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Do’s & Don’ts of Framing with Liz Seward

Friday 1st July 2022

Liz Seward has been a member of Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts since 1979.  She is now the President of the Society and as she looked around the room, which was well attended, she recognised a lot of familiar faces.  At the same time, there were a few new members and there is no doubt that whether old or new, by the end of the evening everyone was better informed about how and why to frame.

Canvas Pictures can be exhibited in a variety of different media, canvas oils or acrylics, watercolour paintings, pastel, and pencil artwork.  There is a wide variety of frames available on the internet or from frame shops.  It is always possible to get artwork framed professionally, but this is expensive, and so many artists frame their own work.

Liz holding a painting (on its side) to show the edging that was used instead of a full frame.

Liz began by talking about canvases.   Remember, the smaller the canvas the larger and wider the frame should be.  The bigger the canvas the narrower the frame can be.Here she is holding a relatively large, thin canvas that has been edged with batons.

Liz uses Peter Turner at Farnborough Gallery to make her frames and she would certainly recommend him.

Box canvases can be unframed but the painting should continue around all of the sides if these are left unframed.

D-rings attached to the backing board of pencil painting. Brown gum strip is not over the frame as this is not a watercolour.

Paintings can become damaged when they are being exhibited.  One of the main culprits for doing this damage is screw-eyes.  It is best to always use D-rings as they do not stand out as much.  In fact, Liz showed one painting where the D-rings were screwed into the backing board rather than edge of the frame which meant they were inset.  Some London galleries insist that metal fixtures are covered when paintings are presented for exhibition. 

(NB from Chairman, Peter Tuitt – If cutting or drilling MDF board remember to always wear a mask to prevent MDF dust from entering your lungs.)

Pencil painting in a lime wood frame.

Liz showed us a painting that was done in coloured pencil.  Colour pencil should be framed with a backing board.  The picture should be framed with a bevelled edge.  In this instance the brown sticking paper does not have to be up over the edge of the frame at the back because pencil is a dry medium.

Terminology can be confusing as different words are used for the same thing. An example of this is tray frames which can be used to frame thin canvases.  Tray frames are also known as floater frames and can be used for both canvas and canvas board.  The artwork is loaded at the front of the frame and attached as though it is floating within the frame.  The big advantage of this kind of frame is that it does not have glass.

Here is a link to Jackson’s Framing that provides a Glossary of terms which some may find useful: http://www.jacksonsframing.co.uk/glossary.html

Demonstrating a framing staple gun to attach a painting to a tray frame.

Liz showed everyone a framer’s gun which she uses.  It is like a staple gun but with side loading staples.  She also demonstrated how easily these can be removed if the frame is going to be used again for a different painting. 

(Note the D-rings and the chord for hanging the painting are attached to the frame itself.  The painting has been inset and stapled.)

This acrylic ink painting by Liz has a wood frame and double mount

Liz showed us this painting which was done with acrylic inks.   Liz has used a wood frame for this painting.  One advantage of wood is that it stands up to exhibition conditions well.  Ash frames are hard and do not get easily scratched unlike gold frames which are very vulnerable to knocks and scratches.

Watercolours 

Watercolour paintings need to be carefully framed and sealed so that they cannot be invaded by thunder flies or moisture.  They can be vulnerable to changes in climate.  Do not use masking tape to seal these. It is best to use brown gum strip.  

Watercolours should be mounted which ensures the painting does not touch the glass of the frame.  Liz thinks it is best not to use coloured mounts although a coloured slip or a double mount looks good.   

Assembling a watercolour starts with the backing board, next there is cartridge paper, then the painting in its mount, and finally carefully cleaned glass.  Always double check before sealing the back with the gummed brown paper strips.  Do not use non-reflective glass as this is very fragile and expensive.

The use of frames with Perspex glass has become acceptable as it is so much lighter than glass.  Perspex tends to scratch very easily and there are still some art galleries that insist on glass but FCSA will accept undamaged Perspex at the Annual Exhibition this year.

Liz demonstrating how wide a mount should be on an A4 painting

Mounts for an A4 painting should be 2 ½ – 2 ¾ inches wide.  Marie Bunce asked how wide the mount should be on this painting of hers and Liz demonstrated how effective it is to use pre-cut boarders to see what a painting will look like with different size mounts.

Front and back of paintings prepared for the Portfolio rack in an exhibition

Portfolios

Once again terminology can be confusing.  Portfolios can be referred to as ‘browsers’ but they are essentially unframed paintings.  These are often paintings that have not found a home and remain unsold at the end of an exhibition.

These must be mounted with backing board and covered in cellophane.  Liz buys florist cellophane for large paintings but it is possible to buy standard sizes online.  Do not use clingfilm. This does not work.  It sticks and looks awful.

Large portfolios can be covered with florists’ cellophane.

Portfolios must be labelled on the front and preferably in the middle with the artist’s name, title, medium and price.  They are displayed in a stack in an art display rack.   If they are labelled on the back, in the same way as the ‘Ready-To-Hang’ paintings, the result is that everyone lifts them out of the rack to look at the information.  This leads to the paintings being handled more than is necessary and consequently bent and damaged.

There is no substitute for experience and if ever there was a demonstration of the truth of this statement, this evening was it! Thank you to Liz for all her advice and expertise.

Notes & photos taken by Carole Head.

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Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Photos

The sun shone for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations at Frimley Lodge Park where Frimley & Camberley Society had a gazebo, card stand and table where children could decorate their own crowns. The day was a happy and successful one with sales of three pictures and 18 cards. Below are some photos from the day.

FCSA gazebo with card stand and children’s crown drawing activity manned by Val Painter
The crowns drew an enthusiastic group of young artists
FCSA stand with Val, Patti, Marie & Lesley enjoying the sunny day
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Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee

Frimley Lodge Park, Frimley Green, GU16 6HY

Thursday 2nd June 12-5.30pm

Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts will have a stand at this special event to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in Row C at Stall 40 in the grounds of Frimley Lodge Park.

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THE SURREY HEATH SHOW

Saturday 14th May 2022

Chairman, Peter Tuitt with FCSA Committee & members manning the FCSA stand

It was a glorious sunny day on Saturday 14th May for the Surrey Heath Show this year. For the first time FCSA displayed their paintings on table top stands under two gazebos. This arrangement appears to have worked well. By the end of the day five framed paintings had been sold, one portfolio and 17 cards.

The stand was very well supported by the committee and members of the society who happily chatted to anyone who came to look around and showed an interest in our art.

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Ronnie Ireland ‘Towards Abstraction’ Zoom Demonstration

Friday 8th April 2022

Ronnie Ireland began the Zoom by welcoming us all in and then introducing himself. He is Scottish, born in Glasgow, he went to the Glasgow School of Art. He came to England about 11 years ago and he teaches classes in Guildford and Farnham. In the main he paints people, some animals, landscapes and abstracts too. For more information: https://www.ronnieirelandart.com

This evening Ronnie is going to divide the demonstration into three parts. In the first part he will look at some the large range of paintings that can be covered by the term abstract. In the second part he will look at how to make abstract paintings yourself. Finally, he will get to painting an abstract painting of his own.

Part 1

The word ‘abstract’ means ‘to take from’ and the first series of slides show how Mondrian developed his idea through a series of paintings on the same subject. The first painting in this series is a naturalistic looking tree, the second has become slightly simplified and in the third the branches have been reduced to a shallow curve.

Here the background and tree have become equally important. The whole surface of the painting has become one. Depth and perspective have disappeared.

Mondrian continues to take things further reducing the forms to simple lines and colour. This is taken even further with some of his work where he uses lots of tiny little lines, vertically and horizontally to represent the sea (not shown here).

Mondrian

Here Mondrian has reduced everything to white, black, blue and yellow straight lines and primary colours. These images look very clean and neat but in reality, when seen up close, the paint is actually quite thickly applied.

Mondrian ‘Broadway Boogie-Woogie’

In this painting called ‘Broadway Boogie-Woogie’ the same colours are used. Mondrian painted this in New York. He loved dancing and music and here he was trying to convey the rhythm of the boogie-woogie.

Mondrian was a Theosophist, implying he was searching for harmony in the world. He was painting in the 1930’s!

Kandinsky

The next artist Ronnie Ireland looked at was Kandinsky, showing some of his early paintings. This one of a peasant village is almost fauvist in style with discernible figures and landscape. Kandinsky’s work developed into an abstract form still playing with colour and form.

Kandinsky

Here Kandinsky is using geometric shapes and still playing with colour and inspired by music. During the 1930s everyone was clearly very influenced by Picasso.

In the first series of Mark Rothko paintings above there are figures of people discernible although they are flattened images. His later paintings are abstract very large paintings such as these of three stripes made up of multiple layers of different coloured paint. Towards the end, his work became very dark, almost monochrome.

Another artist looked at during the course of this to illustrate how abstract art developed was Josef Albers, who was important because of his teaching of colour theory. Bridget Riley, whose is known for her ‘Op Art’ created optical art that almost hurts the eye . Her work is always perfectly executed and very accurate. Some of her work is very colourful with varied colour combinations in patterns of lines and waves.

Bridget Riley

In America there was a desire in the 1940s to have paintings that were specific to America rather than influenced by European artists. Jackson Pollock was an American artist in the Abstract Expressionist movement where there was no composition and no perspective. He is well known for his drip paintings which were done by lying the canvas on the floor and painting it while dancing around it. It was intended to represent individualism and freedom and was vaguely reminiscent in a way of Navaho sand paintings.

Jackson Pollock

Some artists work to look at would include Man Ray (photographic abstract) Gerhard Richter (photo realism) , Patrick Heron (almost collage), Peter Lanyon (glider pilot flat aerial landscapes), Ben Nicolson (cubism with no perspective), Barbara Hepworth (St. Ives sculpture).

Contemporary paintings of buildings, landscapes, figures and even still life often share a flattening of perspective. Clearly, abstract art comes in very varied sizes, styles and forms.

Part 2

In this section of the evening Ronnie Ireland looked at how to make a start at doing an abstract painting yourself. Ronnie sees abstract images everywhere and he is never without his camera. This photograph of a brick wall is a good example of the kind of thing he finds interesting.

There are a lot of textures here to make this wall of interest to Ronnie. He looks for the arrangement of geometric shapes, textures such as metal, brick or peeling paint; and lines that are not quite straight.

The following abstract paintings by Ronnie Ireland all came from this brick wall.

Manipulating photographs to focus on a particular area, cropping and rotating the image can all be done very easily on most PCs and many people’s mobile phones as well. Ronnie Ireland recommends duplicating an image several times and then manipulating it until it works for you. Possible subjects are everywhere. Here is an example of how a shadow can create a geometric pattern, or how twigs and lytchen on paving stones might work for other reasons.

Here is another example of how a photograph of a very ordinary scene in the backstreet of a town can be rotated and cropped to create what becomes an interesting composition and possible layout for an abstract painting. The blue door and the yellow line enlarged and turned upside down produced greater potential.

DUPLICATE. ZOOM. ROTATE. CROP.

Recently Ronnie was on a painting day when he saw this wall under a canal bridge. He liked the T-shape and decided that he could develop this along with the interesting textures he could see that made up in the T-shape and the wall surrounding it.

Stage 3

“The secret is in the doing”. This was the point in the evening when Ronnie got out the board he would be painting on for this demonstration. It had already been painted on before so there were areas of old paint and some sand already there. By turning the board around he could see that the area of sand formed a kind of T-shape and so he was going to work with this.

A very good piece of advice is to always have an organised way of using the palette. Ronnie keeps the same system and recommends that you do this too. He uses a plastic box with a lid to keep his acrylics from drying out. He likes certain colours and he organises these the same way each time: light to dark. His advice is to have a specific way that you follow every time – until you find a better one!

Ronnie has chosen to work in acrylic because it is more practical than oil for demonstrations as it enables him to apply multiple layers since acrylics dry fairly quickly. This can also be a problem. He likes to use acrylic painting gel or medium, this can be found in either gloss or matt. He will use the gloss as medium this time because it does not only help to stop the acrylic paint from drying out but the gloss helps it stop looking flat.

Studio acrylic medium gel

Remember water is a solvent which will make the paint weak, by adding the medium it will make the paint stronger which will help it flow and go on easily. Ronnie started by dipping his brush in the medium and then the Prussian blue paint. He applied the paint generously, including over the frame.

The brush Ronnie uses is an inexpensive two inch brush. Best not to use an expensive brush over a textured surface as it will ruin it.

Colour is emotional. Ronnie knows that he wants one side of the painting to be darker than the other. Decisions are important where shape, line and texture is concerned. What kind of edges will there be? Sharp or rough? Will the lines feed into each each other or divide cleanly?

The painting was developing. The titanium white and buff horizontal line and the yellow vertical line added another dimension. Even the method of drawing a straight line has options. Ronnie used a palette knife but if he had wanted a sharp clean line he could have used masking tape. Finally, the trick is to avoid over complicating the image.

The Zoom session was coming to an end. People found they were imagining all kinds of different things in it from seed heads to the twin towers, to a cross for Easter or the blue and yellow for Ukraine. The human brain tends to rationalise forms and an abstract piece of art offers lots of possibilities.

Ronnie said that he would continue to work on the painting and that he would let us have the next stage in a good quality photograph, which is the one above. All the rest of the photos in this write up, with the exception of the photograph of Ronnie himself, have been screen shots. The photo of Ronnie was taken from his website: www.ronnieirelandart.com.

Acrylic on canvas. 64 x 74 cm

Above is a photo that Ronnie has sent to show how his abstract painting has been developing. He has called it “Return”.

Our thanks to him for a very informative, inspiring and encouraging demonstration which will certainly help take FCSA ‘towards abstraction’.

Write up by Carole Head: News Editor

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Eric Watson Pastel Zoom Demo

Friday 18th March 2022

Eric Watson lives and works in Bromsgrove near Birmingham. This evening he was working from his ex-garage that he converted into his little office. His main interest is animal and wildlife art. He left work to be an artist in 1994 but found it was not economic so he returned to combining both work and his art until MG Rover’s fortunes meant he decided to become a full time artist and has been such for the last 16 years. He works mainly in pastels and watercolour pencils as well as graphite pencils and charcoal at times. For more information see: https://www.ericwatsonart.com or https://www.facebook.com/naturethroughart/

Eric always makes a study beforehand. He will start this evening with a sketch which he has made in the middle of a large sheet of Pastelmat paper. He advises artists to work on a larger than the image piece of paper to allow for the flexibility of adapting the painting to create a more pleasing image. In this case he thinks the image will be improved by extending it a little on the right.

Eric is working from a photograph reference. It is important to be careful about copyright and so he recommends Wildlife Reference Photos for Artists where a fee of around £1.80 provides 5 reference photos. https://wildlifereferencephotos.com which ensures there will be no copyright issues.

Eric is going to divide this demonstration into three stages. In the first he will work from the reference and start to develop his initial sketch. In the second stage he will show how he builds up the layers to create the fur and the depth of image. He will use another painting that has developed the image further so that he can demonstrate some of the final touches.

Before he starts Eric likes to get his colours ready. He also often makes a swatch card of these colours before putting them into a tray. This makes it very easy to pick up from wherever he leaves off at a later stage as he has all his colours ready to hand.

Eric is using Stabilo carbothello pastel pencils at this stage. He tends to go for the lights first and he likes to use white. He starts by building the strong light area under the eye. Pastel pencils can be easily built up. It is important to always go with the direction of the animal’s fur.

Eric likes to get the eyes into the painting early on. He puts the white in first and then he goes for the blues. He uses the pastel pencil as a blender.

Eyes have amazing colours in them. He then uses a black Stabilo pencil for the dark while blending the black into the blue. He maintains the highlights as these give the eye its shape.

Eric changed to a later stage in the process as can be seen above. The image on the right is the one he will start to work up. Clearly layers have been constantly added. On the nose he has smudge in some black pastel which will act as an under layer over which he will work some of the brown hair on the nose.

Eric likes to create his own tortillon or blending stump with kitchen roll which he folds carefully to create a good sharp point. Eric was asked how he deals with mistakes. He said mistakes were part of the process but they can be easily corrected, either with a putty rubber or by going over an area with a lighter or darker colour, constantly tweaking until it looks as you want it to.

It can be an idea to use a pencil rather than a pastel as the black pencil will not smudge the lighter colours but once a black pencil has been used it is impossible to put pastel over the polychrome pencil as the pastel just slides off.

Eric decided at the start that he wanted to develop the right side of the picture to give the animal space and to create some light and shade in the background. He hates to see a background that is just one colour so he uses a light green and dark green close to the animals face and even a light yellow to create a sense of light in the background. Once again he blends the colours using his kitchen paper torchillon.

Always remember which way the fur is sitting. Make sure the lines follow the same direction. Sometimes it is easier to turn the image in order to keep the lines working as fur. Eric uses lots of little flicking lines. It is possible to work from light to dark and dark to light. The best advice is not to be frightened. It can be easily changed. Eric uses a putty rubber but he also has a battery operated eraser although this can damage the paper, especially if pastel paper. Pastelmat is stronger but never get it wet so be extremely careful if using fixative.

It is a good idea to be sure to protect your pastel picture by resting your hand on a piece of paper to be sure not to smudge or damage the underlying pastels. Here Eric has returned to the eye to re-enforce the colour and the highlights.

It really is all about building up the layers. Here Eric is using Caran d’Ache Supercolor Watercolor white pencil. Some of the hairs on the chin appear to be going in different directions but Eric works at the main body of the hair first and then finally puts in one or two random ones.

Eric also uses the white watercolour pencil to draw in the whiskers. The whiskers come from the dark areas around the nose. The pure white brings out the whiskers really well. Be sure never to go back to redo one of these hairs as it will not work. Just have confidence and draw each whisker in one stroke.

At times Eric even wets the water colour pencil for the eyes, literally using the pencil as a watercolour but not by dipping it in water, instead just dampening it slightly with his tongue. However, once watercolour or pencil has been used it is impossible to go back over this area with pastel.

The final stage is all about adding little elements such as the texture to the nose. Eric wiggled and waggled the pencil to produce a different effect and even used a colour pencil to give more texture to the darker areas.

Once again Eric stressed that he does not recommend using fixative, especially at the very end as it tends to just dull the colours and in fact it seems to be unnecessary when working on Pastel matte paper https://www.pastelmat.com

These are the materials that Eric used:

Eric was asked how long it might take him to complete a painting like this and he said that if he were to work from 9 am – 4 pm with a few breaks it would probably take him about three days to complete it. Everyone was so enthralled by this demonstration that the time ran away. As he bid everyone a good night Eric said that if there were any questions he would be happy to answer these via his email: wterc@aol.com​

The finished painting

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Meadow Flowers

Friday 4th March 2022

In the studio on Friday members were encouraged to have a go at doing a meadow flower painting. This is the first of the new initiative to offer members some themed topics on a Friday studio evening. Sue Whitehead offered to help the group to develop their ideas by supplying examples of different types of meadow flower paintings.

Below are some of the people who took up the challenge and some of the paintings that resulted.

Thanks to Peter Tuitt for these snapshots that capture the feel of what was an enjoyable and very productive evening and thank you to Sue Whitehead for her lead and inspiration.

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Members’ Critique Report

Friday 25th February 2022

This was the first event in this year’s calendar. Coronavirus has been making face to face meetings difficult. It seemed awfully unfortunate that severe stormy weather last week prevented the society from getting together once again. So, it was heartening to have 14 members attend the Members’ Critique this week. Peter Tuitt and John Stacey ensured that the selection of work that had been brought along was displayed for everyone to enjoy and critique.

The room was fortunate to have FCSA’s new President, Liz Seward, there to give some very informative and insightful observations and suggestions.

One of the first paintings displayed was a landscape. The artist felt it lacked something. Liz suggested that sometimes a very small touch of red paint in a predominantly green painting can make it pop.

Could this little winter scene be helped with a slightly stronger sky perhaps?

At times it might be a question of contemplating different ways of presenting a painting, whether the use of a wider mount might promote the image better or a larger frame perhaps? A small painting will often benefit from a wide mount or a large frame to set it off. Although it was agreed that perhaps this little rustic frame suited the subject matter.

Everyone contemplated this abstract work that one member had brought in. It was interesting the difference that was made by changing it from a portrait to a landscape painting. It was generally thought that the landscape version made the composition became more eye-appealing.

A new member brought in this delightful little painting of a cockapoo. People sympathised with the difficulty of painting curly fur and it was suggested that darkening the back leg would help to give the image more depth.

There were several portraits on display demonstrating different techniques. This one the artist had been keen to try a colourful splatter. It was suggested that using a fan paintbrush produces a very successful random splatter.

One member had been to an ‘Icons’ workshop with Jamel Akib and produced this ‘Marilyn’ painting. Although the background is a striking colour it is not the background technique that Jamel had demonstrated.

The human face is endlessly fascinating and this was another portrait for consideration. It was felt the predominance of the dark clothing around the neck detracted from the subtle face colouring.

Everyone appreciated this little painting entitled “Summer”. It turns out that it was one of four seasons but apparently “Winter” was bought and this created a bit of a hole in the series! Everyone admired the summer atmosphere and especially appreciated the shadows of the garden furniture.

Capturing a particular weather phenomenon can be elusive. The artist of this woodland winter landscape wanted to depict the misty sunshine in this scene but she felt it continued to elude her. Nonetheless, the room felt it was a successful painting if not exactly what the artist was aiming to paint.

A very different approach was the one taken by this artist who achieved a remarkably misty look to this abstract painting that is vaguely reminiscent of Bridget Riley’s optical patterns.

A leopard peering out from behind a tree was painted on a spiral pad of paper. It was thought that a good size mount and frame would help do justice to this little watercolour.

A dramatic owl in flight was painted with water-soluble oils. The artist liked the fact that these mixed and combined in interesting ways in the background. It was suggested that the owl could perhaps be made whiter to help it sand out from the yellow in the background.

The above is only about half the paintings that were brought for everyone to contemplate and enjoy. The variety of subject, medium and technique produced an entertaining, thought-provoking and informative evening for everyone present. The last painting to be put on the easel was wonderfully unusual as can be seen. Everyone admired the depth of colour and perspective achieved here.

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Heritage Gallery New Hang

Museum & Heritage Gallery, The Mall, 33 Obelisk Way, Camberley GU15 3SG

There are 38 new paintings from 14 members of Frimley & Camberley Society of Arts on the display boards upstairs in the Heritage Gallery. These photographs do not do justice to the work which certainly merit a visit to the Gallery itself.

The Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11.00 am to 4.30 pm.

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Members’ Critique

Friday 25th February 2022

Members are invited to bring along a couple of paintings they have been working on lately. These can be framed, unframed, in the process of being painted or set aside for a rainy day. It is an opportunity to let people see what you have been doing, ask for advice on anything from composition, colour, idea or just feedback.
The room will be made up of fellow artists and the comments will be friendly and supportive. It is an interesting evening as it is always fascinating to see and hear what others are painting.
Here are some ideas of how to approach art criticism from the internet.

Why is art criticism important?

Criticism has an important role in developing and deepening the work of artists, but also in helping viewers perceive, and interpret works of art.

How to approach art criticism

1. Be prepared to be receptive
2. Approach critiques as constructive not judgemental
3. Spend a couple of minutes of observation
4. Find something you can relate to with the work
5. Ask questions relating to the artist’s creative process