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  • Writer's pictureLucy

What Happens After a Painting is Finished?

Recently I finished my latest still life, "Hail the Egg", now what? Does the painting stay on my easel or get stowed or framed? Great questions!

Every medium is handled differently. For example, oil paintings don't need to have a frame or require being put behind glass. Neither do acrylic or watercolor paintings. However, many artists decide to frame them behind glass to protect them.

Pastels are different--their surface is easily smeared and the pastel paper can be damaged/torn so there is no choice, pastel paintings have to be protected behind glass.

Some pastel artists "fix" their paintings by spraying a fixative but I find those products use nasty chemicals, dull the pastel colors, and often leave droplets which, in my opinion, ruin the surface of the painting. So I choose to not "fix" my paintings making them even more susceptible to being smudged.

The good news is that if pastel paintings are handled with care they last generations, longer than oil paintings.

Once a pastel painting is behind glass it's hard to get a high resolution photo without a glare for future prints/marketing materials. So the first step after finishing a painting is to get it professionally photographed. To that end I securely tape my painting to a stiff piece of cardboard, with artist tape, cover it with glassine paper (also securely taped in place) and take it to the photographer.

I use John Baker at High Desert Arts in Santa Fe. In the photo below you can see my painting in the foreground and his studio in the background.

He provides quality low, medium, high and "raw" digital files along with proof/print on good quality paper. Usually I leave my painting with him for a week to give him time to work it into his busy schedule and then pick it up and head directly over to my framer.

I work with Sandy Goins at Hand Graphics in Santa Fe. It's a small frame shop but Sandy has a great eye and with a little help from her shop dog Red (blurry picture below), she pulls out mats and frames that really compliment my paintings.

Picking the right mat and frame takes time--oftentimes I'm at the frame shop for over an hour. Although some of that time is spent easily chatting and enjoying the process which I find to be pretty fun. 😊 The frame really can help tell the story of the painting.

Part of the decision I make with Sandy is what type of glass to use. I always choose museum glass despite its higher cost. The UV protection and lack of glare is worth it to me.

Once we pick out all the parts and pieces I leave my painting with Sandy to professionally put together. She works quickly and I can usually pick up my painting in 2-3 weeks.

Finally I bring the painting home and usually hang it in my studio (below) for a while to enjoy it before taking it to the local Corner Art Gallery to sell.

I really like how this painting turned out--the black mat and black frame really heighten the dramatic lighting of the egg and the contrast with the white feathers makes this a striking piece that catches the eye from across the room.

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