Wednesday, September 19, 2018

AlumaCorp Support Preparation

I've recently been experimenting with AlumaCorp aluminum painting panels. The ones I've bought have been unprimed so I thought I'd let you know what I do to prepare them for painting with oil.

I might note that the main objective in my experimenting thus far was to make the panel durable while still enabling the aluminum background to show.  Otherwise, the panels don't have to be primed.  You can see the results of the first attempt of painting on a panel primed with this method with the little hummingbird I posted HERE.

Here is the panel as I received it and the process I followed for the hummingbird panel as well as another painting which I'll show in a moment:

If you click on the photos above to enlarge, you'll see some information about the panel and that the panels have some very sharp edges!  I have not received any panel that did not need these edges filed off for safety's sake!

So, the first step is remove the protective paper on the side you want to use then take a file or some sandpaper and file or sand the edges only.  You don't want to mess up the actual surface of the panel by careless sanding.  Fortunately, it only takes a couple of swipes to blunt the edges.  This step is crucial to help save both skin and brushes!

 You may need to scuff the surface of the panel just a little to insure adhesion of your primer.  Some steel wool is probably all you'll need but be gentle with it!

After scuffing the surface, clean well with alcohol to remove any grease or fingerprints and handle the panel carefully from now on.

If you want the aluminum finish to show through your painting, I recommend Golden's GAC 100 which is a clear sealer medium for many surfaces.  I used 2 coats letting it dry thoroughly between coats.  I also used a roller and rolled the medium on in one direction (say, vertically), let dry, then rolled the second coat at right angles (horizontally).

After priming, let the panel dry for several days as per directions on the GAC 100 container.

I had fun painting the hummingbird and like the AlumaCorp panels a lot.  However, I wanted to see how the different mediums I use behaved on the panels.

This unfinished painting is an AlumaCorp panel prepared as I explained above but I used Genesis Heat Set oils on it and I don't think the panel is a good choice for these paints. 

The panels are very thin pieces of aluminum sandwiched between some kind of foamcore.  While I'm sure the aluminum can take the heat needed for the Genesis paints, the foam doesn't do so well with it.  The panel warped with the first heating and smelled awful!  Not only that, the paint crackled.  If you click on the photo to enlarge, you should be able to see what I mean by looking at the ears.

At this point, I decided to just quit working on this particular painting.  I'm sure the warping and smell was due to the foamcore center of the panel.  I'm not sure whether the crackling was due to the heat, the GAC 100 or the fact that the panel warped. 

One other thing I've found is that the glare from the aluminum makes it very difficult to see the overall painting as you work.  I was working during hurricane Florence when the days were very gloomy.  I had studio lights on with daylight bulbs and it could be that those lights weren't aimed in a way conducive to painting on the aluminum.  They didn't shine directly on the surface but whatever the cause, I found this painting very hard to see because of the glare and reflecting of the surface.

These are just my thoughts on using the panels so far.  I like a solid surface and don't like the bounce of most canvas so these panels are great for that.  I think in the future I'll either buy preprimed panels or use a colored gesso to prime and won't even try to use the bare metal as part of the painting.  I have heard that some artists scratch through the paint and primer to reveal the metal as accents in the painting and that might be a experiment for a future painting.

As to whether I use these panels on a regular basis, it will be based on cost comparisons with other supports, particularly birch or hardboard.  Since I've just gotten small samples at minimal cost to date, I'll do the comparisons when I need supports for larger paintings at a later date.

If you have any questions, I'll try to answer if you leave me a comment below!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


crow in watercolor on Fluid hot-pressed paper - copyright Jan Gibson

Crows really intrigue  me and I find them very inventive and smart as well as numerous around here!  I've been painting them in different poses and think I've begun to build my mental muscle memory so it's a bit easier to paint them now.

However, I recently got an order which included some Fluid brand watercolor samples which I used for the above crow.  Huge mistake as I fought the paper the whole time.

Hot-pressed watercolor paper is my usual when I use watercolors but this brand did not perform like any other I've used.  I did try some colored pencil on it and it seemed to work well for that.  Too bad I donated all my quality colored pencils to our local high school!  But, good thing I only got 3 sheets of the paper to try!

And here is another watercolor crow:

crow in watercolor on Arches cold-pressed watercolor paper - copyright Jan Gibson
This crow was painted before the first one and was a fun learning experience.  However, I decided the background was too intense and tried to soften it a bit and ruined the painting!  I think the 'bones' of the painting work though and may eventually repaint it with gouache.

Or maybe not as I usually don't like to mess with a painting once I've done it once!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Hummingbird on AlumaComp Painting Panel

About this time last year I got some samples of AlumaComp aluminum painting panels at the Jerry's Artarama 'Art of the Carolinas' trade show.    I didn't quite know what to do with them at the time so I've only recently started painting on them.

First I tried using casein with Liquitex clear gesso.  I couldn't finish the painting.  I'm not sure whether it was the casein or the Liquitex gesso as I'm not fond of either!

I did want to paint so the aluminum background would show so I recently read that Golden's GAC 100 would work as a clear surface treatment.  As you can see in the following photo, it's perfect for preserving the look of the aluminum background.

Here is a painting of one of our little hummingbirds in the early morning light waiting for its turn at the nectar feeder.

Alkyd Oil on Aluminum Panel - 6x8 inches

I really like this panel when used with oil paint but I think the metallic background is a bit less effective with these hummingbird colors.  This is a female Ruby Throated hummingbird although the lighting makes it look like another species.  Also, she was all fluffed up while you usually see the birds with their feathers all neatly sleeked back and groomed.

Art of the Carolinas is coming up again in November and I may just have to get some more of these panels or mail order even sooner!  It's so nice when a new support (& new toy) works as well as you'd hoped!

Monday, August 13, 2018

High Seas And Ground Clutter

I've been really trying to be disciplined and paint every day but in spite of the best intentions, it doesn't always happen.

But I've made tiny inroads for the past week or so and painted a seascape for my niece and a basket of tomatoes from our garden.

The seascape is acrylic on board and the basket of tomatoes (I call it Basket of Summer) is gouache on Arches watercolor paper. 

The basket of tomatoes was for a challenge at an art group I belong to and isn't as finished as I'd like.  I hope to paint it again in the future though.

I'm still plugging away at an oil painting of a fox and another seascape so look for updates in the near future!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Ain't It Funny How Time Just Slips Away

I was jolted out of complacency when my friend, Sue, from the Pencilpix blog emailed to ask if I'd been painting.  Well, I've done nothing but for the past few months but just haven't shown any on my blog!  Sue recommended that I remedy that so here are just a few of the paintings I've done recently:

The first one is a quick painting of my Dad who said he didn't want a birthday gift but would really like one of my wildlife cards.  Well, I figured there wasn't anything wilder than him even at the age of 95!  He was very pleased even if line and wash & especially portraits aren't my usual 'thing'.

The second two paintings are for challenges at a painting forum I belong to.  I was especially pleased with the ice cream cone as I usually have a hard time drawing hands/fingers but this came out better than usual.
 This bear is a painting I've worked on for nearly a year!  The medium is casein and even though I've really tried to like it, it's impossible for me to work with.  This painting was such a struggle that when I finished it, I bundled up the casein paints and donated them to our local high school art department!
 This crow is an acrylic underpainting that I did with the intention of glazing with oil over the top.  However, I had a bunch of people tell me to leave it alone.  There were two exceptions to this chorus though, including my husband and an oil painter whose opinion I value so I haven't totally decided what to do with it yet.

If you're a painter yourself, you know the inner argument where part of you wants to be done with it and another part of you wants to go with the original plan but worry about messing up what might be a good thing!
This last one of the eagle is a horrible photo as it was taken with my cell phone in really gloomy light as we've had rain during most of the month of July!!!  Suffice it to say it looks better in person.  It's gouache on board.

These are not all of the paintings I've done and I'm still working on several at the moment.  One, a fox, another crow and a couple of seascapes.  One of the seascapes is nearly finished but since this post is image intensive, I'll save some for another day!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Oh, Look, Another Bird!

I finished another bird in the woodcarving group and like this one a whole lot better than the first one I carved.  This one was sort of my own design although from a free vector from a public domain photo site I occasionally use.  I still have to put some sort of finish on it but I decided not to paint it.  If I wanted a painted bird, I'd do it on paper or canvas, right?

I think that's it for birds, at least for the time being.  One of these days, I'd like to carve a sandpiper, heron or egret but in the meantime, I have a fox on-board for the next project.  It's quite a bit larger than either of the birds (about 18" long) so wish me success!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Chickadee Painting Demo

Where does the time go?  Again, I apologize for the time between blog posts but somehow, time just gets away!  As kids, we'd used to complain that we were bored or had nothing to do and the day would just drag by.  My grandmother always used to say 'just wait til you get older!'  My grandmother was a very wise woman!

Anyway, the demo/paint-along of the chickadee went really well and the class actually finished in an hour instead of the two we thought it would take.  Here is a photo of the event and, as you can see, the participants were lively, fun and very good for first time painters!  Oh, that's me in the back row next to the gentleman in the light blue shirt.

photo courtesy of, and copyright to, Alan Russo
All of the participants were great sports and all said they'd had a good time.  Since we had some time leftover, I was asked to demonstrate how to make a tree with some leaves.  We were using cheap Canson watercolor paper and really cheap gouache but those who painted the tree still did really well.

Even though I was very nervous and sort of scared, the COA still asked me if I would do another demo and/or paint-along in the future.  I wasn't sure but think it would be fun now that I know the ropes a bit better!