don't own one, I use a large glass bowl set into a large pot filled with water. I put the whole thing on the stove, bring the water to a boil and then set the heat to low (see fig 1.) When the glue is melted (it should have the consistency of a clear broth), you want to liberally coat the front, back, and sides of the panels with it and let them dry. Two coats is best.

Next, cut the muslin to fit the panels. This will go between the wood and the gesso to ensure any cracks that develop in the wood over time won't transfer to the priming. For a clean edge, cut the fabric large enough so that you can fold it over the side (but not to the back). This gets glued down with the gesso which I find easier than trying to cut the excess fabric off with a razor blade.
Liberally coat the front of the panel with glue and lay the muslin on top. Press it down and smooth it out with your fingers. Let this dry completely before moving on the next step: PREPARING THE GESSO.

Studio visit

Monday, March 14, 2011


Had someone come in for a studio visit over the weekend. We pulled out EVERYTHING from the racks and made a huge mess, but it was so much fun to see all the work I've accumulated over the years.

Welcome to the Dollhouse

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The Piano Factory

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I've been visiting the piano factory near my studio for several weeks now. There's something strangely poetic about these absurdly large instruments, all bundled and strapped and gathering dust. After doing some small charcoal drawings and a small color study, I decided it was time to get into the big sketches. This is a little over life sized (24x30in). Hopefully this piece will stand on it's own, but it's really about gathering info for the scale that I'll be working on in the MUCH larger piece. More to come soon!

On The Easel

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


New stuff and old stuff I've been meaning to finish.

Self Portrait: Getting started

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


It's been while since I've started a self portrait, but the timing feels right. I'm hoping to push the envelope in the new series I'm starting, so some serious introspection is due. A self portrait shouldn't be about projecting an ego to others, but about truly examining oneself and putting the result forward unfiltered. Working on linen, this was supposed to be the rough drawing for the painting to come but I got a little carried away. It's going to be tough to cover it up!

Sorolla at the Hispanic Society of America, NY

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Photobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosPhotobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosPhotobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosPhotobucket Pictures, Images and PhotosPhotobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

After two years abroad, the Sorolla paintings from the Hispanic society of america are back in their home in west Harlem. Although I'd only seen them once, they had a profound impact on me at the beginning of my painting career and I was excited to see if they held the same impact. I wasn't let down. Firstly, these paintings are massive, multi figure compositions. 12-15 feet tall, totaling 227 ft long! How one man did this, I have no idea, but it did take him 8 years. Secondly, they were done ON SITE in the various parts of Spain they depict.  Once you get over the sheer magnitude of this accomplishment and take a look up close, a whole other world awaits . So much color! So simply drawn! And the brushwork! The light and energy that radiates from these paintings is impossible to reproduce; like all great paintings, they must be seen in person to fully experience them. For those who can't though, here are some details to tide you over.