A lot of paperwork, snow shoveling, and non-illustration things have been eating my time of late. While not doing a lot of painting, I'm winding up to the next couple pieces, which means a bit of surface prep. What that means for me is taking a piece of 90 pound, hot press watercolor paper, and printing a sketch on it. Then I wet the paper and, using acrylic matte medium, paste the paper to a piece of masonite or hardboard. Next, I use a brayer to push out the excess matte medium, and let it dry. This is followed by 3 coats of matte medium over the sketch's surface, letting it dry completely between each layer. Finally, after the last coat is dry, I use a fine sandpaper to smooth the surface and finish it off with an even finer Scotch-Brite pad. All in all, total prep time can take the better part of a day, depending on how warm it is in the house, as drying time can be greatly affected.
I learned to do this from both Donato and Todd Lockwood's descriptions on their respective websites. I'm sure I do little things here and there differently, but the overall effect is the same. I'm not sure where they learned it, but it's been my preferred way of doing things for a few years now. The end result is a nice, relatively smooth surface with little or no texture that I find to be easy to work on. But that's just me. And I guess Todd and Donato. And everyone else I know who does something similar.
The smoothness is important to me because I have grown to dislike the texture of canvas for some reason. While I've painted on canvas many, many times in the past, I've always found the texture to be a bit distracting under certain circumstances. Admittedly, I'm a little weird and particular about things, but I feel it's important to really like the surface you work on, no matter what it is. If you hate it, you'll be working against it the entire time, which makes for a terrible experience.
Anyway, the good news is that the prep process is not all that labor intensive. The bad news is that I can never really get into a good working rhythm doing something on the side because I'm constantly having to stop and turn my attention to the painting surfaces to slap a coat of matte medium down or some such. So, surface prep days are often less than productive for me outside of the surface prep itself. Such is life, I suppose.
On a completely unrelated note, there are eight days until Spectrum entries are due. If you're even remotely considering submitting something, I highly recommend it. As far as things like this go, it's pretty inexpensive, and the cost of submission is a write-off, so there's that. If you get in, it can be a nice ego boost. I'm not saying that getting in will solve all of life's problems (in fact it won't), but like the lottery, you have to enter something to even have a chance to begin with.
A shorter entry today, I know. Probably a blessing for everyone's tired eyes. If there happens to be something you're curious about, or a question you want answered, feel free to post something in the space below. There's an excellent chance that someone reading this will have a question that I won't think of on my own.
Well, I'm off to slap some matte medium down...