Saturday, January 30, 2016

Missing Pieces

Finished restoration

This large oval  frame was damaged when being fitted for a mirror. Unfortunately, the pieces that came off were not found. The biggest missing section was about three inches long, encompassing a section of the bold outer ornament. And of course, this was needed ASAP.

This is usually one of the simplest types of repair, but this one was more difficult since when the original composition ornament was steamed and bent over the frame, there were some very thin sections at the high point, while the flowers facing out were quite thick and three dimensional.

Someone else started repairing this, and the placement of the molded replacement was far out of alignment, making it much too noticeable. First I had do chop this out.

Earlier repair attempt did not quite fit.

Fortunately, they did make a flexible mold and got it to me, so I was able to cast new sections, but due to the problems of thickness/thinness, it took three castings before I was able to get one that was satisfactory.

The thickness of the castings meant they had to dry overnight, so it took a few days just to get things that far.After installation, additional carving was needed to bring things into alignment with adjacent areas.

After several molding attempts, new casts are installed.

As is often the case with this type of frame, only highlights (in this example, the blossoms) were water gilded. The rest was done with bronze powder.

After the usual process of fitting the sections, applying gesso and clay, The owner wants it today, so I was up late putting on clay, and very early this morning to gild.

Gilding clay applied
Gilding and burnishing

After gilding and burnishing these blossoms, he rest of the job entails the fussy aspect of matching new sections to the coloring of the original. This involves a number of steps and materials, complicated by the fact that due to deadline, I don't have the luxury of anything requiring a long dry time.

Coloring and toning begins.

This is not the first time I've had a repair job like this where missing pieces were discarded. What was a time-consuming process could have been avoided (or at least shortened) if the original pieces were present.

Finishing the toning to match replacements to rest of frame

Friday, January 8, 2016

Holy Gilding Batman!

FInished Frame for "The Watchers"

A few weeks ago I posted about the "Accidental Frame" that was made when I really needed a frame for this artwork. The work is an etching titled "The Watchers". I had a frame of this type in mind when the print was purchased several years ago, but since it was not a customer project, it was at the bottom of the priority list.

Making the "accidental" frame was a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to work out the design details, and the changes for this one made it even more effective than I originally planned. Practice makes perfect!

Leafing design elements in process

Leafed design elements completed

Fish motif

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Acrylic Reverse Glass Painting

"Cottage" Acrylic Reverse Glass Painting (pardon my reflection)

I was asked about demonstrating reverse glass painting for a group of teachers as part of their "development days". I was cool to the idea, since the use of oil paint and solvents (not to mention glass) did not make this suitable for the elementary school classroom. Since traditional methods were out, It was suggested that I try it with acrylic paint on acrylic sheet, instead of glass. So, on this first snowy day of the season, I tried this.

The design is based on a typical cottage/river scene, found on many country mirrors. As this was a test, I didn't bother with my usual step of scanning and reversing the original to use as a pattern. I simply placed my acrylic sheet over the original and did the basic outlining with a liquid (rather than heavy body) acrylic, mixed with blending/retardant medium.

I followed the basic steps of reverse glass - outline, glazes for shadow areas, foreground, then sky.

Outlining basic design

Adding glazes to shadow areas

More glazing and color

The back side never looks too good

Some differences (aside from the thrill of completing a reverse glass panel over a couple hours instead of days!):

While you can achieve the transparency via the use of medium, it does not seem to flow onto the "glass" as smoothly when using oil/varnish on glass.

As is the case with my easel painting, the acrylic, even with the medium, still seems to get "gummy", making smooth blends and transitions more difficult.

My other difficulties were due to the use of whatever paints and brushes I had on hand - I wasn't using my traditional palette, and did not have many brushes that were as flexible as I would like. You definitely can't get good results with typical stiff painting brushes.

I suspect that some of these issues could be overcome with more experimentation, and for this test, I was not as painstaking as I normally am.
Finished glass with original

Still, this might be a good option for when you want to teach in an environment when solvent based materials are not allowed.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Accidental Frame

In the interest of efficiency, when I have things of my own to frame I may wait to  cut and join the wood frame when I have several to do, even though I may not finish gilding/painting for some time. Sometimes a real long time.

Frame with gold leaf details

In this case, I had an etching purchased several years ago, the frame was cut, and was even gilded and painted. I knew I would include some other design work, but hadn't come to final decisions. In a burst of "let's get some of these unfinished projects out of the way", I added gold leaf design work to the panel of the frame (a "faux sgraffitto" technique).

Since, as with the frames, I often get the mats cut ahead of time, and along with the art work, put them away for safe keeping, I next had to retrieve the art and mat. Amazingly, it was, for once, where I thought it would be. But when I went to assemble the package, something was off. A lot off. the art and mat were for an 8 x 10 frame, and my newly finished frame was 11 x 14.

I know that I sometimes mess up measurements, but this was bad, even for me. I went looking through the other unfinished projects, and found a frame the correct size. In fact, it was even noted on the back that it was meant for the etching.

But, as luck would have it, I did have a painting of mine that fit, and, was much better for the new frame than the one it was in before.

"Power Psychic" oil on canvas by Joseph Rice

Now I just have to finish the other frame. Maybe next year.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Restoration of a 19th Century Frame

One of my regular clients brought in this 19 century frame. Typical of the period, it had varying styles of composition ornament, with the topmost a running garland of leaves. The surface seems to have been a combination of gold leaf in prominent areas, with the rest finished with bronze powder. 

Frame in un-restored condition.

 As these frames aged and dried out, the composition ornament would crack and come loose. There was one significant loss on the top border, and smaller numerous losses to the cove ornament. There had been some old repairs and bronze paint.

Mold and castings.

After re-adhering all the loose sections, I made molds and casts for the replacements. Fitting them in is always tedious, and requires making extras in case of breakage.

Fitting in the replacements.

Finally, gilding and toning to match the coloring and patina of the rest of the frame.

Finished frame.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Plein Air in Phillipston, Massachusetts

So New England!
 We are still in "foliage season" here in New England, but it is getting colder, and we must make the most of it while it lasts.

One of the artists groups invited painters to her family's apple farm in Phillipston, MA. Quintessential New England - apple trees, barns, mountain views - as well has home made soup and apple crisp for lunch!

Lots of photos, some watercolor studies for working up later, and cold, tired feet. A good day.

Hundred mile views from the hilltop

Orange leaves, and still some bright red apples hanging on the tree.

Back side of the neat and tidy barn shown above.
I always seem to go for the "not as pretty" subject matter

My rendition of the old truck. The apple fell on the hood as if meant for me to paint this.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Fall Still-Life Paintings

I did two watercolor still-life paintings for a change. One was inspired by looking at Andrew Wyeth's paintings on a visit to the Farnsworth Museum in Rockland, Maine (even if he was still alive, I don't think he'd be worried about competition from me). The other was of a group of accidental squash (i.e., appearing out of the compost pile from seeds that must have been tossed out). I know there were green acorn squash seeds in the compost, but I don't know where the white one came from.

Both of these are in my grain-painted frames.

Odd Squash

Apple at Rest