Painting on Wood

Nizina River Habitat, 16 x 24" Acrylic on Pine panel, 2017

K'esugi Ridge, 24 x 16" Acrylic on Pine panel, 2017

Noatak Stones, 12 x 12" Acrylic on Pine, 2012

Since it is almost the end of the year I have been looking back over my plans and goals from 2017. If you’re interested in how I do that, I’m going to talk more about it in my next post. One thing I have written a few times in my list of goals is “work larger” or on a bigger scale.

I was limited for a long time by my workspace. For a few years we lived in a yurt and I only had a 2 x 2’ camp table which was also our dining table, desk, and only available flat surface. So I got used to working small and I’ve been having a hard time breaking that habit consistently with my personal work.

This fall, I returned to something I tried back in 2012, working with acrylic paint on wood panels. I also tried to scale things up a bit. I created two larger paintings this fall: Nizina River Habitat, (which was then purchased by the Alaska Contemporary Art Bank) and K’esugi Ridge (which I just finished and is available). Both of them are 16 x 24”, which I know is not giant, but it’s a bit step up from 9 x 12”. I'm also sharing a photo of Noatak Stones, which is the painting I created back in 2012 and was one of my first tries at this technique of working on wood.

One hard part about working on large paper is that it can warp and buckle. Even using the thick, 300 lb watercolor paper that I like, the final work can be difficult to frame, and it needs a frame. I love that acrylic on wood is durable and no frame is needed. I varnish my paintings with this Golden MSA varnish to protect it.

I enjoy the natural imperfections that come with working on wood, which I can paint over or let come through. In some places I gesso over top of the wood before painting so that the final layer is more opaque. If I don’t gesso the final paint is more transparent. And then of course I like to let the naked wood show through in places.

I’ve got a stack of more panels (even larger ones!), which I am hoping to sand this week. I also have a number of compositions in my head. It’s time to draw them out and get painting. Here is to more large work in 2018!

Below is a gallery of these paintings in progress, so you can see what I mean about building up layers with gesso (white) or directly applying the paint to the wood:

And here are some more recent paintings I created on birch rounds using acrylic paint and pen. These are available in my Etsy shop.