Sunday, June 27, 2010

Block and Tackle

The unistrut channels are now bolted into the ceiling and onto the walls, and the block and tackle is set up and ready to roll. It took a bit of work to figure out the best method to lift and move the panel, but luckily our friend Commodore David Anson of New Zealand was in town. Barry immediately put our navy boy to work. He set about designing a S.O.P. (Standard Operating Procedure). I'm very comfortable with lifting and moving the panel with very little effort.

The first photo above shows how the roller piece fits into the ceiling channel. Attached to the roller is the upper end of the block and tackle. The lower photo shows the second piece which is hooked onto a bolt screwed into the top of the panel. The blocks are called 'fiddlehead blocks'. One of the blocks would have a cam cleat. Typical brands would be Harken, Lewmar or Ronstan. You can find them at a Marine supply store.

This is me taking the panel for a walk across the studio. The commodore is enjoying a much-deserved beer. You can't see the hardware because the beam is in the way, but the line that I'm holding is attached to the block and tackle, and with a little bit of pressure, I am able to push the panel, allowing it to glide across the ceiling. We've attached handles to the sides of the panel so that when the wax and paint is applied I won't be touching the surface of the painting.

Commodore David demonstrates how to carefully lower the panel onto the horizontal work surface. The first few times we tried this, I was nervous and held my hand out to ensure the panel didn't fall too heavily. But now, I can raise and lower the panel without touching it. The locking mechanism and the cleat attached to the wall gives me the right leverage to ensure a safe and gentle landing.
I'm not sure if I'm raising or lowering the panel in this shot, but it's a good angle to see the lower mechanism attached to the door, and the upper in the ceiling channel. The line I'm holding wraps around a cleat attached to the beam above. This gives me better leverage for pulling the line to raise or lower the panel. My husband designed a special extension tool to make it easier for me to lock and unlock the line from the upper mechanism. (I'll post a photo of this in my next update). When unlocked, the panel can travel across the ceiling channel, and when locked, the panel is secure, allowing me to slowly let the line out to raise or lower the panel.

I still need to show you the wall unit that holds the panel vertically. We had to order some stronger brackets, so the vertical unit isn't functional yet. I'll post an update when its ready.

In the meantime, the panel is on the workbench, I've prepared the surface and am getting ready to apply my first layers of clear wax.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Heavy Lifting

sketch of constructed panel by Matthew Olds.
I love painting large, so when I was contacted by Erik Bennion at Patricia Rovzar Gallery for a commission of a 54" x 70" encaustic work for a private collector, I jumped at the opportunity.

Encaustic requires a good firm substrate that won't twist, warp or split under the heavy weight of the applied layers of wax. I've been using hollow-core doors for my large pieces. They are strong, lightweight, and I can cut them down to just about any size. Unfortunately, the largest panel comes in just 48" width, and a custom order from my millwork supplier came to a whopping $2500.

So, I contacted the talented and able Matthew Olds from HOLD Studios. Matthew is an artist who supplements his income through canvas and panel construction for other artists in the Seattle area. He designed a panel that would fit my needs (see sketch above), my architect-husband Barry made a couple of tweaks to the structure, and within 2-weeks I had a good solid substrate delivered direct to the studio, ready to paint for just over $300.

panel under construction at Hold Studios on Vashon Island

We decided it would be best to use 3" deep bracing, and we added a panel to the back side to help prevent torsional warp. It's strong and sturdy. And HEAVY. Weight without wax comes in around 50 pounds.

For these large pieces, I need to work both horizontal and vertical, but I was afraid I'd destroy everything in the studio, including my back, trying to navigate the heavy panel around the studio. So, Barry has been enlisted yet again to design and install a block and tackle system with a pulley across the ceiling. If all goes according to plan, I'll be waxing and painting to my hearts content within the week.

I'll be sure to post updates of the system, so keep checking back to see how we progress. Wish us luck!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Three Small Encaustic Paintings

These paintings begin as studies for larger paintings. Sometimes they just seem to want to stay small, sometimes I'll take them larger-scale, and sometimes I'll paint over them and come up with something entirely different.

"Path" (above) is currently on the boards to be scaled up into a large painting. The study seemed sweet, so I bolted it onto another textured wax background.

The image on this panel is only 4" x 4", mounted to a 9" x 12" panel that has an old study of intertwining branches beneath the surface. I enjoy the look and feel of these textured backgrounds, and am considering doing something a little more abstract, where the background becomes the object itself.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Anne Siems Animation

... between the lines a dream is hiding ... from Robert Campbell on Vimeo.

Animation of paintings by Seattle artist Anne Siems. Voices: Eva Grace Siems Eggert, Ulrike Siems, Jacques Koekoek

Anne Siems is one of my favorite Northwest artists. She never appears afraid to adventure into new territory with her work. I love the way this animation by Robert Campbell takes her paintings, reinvents it, and presents it to me in an entirely new light. Makes me want one of her paintings even more.