Saturday, April 13, 2013

How to Mount an Oil Sketch

I do oil sketches sometimes on unstretched canvas or canvas paper from a pad. Since quick oil sketches can be sketchy with their success rate, it's an inexpensive solution. Of course, if you have to mat and frame them under glass, there go any savings you may have had.

But what to do with the successful ones you'd like to frame? I mount them on acid-free foam core so that I can varnish, and frame like any other painting on a panel.

What you need:

~A sketch you think worthy of framing, (the hard part)
~A clean flat space to work on (also a challenge in a busy studio, this table is in the thinking corner of my studio, and I keep a clean sheet around for projects like this)
~Acid-free foam core, about 1 inch larger than your piece
~Old but clean piece mat board or foam core larger than your painting (I used the back of an old canvas board)
~An extra piece of mat board or foam core larger than your piece
~An Exacto knife
~Rubber brayer
~Drafting brush or clean Swiffer
~Lineco pH Neutral PVA Glue
~Heavy books
~Old paint brush
~Dartek Plastic Film, Glassine or sheet clean plastic
~Self healing mat or cardboard to cut your foam core on
Click Read More below to see the directions.

Cut the sketch to size. Take into consideration the area that will be covered when framed. Generally, that will be at least a 1/4 inch all around.
Turn the sketch upside down on the clean spare piece of cardboard. (I've used the back of an old canvas board. (I haven't painted on these for 20 years) Apply the Lineco pH Neutral PVA Glue.

Spread it around in a thin coat with the yucky brush. I think a stiff flat or filbert works well for this. The bigger the piece the bigger brush I'd use. (note the paint under my thumbnail, that means it was a good day :)

You may have to add more, but it's better to do that than to start with way too much. (dual wielding not a necessity unless you are also the photo documentarian :)

 The canvas will be all curly and weird looking as the glue soaks in. Don't panic.

Turn the sketch over, position it in the middle of a piece of acid-free foam core that you have cut 1 inch larger than your sketch.

Cover it with a piece of clean plastic film. I happen to have in my studio Dartek Film, which I use for wrapping paintings when shipping them. It's a plastic that doesn't stick to paintings and is used for wrapping them for archival storage in museums. For this purpose, it is overkill. A piece of glassine, tracing paper, or clear plastic would suffice.

Roll over the plastic covered sketch with the brayer, working from the center out, making sure there are no air bubbles and that it is completely flat.
When you are happily convinced it's flat, recover it with film and a clean piece of mat board or foam core and stack some large heavy inspiration or old tomes. (I knew that History of Modern Art book was good for something. Top with a little Waterhouse for inspiration.)
Allow to dry overnight.

Cut off the excess foam core. (Sorry I forgot to shoot the figure sketch but here is an in-progress shot of a still life being cut down to size)

Varnish as you would any other painting. Pick out a killer frame, hang the piece and hope the Red Dot Fairy shows up!

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