Monthly Archives: January 2015

Making a Custom Illusion Frame

Part One

For an artist, custom framing is wonderful and can add to the beauty of ones art, but it can also add to the upfront expenses in a hurry. Additionally it adds to the weight when shipping to galleries or shows. So while being stuck at home for several days due to an ice storm I began wondering how could I make a painting ready for presentation with the look of a custom frame that I could use in conjunction with my larger sized “Byron” impressionist art works at minimal cost.

The solution is what I call a Custom Illusion Frame.

Below I will detail the process of making a Custom Illusion Frame which entails my using faux painting techniques which I enjoy doing on other surfaces, but never have time for, so this was a perfect time to put to use those underused skills.

First here is the finished piece minus the painting. I’ll demonstrate that another time so you can see the final result. You can click on the image for a larger view.


Here are some of the materials I assembled and some of which I already had on hand.

  1.  18×24 ready made canvas with staple free edges
  2.  8 foot length of moulding from Lowes Home Improvement for less than $5
  3.  Artist Acrylic Gesso ( had that already )
  4. Modeling Paste ( had that )
  5. Sponge brushes
  6. Two small bottles in a lighter and darker gold from Modern Masters paint which is great because it’s acrylic based. No messy fumes. Found this from a local paint supplier. Google it to find a resource near you. ( had that already as well )
  7. Small decorative fleur de lis stencil which is a stylized lily or iris flower. (had this one also)
  8. Three days of icy weather unable to leave the house and with nothing else to do. (got this one even though I didn’t want it)
  9. Inexpensive Miter Box and Saw.
  10. Elmer’s Glue (got it)
  11. Blue Painters Tape in both a smaller and larger size.
  12. Acrylic antiquing liquid which is a translucent paint found at my local Hobby Lobby store along with the other small plastic bottled acrylic paints. ( Had this one too )
Custom Illusion frame step 1
Custom Illusion frame step 1

What you see above is my first abstract called blue tape on white background. Not really. I took my inexpensive wood moulding and cut two pieces at 45 degree angles measuring 18″ on the long side and another two 24″ pieces on the long side. If you measure wrong you’ll end up short. By the way, this was my first time to do this, but I remember the saying of measure twice cut once.

Next using Elmer’s glue I glued the wood frame directly on top of the canvas making sure the pieces were lined up properly. Short on clamps I used my collection of art books to weight the moulding down on the edge of the canvas so that I’d get a good bond.

The next day I was able to apply modeling paste to fill in the cracks where the moulding joins in the corners and the small gap where the moulding and canvas are glued together on the side. Then I measured two inches inward and all around and applied my two inch blue painters tape onto the canvas.

Custom Illusion Frame Step 2

Custom Illusion Frame Step 2

Custom Illusion Frame Step 3

Custom Illusion Frame Step 3

Using a sponge brush I applied acrylic Gesso to the wood moulding as well as on the canvas overlapping the painters tape and along the sides. For the area between the moulding and painters tape I applied the gesso rather thickly and smoothed it off with a palette knife. Now I let it dry. After drying I sanded the areas lightly to provide a smoother finish. I then vacuumed up the sanding dust.

Next using my darker shade of Modern Masters acrylic paint and a sponge brush I apply my first layer to the wood frame and on the canvas followed by subsequent layers until I had a nice opaque even finish.

Custom Illusion Frame Step 4

Custom Illusion Frame Step 4

I then followed this up with painting the side edges of the canvas a solid black. To make that task easier I took two long screw eyes and put them into the back of the canvas and using a larger sheet of corrugated card board I marked where the screw eyes would be, punched a hole and inserted the screw eyes through them holding the canvas in place. This made it easier to paint the sides turning the cardboard instead of the canvas.

Custom Illusion Frame Step 5

Custom Illusion Frame Step 5

Here’s another view of the painted sides.

Custom Illusion Frame detail side view.

Custom Illusion Frame detail side view.

For now I’ll take a break. Follow me next time in Part Two where I’ll show the next step of painting the fleur di lis design in the four corners.

Thanks for following along!






Finding Beauty in Small Things

The title for my first blog post of 2015 may sound like a pitch announcing some new small paintings but it’s about a non art subject of when an aging parent and a child experience a role reversal and finding beauty in small things. I write the first draft and final post for this blog entry sitting in a hospital room watching over my Mother who was admitted the beginning of the new year. Without going into details as to her condition she’s reached a point in her life where she is totally dependent upon others to tend to her needs and has been so for some time. Sadly its a situation that is all too common of an experience for most of us at some point in our lives.

I can’t help but think back to a time where I have a vague memory of my Mother feeding me in a high chair, coaxing me to eat some new Gerber Baby food. I’m pretty sure I wanted cherries and not carrots. But she generally succeeded in getting me to eat. I also know she took care of me when I was sick and reassured me when I was afraid and that things were going to be OK. Now as I patiently feed her here in the hospital I can’t help but ponder how our roles of being a caregiver have reversed and much of what she did for me when I was young is now being given back in similar ways.

Some dear friends of ours stopped by at the hospital to visit and at one point I interrupted our conversation to provide my Mother with some water through a straw. As I turned back around almost all had tears in their eyes as it brings to mind memories of their own parents.

For those of us who have either experienced giving care to an aging parent or perhaps are already doing so, the process can be difficult for both parties. However, one trait of an artist is that they often go about finding beauty in small things endeavoring to see more than the obvious and at times like this it’s a beneficial trait in trying to remain positive in difficult circumstances, not just when it applies to art.

At one point my Mother opened her eyes and looking at me with eyes of recognition she gave a great big smile and started to laugh, but the expression of laughter turned to that of a cry. Perhaps she experienced an awareness towards her condition or other fear which she could not verbalize. I calmly reassured her that everything was OK and as for the rest of the family we are all in different places but that me and my wife were there. I also gave a simple explanation as to why she didn’t feel good, and all that hospital stuff was to help her feel better. The explanation seemed to soothe her and as they brought her lunch tray into the room I began the process of feeding her. She ate better than she had since arriving in the hospital. Yes, a measure of beauty in a small thing.

True, the obvious, may not always look good, but the small things such as being able to reassure her, bring a smile, bolster her will, even singing to her are small priceless moments. For me one of those priceless moments was yesterday when something made my Mother start sneezing one right after the other. First you have to understand that she has lost the ability of conveying understandable speech except for a word or two such as NO! However, she found another word to express her annoyance after about the 9th sneeze that was understandable.  It was a funny moment coming from a 72 pound frail woman.

Sure, there are sacrifices, I’m away from the easel and painting for a time, but parents too sacrificed for their children when they were in need. Also just as parents didn’t do everything right in taking care of us and in retrospect I realize I could have done some things better.  I recall reading an article years ago, that had the title: From the Cradle to the Grave, the Greatest Need is Love. Even without the article the title speaks volumes.

So, if you one day find yourself in the role of a caregiver whether to a greater or lesser degree, remember that as you go about giving your care, govern it with the principle of love and in the process you will see beyond the obvious and will see the beauty in small things. It’s a priceless reward.

In ways of practicality I found this article which considered the following three points:

  • How can parents and their adult children prepare for “the days of distress”?
  • When may parents need more help from their children?
  • What practical help can you give to someone who is caring for an elderly parent?

Thanks for reading.