Mixing Up the Painting Process with Canvas & Coating

When San Francisco-based photo retoucher Leonard Gordon started exploring painting as a hobby, he was intrigued and influenced by Surrealist works by artists like Georgio De Chirico. He developed a similar style of artistry, but began playing with the way his artwork was finished.

Leonard Gordon applies a semi-transparent layer of thinned oil paint on his artwork, Maple Leaf, which is printed on Sunset by Fredrix Matte Canvas.

“I start with a line drawing projected onto a canvas,” Gordon says. “Then I paint it with acrylic and take a picture of it with my Canon EOS Mark 3, then scale it to 36×48 in Photoshop.”

Next, Gordon takes the photo of the printed piece to his friend, Dennis Mayer, a print provider in Burlingame, Calif., who prints it onto Sunset by Fredrix Matte Canvas using his Canon imagePROGRAF printer. Then, Mayer adds a layer of protection with Sunset Satin Coating and returns it to Gordon.

Typically, that would be the end of the process, but Gordon was intrigued with what would happen if he used thinned oil paint on top of the coating to enhance the artwork further. The result was dramatic.

“When you put the oil painting on top of the coating, the whole thing just comes alive,” he says of the painting, pictured above, before the final layer of oil painting, and after. “That’s what’s giving the painting depth. It’s all about bringing out the color of the print itself.”

Mayer has been working with the Sunset by Fredrix Matte Canvas for years. “I first started using it because of the Fredrix name recognition,” he says. “I like the texture and the matte finish helps to achieve an art fee to the prints.”

Gordon’s artwork, which includes Maple Leaf as well as several other Surrealist paintings, will be on display for his first gallery show this Spring at Jim Gleeson’s studio in San Francisco.

Printer Challenge: Reproduce the 30-foot Painting, African Menagerie

Last fall, Christopher Glassman, general partner at Casual Graphics in Hays, Kan., got a call to reproduce an enormous painting by Brian Jarvi titled “African Menagerie.” The painting, which captures 210 species living in Africa now, was 17 years in the making. It’s been part of a traveling exhibit and Jarvi wanted a more manageable version for smaller venues, as well as prints for reproductions, books and other uses that might come up.

“Chris is the consummate professional,” Jarvi says. “We were very fortunate to have somebody right there who was so skilled. The reproduction is probably superior to anything we’ve had done prior, and with that said, the Menagerie was probably the greatest challenge, as well.”