Friday, May 18, 2012

Chaco Canyon triptych plein air - finished and framed

Frame for this arrived yesterday evening, just in time.

A Window Through Time - plein air
pastel on black cardstock
12x5.5", 12x12", 12x5.5" triptych
© S.Johnson
This is the finished painting still taped to the foamboard.  I mentioned in the original post about this painting that I worked on it in two sessions in order to actually finish it on location.  Not only is that a requirement for the upcoming National Parks show in Farmington, NM, that I painted it for, but honestly, it's just plain easier.  Besides, I'm back in that mental state where I'm finding it difficult to paint in my studio, and the last thing I wanted to do was to try and finish it at home.  So, I finished "bricking" it in on location, and added most of the mortar as well.  About the only thing I did back in the studio was to enhance some of the black shadowed areas between the stonework and finesse the values on some of them.

So, framing it.  I went back and forth about how to do this - three separate frames, mats or not, etc.  The problem with three separate frames is that the side pieces - 12x6"- are not standard sizes.  I cannot afford to custom frame anything, so it had to work within the confines of what is available pre-made.  I also thought the effect would be lost with matting each piece.

What I came up with was to frame all 3 pieces together in a 12x24" frame, separated by 0.5" on top of a mat.  I chose a 3" mahogany plein air frame, rather than gold, silver or black, which is what I most often use.  I'm also one of those crazy rebels that frames the pastels right up against the glass with no spacers.  Guess what:  despite what the naysayers try to tell you, it works great.

Here's what it looked like initially:

framed on off-white matboard
Later, while in the shower, of all places, I got to thinking that the white spaces were pretty stark, and I  quickly thought about what I could do to come up with a solution, and then it hit me:  strips of my dark brown cardstock that I use for painting.  Black or light brown were also options, but I thought the darker color seemed best suited:

final version
On the same note about framing, I am into refurbishing frames from thrift stores and garage sales.  Most of the frames you find there are junk, but occasionally, I find those made from quality wood that are in good shape.

Earlier in the week, I happened to swing by a nearby thrift store, as I was looking for some long-sleeved shirts to wear while painting.  In the frame section, this caught my eye:

It's solid oak.  And you can see the price - $5 - including glass.  And, a 1:2 aspect, although I wasn't sure of the exact dimensions (turns out it is 8x16").  But, I knew it would be perfect for one of the 6x12" pieces I did at Chaco:  Score!

I sanded all the clear glossy varnish off to bare wood, and using some titanium white oil paint and mineral spirits to give the effect of liming, transformed it to this:

Not bad, eh?   I think it suits "Fajada Butte" perfectly.


  1. Love your framed version of Fajada Butte! What a great renovation job on the frame!

  2. Thanks LeAnn - I was quite pleased with the final result as well :).

  3. Very nice, Sonya. The dark matboard works well, and great refurb job on the frame. I used to refurb old frames and was always happy with end results. Painting and presentations well done!


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