This will be about my views on what it takes to put a three dimensional world onto a two dimensional surface. With a lot of digressing.
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Jan 19, 2010


JUANA SINGS Oil on board 24 x 30 (c) Margery Caggiano

This is one of a series of portraits that I consider to be more drawing than painting.

I cut masonite panels, technically called quarter inch floor underlayment, to size. Then lightly sanded the edges, sealed both sides of the panel with thinned shellac, and then applied at least 3 coats of gesso. Again, both sides should be done to equalize the tension, which keeps the panel flat. Finally I sanded to an eggshell finish, which is a lovely surface to draw on. I drew with a hard litho pencil, and finally added just enough oil paint to play with, almost a stain.

This particular portrait was determined by the photos I took. She had been talking, but I liked the idea of singing, and gave her a yellow throat and feathers. Morphing, changing, not yet flying. This is not a new painting by any means, but remains one of my favorites.

Strangely (to me), years later she acquired a parrot, then some fertile finches, then a few macaws.

A bird whisperer


  1. I love this portrait....it's so much more interesting than the typical full face straight on portrait. What a great idea, and so interesting that she acquired some birds. :-)

  2. I agree with Deborah...quite interesting and a fun light side to portraiture.
    I especially like your description of your surface. I never thought to coat the wood with shellac and then gesso.

  3. Love this - I particularly like the stained, transparent feel. Really beautiful way to handle oils.

  4. Thanks all. I'll blog next time on buying, cutting,and prepping masonite.