Monday, June 27, 2016

The Art of Panel Making (2016) (Post #2)

So far, I have been working with Neal Hughes for about a bit over a month. Mainly I’ve worked a lot with making gator board panels for him to paint on and constructing frames so they have the proper equipment to hang on walls and hold the panels. This sounds like a quick and simple task, however there is quite some time and effort that goes into this process. In order to make a 12x16 panel, I must first get the large gator board (basically a thicker foam board), take the according measurements and mark it on the board to cut it down. The usual size of such a board before I cut it down is 32x40. But since I never just make one panel at a time, I have to consider the entire board and plan it out so I don’t end up wasting any material. For example, in an ideal world, I could cut a 8x12, 12x16, 12x20, 16x24, and 20x24 all out of just one 32x40 gator board without having any leftover unusable material. Exhilarating, I know. However, I usually end up having some unusable material.

I took a class in middle school called “Logic and Reasoning,” where we mostly dealt with intricate puzzles and tried to use “logic” to come to a “reason” and result for the puzzle. Though I found this class a nice change, I never thought I would be able to utilize it in any kind of artistic setting. I would like to congratulate my 8th grade teacher; only 6 years later I am finally seeing how useful that class was. (Though I bet he would’ve never guessed it would have to do with cutting panels in art school.)

After each correctly measured panel is cut, I have to do the same process of measuring and cutting again of the adhesive and the actual canvas. So now that I have all my materials prepped, I can begin to attach the adhesive to the panel, and then the canvas on top. This is by my favorite part, I mean who doesn’t love hot irons and heating glue. The panel goes into the heating press twice, first with just the adhesive to make the surface sticky, and second with the canvas that will then stick to the panel. Now at this step, the excess canvas can be trimmed down by hand. And WOLLLAH, you got yourself a working surface to paint beautiful things on.

I’d like to title this dramatic short story as, The Art of Panel Making (2016).

Written by Jessica Dowicz.

On a serious note, I have learned a lot about what it requires to be a successful artist. And that is not only artistic talent and creative ideas, but one must posses non-art related traits. An artist has to be organized, they have to not only see what’s on the canvas, but they have to see the bigger picture too.  By working alongside Neal, I have seen how much work it takes to be a functioning artist, and a lot of the work is not just painting. But rather it’s making panels, emailing organizations, calling clients, shipping one’s artwork, managing funds, it’s the nitty gritty stuff that nobody tells you your freshman year of college. I will be able to bring this experience back with my to Uarts and begin to organize and structure my life as a student in a more productive way that will serve me when I begin my professional career.


  1. I've found a lot of overlap in my own internship with what you talk about in your last paragraph. An artist's ability to make work and garner success is highly contingent on work that isn't related to art at all. I would also agree with you that we're not very exposed to this at UArts, and we could perhaps benefit from a course or visiting lecture dedicated to introducing this reality.

    1. I totally agree! That would be great to have something to show/ but also let students experience real world experience while in school. I suppose these fellowships are just that, but for the entire student body to experience something like this would be helpful. Just an idea, but I think this is something important that could be addressed.