Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Two small landscapes: East & West

Resuming the landscape theme here, with two small pastels that were another experiment of sorts.  I wanted to see how it would work to dry mount some Strathmore paper on foamboard, both as a painting surface and just for ease of handling (and, more importantly, framing).  I see lots of pastelists talk about painting on paper mounted to Gatorfoam, archival matboard, or other rigid backings.  But, no one explains techniques or materials they use.

I've experimented with the 3M photomount spray, which was messy, toxic-smelling, and didn't seem to work all that well.  I've used the double-sided tape that scrapbookers use, and while it wasn't messy, it wasn't terribly efficient, especially for larger sized pieces.  And, I've never used it with pastel papers - only sandpaper and only on matboard, not foamboard.

I came across a glue stick (Elmer's, I believe) in the scrapbooking section of the store a few weeks ago, and it looked like something worth trying.  Permanent adhesion, acid-free (important; I've had drawings from college ruined from using rubber cement) and in a stick form, so not messy and probably wouldn't buckle the paper.

Using some of the strips remaining after trimming the Strathmore papers to 12x12" and some acid-free foamboard pieces, I decided to give it a try and make some 5x7" panels.   I have a Logan matboard cutter, which is extremely handy for getting a nice straight edge on foamboard.    

I found that a good technique was to draw a line on the wrong side of the paper, apply the glue past it, and then carefully line up one corner edge to the foamboard.  Starting in the center and pressing out seemed to be effective at removing/preventing bubbles, at least in the 3 samples I tried.  Then, after it had dried for a minute, I carefully measured the two remaining edges and cut them with a small hand-held Xacto blade.

The glue, which was in a dry stick form to begin with, dried without darkening or warping the paper, and assuming I got it past the edges, has kept the paper from lifting.  It was easy, not messy and had no odor.  So, I'll be using that for any paper mounting to backing surfaces from now on, and with any photos I mat as well.  

Anyway, here are the two paintings.  They were done quickly; I tried to keep things loose.  The first is based on a photo taken in northern NM a few weeks ago; the cloud is actually in CO.  I simplified the scene by removing a bridge and other undesirable elements that were in the photo.  Just a line of trees, some brief foreground, and the sandstone mesas to anchor the cumulonimbus.   

The second is a farm in PA, from a photo taken on our move drive.  I was drawn to the simple shapes of the treeline and the way the golden grass/grain splits the cornfields and curves around, almost like a river in a canyon.  

Monsoon Season over the Mesas
5x7 inches
Strathmore paper (blue) on foamboard

Field of Plenty
5x7 inches
Strathmore paper (rust) on foamboard


  1. Like the simplification of these. Your pastels are forever beautiful!

    Something you'd think would be easy is gluing/mounting and in truth, it can be a real challenge. Sounds as if you've found a good solution.

    We have a dry mount press I use, and sometimes PVA Glue mixed with methyl cellulose, but may give your method a try.

  2. Thanks, Liz :) - I sometimes wonder if I'm wandering around aimlessly with these paintings; I guess it's that self-doubt that we probably all go through.

    I'm still working on the glue/dry mounting to see if I can improve upon the technique. I did a larger mount of sandpaper to matboard today, so we'll see how that goes. If you've already got a dry mount press, that's probably much better than what I'm doing, but this is an easy and inexpensive alternative.


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