Friday, December 10, 2010


 Or: What should I paint on, and how on earth am I going to get it there?

After much experimentation, here’s the system I’ve settled on:

Illustration items, clockwise, starting with Canvas Carrier
Wet Panel Carrier by Raymar
Stack of prepared canvas clipped to cardboard with binder's clips
Set of 18 x 24 Stretchers
Canvas Tube
Thumb Tacks
Painter's tape for marking off panel
cardboard template for 6 x 8 size
Prepared canvas with 6 x 8 picture size taped

Frederix canvas pad... a quick way to get standard sized canvases for travel
And in the center, a canvas from a roll, prepared for 18 x 24 painting

I take stacks of canvas sheets in a variety of sizes. I prepare my canvas sheets ahead of time with a coating of Gamblin Oil Painting Ground, in a tone of medium-valued gray. (Complete directions for this in part 2.) Each piece of canvas is big enough for margins all around in case I like the painting enough to stretch it later. Occasionally, I will paint to the edges of the canvas, and later mount it on a panel.
Typically, I pack canvases in 9 x 12 (for 6 x 8 paintings) , 12 x 16 (for 9 x 12 paintings) 16 x 20 ( for 12 x 16 paintings), and 22 x 28 (for 18 x 24 paintings). I pack at least one 9 x 12 per day, and one per day of some other size.   If I'm going to be painting a lot, I pack more.

The smaller sizes, I pack in stacks clipped to cardboard. I will carry two cardboard pieces for each size. The larger canvases I roll up and pack in a tube. I carry one set of stretcher bars for each size of these, plus thumbtacks for temporary stretching. This setup allows me a variety of sizes of paintings, with minimum packing space and weight. I will bring along a small wet panel carrier for my last two days’ paintings (generally small paintings) , which may not be dry when I pack them to come home.

Many painters prefer to travel with prepared panels. These may be wood panels, or canvas glued to a wood panel. Another option is to carry stretched canvas. Another option is to buy painting surfaces at your destination.

If you’re joining me for the Maui Painting Retreat, pack about 4 practice pages or panels per day.

Summary of support considerations:
Expense: The least expensive are canvas sheets, then stretched canvas, then panels. If you prepare your own panels, you can cut the expense considerably.
Bulk: The least bulky to pack are canvas sheets, then panels, then stretched canvas.
Weight: Lightest are canvas sheets. Panels and stretched canvas are about even.
Drying speed: Paintings on panels will dry slightly more slowly than canvas sheets or stretched canvas.
Convenience for hanging to dry: Canvas sheets can be easily hung in a hotel room from glass surfaces using Command Adhesive, particularly if you leave margins for later stretching. Panels can be hung this way, but with less confidence because the wet surface stretches all the way to the edge. Stretched canvases are best hung from a pin or nail, or from a hook placed on Command Adhesive.
Transporting home when dry: Paintings on canvas sheets can be packed flat, stacked with waxed paper between them, or rolled up. Larger size stretched canvases or panels would require an extra-large suitcase. Panels are easy to transport in a wet panel carrier, and canvas sheets attached to cardboard are equally convenient to transport this way.

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