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Christmas has come early!

So things have been pretty busy around here this week. I’ve ordered a lot of materials lately, and there’s been a steady stream of parcels turning up on my doorstep! I’m super thrilled with what I’ve managed to score, and very keen to go into studio lock-down this weekend. This is a snippet of what’s arrived so far. 

Art Spectrum oil paints
Two sellers on ebay were auctioning off bulk lots of Art Spectrum oils – all in full 150ml tubes, and quite a few exxy series 3 and 4 colours! I ended up spending about a third of what I’d budgeted for oils, meaning I could redirect the remaining funds towards other much needed tools and materials. 

     

Portable projector
I’ve been struggling along with this cumbersome old overhead projector, to help speed up the transfer of layouts onto my canvases. Though it’s wonderfully bright, it’s very awkward to move and adjust, plus the cost of inkjet transparencies was getting quite prohibitive and inhibiting the degree to which I could experiment freely with my ideas. I also have been dreaming of photographing portrait and still-life references with images/text/patterns projected over the subjects, and so I thought a proper little digital projector would be the way to go, if I could find something affordable.

I stumbled across this little beauty just when I was starting to feel that everything was either way out of my price range, or way too cheap and shoddy to be a worthwhile investment. It’s super compact, has plenty of input options (although no bluetooth/wifi), projects at any angle (walls or ceiling!) and can even be popped on top of a tripod. The image and sound have really surpassed my expectations, and now I’m thinking that I may be able to use it for projection work in a gallery setting – similar to something I saw at the Bendigo Art Gallery in October. 

Easel of my dreams!
Another purchase resulting from the savings I made on oils is this absolute beauty of an easel. It’s double masted, goes completely vertical or horizontal, and can hold canvases up to a whopping 2.4m! Now I might not get around to painting something that big for the solo exhibition, but I’ve definitely got some canvases in the 1.2 to 1.4m range, which really don’t fit on either of my old easels. I found that my cheap old A-frame easel will just stretch to hold a 1.2m canvas, but wobbles like crazy as soon as I try to paint anything towards the edges. I’ve also got mum’s lovely old studio easel, which she recently gifted to me after getting dad to fix it up. It’s gorgeous and very sturdy, but won’t hold anything over a metre tall. 

I managed to assemble the new easel after spending about 2 hours late at night, deciphering the tiny ikea-style picture instructions. After a big mug of tea and not too many frustrations, I was pretty impressed with the end result. I’m super keen to get stuck into painting something this weekend, so here’s a photo of it before it inevitably gets covered in paint!

Painting consumables
I’ve been reading up on varnishing oil paintings – something I have never done, but will be tackling for this project. After getting worried that my works won’t have enough time to fully cure, I stumbled across some information about Gamvar – which can apparently be applied to oils as soon as they are touch-dry. Seeming like a brilliant solution I’ve ordered some Gamvar gloss, cold wax medium (which can also be buffed straight on as a matte varnish or mixed with Gamvar to achieve different sheen levels) and Gamsol (completely odourless solvent).

Framing – tools, samples and prototypes
One of the other major costs accounted for in my budgeting for this project is the cost of framing my works for display, and though I’m a long way off having a complete body of work for the show I thought I’d better do some legwork to save me time later on, as the deadlines approach. 

I’m really keen to present my canvases in float frames, if time and budget allow it. Float frames are a simple way of finishing off the works, but will really give a high-end professional result if done correctly and will help in making the body of work look more cohesive when everything is hanging on the gallery walls. Josh and I are both quite handy at woodwork, so if all goes to plan we may be able to knock up the canvas float frames ourselves. That way, if I have works on paper to be framed behind glass I may be able to budget for getting those done by a professional. 

I’ve been scoping out potential suppliers of float frame moulding, and have a couple of promising leads. I’m waiting on a few samples to get sent out this week – fingers crossed they’re of a good quality. 

In the meantime, I spent Saturday afternoon building a prototype timber frame for one of my 40mm deep canvases, using lengths of pine from the hardware store, and a few basic framing tools, to create my own L-shaped frame moulding. I’ll pop some images below, and write up a tutorial on my process tomorrow. I’m super thrilled with the result, especially given it was a 36 degrees outside – much too hot to be using power tools in an old tin shed! I’d originally planned to stick with plain black mouldings, but I’m loving the timber finish on the prototype so I’ll see how it turns out with a coat of varnish. 

     

Picture railing!
We finally got around to installing the secondhand picture railing in the hallway of our house! I was a very efficient helper, passing things up the ladder, and thanks to Josh’s brilliant handyman skills the railings were up in no time at all. I’ve already used up every single hook, hanging my primed canvases up off the floor. This is going to be a great space saver in the coming months – I can work on multiple pieces at once, and hang them all up on the walls to dry, keeping valuable floor-space clear. 

     

New Studio
The purchase of our 5 acre mini-farm come art-studio isn’t progressing as quickly as our eager selves would like, but I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed for some progress before the Christmas holidays roll around. It would be fab to get possession in time to make use of the old house as a proper studio space- but whatever will be will be, and I’m just going to make do with my current space (or lack of) in the meantime!

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