Painting Quick and Easy on the Fly ~ 3 Expert Tips

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Painting Quick and Easy on the Fly

3 Expert Tips for Easy, Clean & Quick Paintings

Painting quick and easy on-the-fly is simplest with watercolor and a pack or two of watercolor postcards. With a tiny watercolor palette in my satchel during my residency in France, I was able to create 15-minute paintings while waiting for lunch or resting on a park bench.

Painting Quick and Easy
watercolor painted on the fly

These magic postcard paintings are now a huge source of inspiration at home. See how just one of them led to a series of garden paintings>

Preparing for my Tuscan residency, three simple additions will make it even easier to bring home great paintings.

For Tuscan.  I need light-weight, portable, easy and clean-to-use panels which can be mounted and displayed quickly when I return for the holidays.

I am staying in a two bedroom apartment 20 kilometers south of Florence in the heart of the Chianti hills.  I don’t have a studio for two months. I paint en plein air and set my paintings up to dry around the apartment.

1 ~ Butterfly Panels

Painting Quick and Easy
linen and canvas mounted to multi-media art board makes a flexible, yet light-weight rigid painting panel.

I’ve been researching the perfect, light weight panel. In France, I used pads of linen canvas 11 x 14, thumb tacked to the cork board in the residency studio to dry. Without a studio I need a rigid panel which I can prop up along the counter top or baseboard.

Butterfly painting panels are available ready made by a couple different manufacturers. I am creating my own with Multi-Media Art Board and linen canvas. To create them, I am making use of supplies I already have on hand for a fraction of the cost.

Multi media boards are paper impregnated with resin. This makes them archival, dimensionally stable and rigid ~ yet feather weight. A piece of heavy-weight cardboard behind them will make sure they don’t bend when I attach them to my easel. Yet they are rigid enough to sit up against the wall to dry without additional support.

There are several ways to use these for painting. They can be painted on directly with oil, acrylic, watercolor or drawing media. They can also be gessoed with white or tinted gesso for a more customized painting surface. The surface can be further customized  by mounting canvas or linen on them. I am making some of each in different sizes.

2 ~ Mounting Canvas or Linen

Heat Press Method
Painting Quick and Easy
Heat Mounting Press

To mount them, I used archival heat mounting tissue and my mounting press. I used up an old pad of linen 12 x 16s. I trimmed my mounting tissue to fit the linen, with a little excess on all sides. I put it in the heat press for a few minutes, then let it cool. When cooled, I trimmed each one to size., So far I have made some 11 x 14s and 12 x 16s. I will also make some 16 x 20s. These will all fit flat in my suitcase.

Wet Mount Method
Painting Quick and Easy
Finished oil paintings on 300# gessoed watercolor paper (left) and Guerilla Panel (right) bounted to Cradled Wood Panels 1 1/2″ deep

If you don’t have a mounting press, you can use acrylic soft gel or matte medium to wet mount the canvas to panel. I used this method when I returned from France with my unmounted linen paintings. Finished oil or acrylic paintings cannot go in a heat press.

To wet mount, paint both sides with acrylic soft gel or matte medium. Lay them medium sides together and roll with a brayer from the center out to remove any air pockets. Wipe all excess medium away with a damp paper towel. Stack on a rigid table (covered with wax paper), interleave with wax paper, top with board, and weight with a heavy paint can. Allow to dry several hours or overnight. Cut to size when dry.

3 ~ Double Duty Gesso Panels

Dorothy Fagan
My satchel was large enough for watercolors, postcards and water bottle.

In France, I found a small watercolor palette and a stack of watercolor postcards fit perfectly into my satchel. On the spur of the moment, I could whip out my colors and paint . . . while waiting for lunch in a cafe or resting on a Paris park bench.

The only problem with this was that the watercolor postcards curled up. I could buy heavier watercolor paper and cut it into custom postcards. But maybe there’s something better . . .

Painting Quick and Easy
Absorbent white Gesso painted on a Guerilla Panel

It would be wonderful to have the same rigid panels do double duty for watercolor or oil (or drawing, acrylic, inks etc.) To do this, I am using Golden’s Absorbent Ground Gesso.  I like this gesso because it has some tooth, so is also good for drawing with pen, pencil or  charcoal. And guess what? It is intended for watercolor.

Since the multi-media panels (above) are white, they only need one coat. I also have some Guerrilla Plein Air Panels (also thin resin impregnated paper) which are brown, so they need two if you are planning to use watercolor on them. I am particularly fond of the texture created by the brush strokes in the gesso. This creates a much more interesting surface to paint on than a machined finish. I will show you examples of this in a later article.

The gessoed panels are for my small paintings, 5 x 7s, 6 x 8s and 8 x 10s. My larger oil paintings will be painted on  canvas or linen panels.

 Cradled Wood Panels for Presentation

Painting Quick and Easy
Golden Absorbent Gesso on multi media board

When I return from Tuscany it will be November and everyone will be focused on holidays. I’ve researched and tested several presentation methods which will make a nice, clean, contemporary and quick to ship presentation for my finished paintings.

During my French residency, I painted small paintings on 300 # Arches gessoed watercolor paper. At home, I mounted some of them on deep, cradled wood panels with Soft Gel Medium. This worked ok, though it would have been easier to mount a thinner 140# watercolor paper.

Painting Quick and Easy
3/4″ deep cradled panel mounted with 5 x 7 oil painting on canvas panel

Since then, I have tested mounting both the multi media and Guerrilla panels. I am pleased that they were much easier to mount than watercolor paper. They did not even require weighting  while they dried!

Painting Quick and Easy
1 1/2″ cradled wood panel with 300# watercolor paper mounted. Painting is done in oil on gessoed wc paper.

So this time I will mount my 5 x 7s and 6 x 8s on 3/4″ cradled panels. 8 x 10s and larger paintings will mount better on the deeper 1 1/2″ ones. These will make it quick and easy for me to present my finished works for sale in a professional, ready-to-hang way.

Play Along with the Muses

See how I set up my Watercolor Palette >
Sign up to Win my Tuscan Sun Original Watercolor>
Don’t Miss a Post>
See all of my Tuscan Painting Adventure>
Greve in Chianti ~ Taking Off Soon
Postcard Painting Inspiration
Create Your Own Experimental Watercolor Palette and Paint Along>

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Author: Dorothy Fagan

Experimenter, gardener, grandmother ... Dorothy Fagan plays with creativity, dreams, and paint every day.