Sunday, October 16, 2016

How To Make A Wet Panel Carrier

Here's a quick tutorial showing how you can make a wet panel carrier from basic materials.

Materials I used to make this box which fits (4) 8"x10" painting panels :
1.5"x3/4" pine or poplar or oak board that's 28" long at a minimum.
2pcs 1/8" MDF board about 9"x12" (you will need to cut it down to size later)
Wood glue
18-20 Small brad type nails.
Hammer, table saw.

Step #1 Cut the channels / slots
Using a table saw, cut channels in the 1.5"x3/4" length of wood.  The channels should be about 1/8" deep and about one and a half widths of the saw blade.  This allows enough room for the painting panels to slide freely in these channels / slots.  Try to space four slots equally across the long face of the wood.  You want enough gap between slots so your wet paintings won't touch.

Step #2 Cut the slotted 1.5"x3/4" into the two side lengths and one length for the bottom:
By cutting the channels first, while the board is in one length and then chopping that board into the sides and bottom, you ensure the slots align perfectly.  You'll understand this when you assemble it!

Step #3 Layout the sides and bottom pieces with the channels and attach the 1/8" MDF panels for sides.
Now remember, if you want a carrier that holds 8x10" panels, have a few on hand and make all your measurements and cuts so the panels will fit perfectly into the channels.

I used wood glue and small nails (I actually used small brads since I have a nail gun) to attach the MDF to the 1.5" wood with the channels.  You can put a couple of 8x10 panels in the carrier and use clamps to hold the unit together while glueing up to be sure the unit is square and will hold your panels.

Step #4 Cut and fit the lid.
The lid is another piece of the 1.5" wide wood, but only 1/4" thick.  It has no grooves since the painting panels will slide down into the box and be flush with the bottom-side of the lid.  It is cut to fit exactly into the top recess in the box.  I also sanded the bottom edge where the lid pivots against the box...this inside edge needs to be rounded off so the lid can open and close easily without catching on the box.
To attach the lid, I drilled a hole through each sidee of the box, into the side edges of the lid (which I held in it's final, closed position, while drilling).  I inserted a small nail into each of these holes as a hinge.

Step #5 Final sanding
Once the box is assembled I sand the outside edges of the closed box lightly so all edges are flush and slightly rounded to the box feels and looks nice.

Step #6 Stain and seal
Finally, I added a red stain to the sides and then applied polyurethane to all of the outside surfaces.  You can omit the stain if you want but I do suggest sealing the wood with polyurethane to protect it.

Stanley Hotel

Stanley Hotel

Scott Ruthven
Stanley Hotel (Study)
11"X14" Oil on Linen Panel
The Stanley Hotel is in Estes Park, Colorado.  Built by F.O. Stanley (of Stanley Steamer fame) in 1909 to be one of the grandest hotels in the world.  It was originally painted yellow but I personally love the sharp, clean white and red combination.  Some of you may also know it was the inspiration for Stephen King's "The Shining" and parts of "Dumb and Dumber" were also filmed there.

I started this painting on location so as to really capture the early morning light.  I finished up the indication of windows and other details back in my studio.  I would like to make a much larger studio painting from this piece.

Click here to see it on my website.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Sunshine At Rainbow Lakes

"Sunshine at Rainbow Lakes"
6"x10" Oil on Linen mounted to Gatorboard
I painted this on location in the Colorado Rockies, Northwest from Boulder, Colorado.  It is oil paint on linen which is mounted to archival gator board.  All materials are of the highest quality and it has a protective varnish applied.  I have signed the front and back.  The painting measures 6"x10" and is mounted to a 10.5"x14.5" piece of black Gatorboard.  You can frame it or display it as is.

$99 Ebay Auction:
Sold, but you can see what's currently up for auction by clicking --> HERE <--

Friday, August 7, 2015

How To Make a Paint Box and Panel Support - Part III

In this third and final post, I'll show you how to make the panel holder which secures your painting surface to your tripod.

The wooden contraption holding my painting is the panel holder

Material list:

  •   (1) 1"x2"x4' piece of oak or similar hard wood.
  •   (1) 1/4"-20x5/16" T-Nut.
  •   (1) 1/4" x 1.25" long carriage bolt.
  •   (1) 1/4" female thumb screw head.
  •   (1) Metal washer to fit around the 1/4" bolt.
  •   (2) Small 3/4" nails and some wood glue (to attach the bottom ledge to the main body).

I bought all the parts at my local Home Depot but you can find the wood at most lumber yards and the hardware at ACE hardware or other hardware stores.

Required tools:

  • Fine toothed hand saw
  • Table saw
  • Drill
  • 3/4" spade drill bit
  • 3/8" regular drill bit
  • 1/4" regular drill bit
  • Hammer

The main component of my holder is the 1"x2", 4' long piece of oak.  The actual size is .5"x1.5"x4'.  I chose oak because it is a rigid hard wood that will stand up to some abuse but you can use whatever you want.


1. Cut this 4' piece of oak into the following lengths:

  • (1) 24" piece for the main body
  • (1) 4" piece for the bottom ledge
  • (1) 6" piece for the top support 

2. With your table saw, plunge cut a slot lengthwise down the center of the 24" piece.  The slot must be a little wider than 1/4" so the bolt you will run through it can move along the length easily.  This is a tricky and dangerous cut to make and you should not attempt it if you are not trained and familiar with this type of cut on a table saw.  The slot should start about 3" down from the top and end 3.5" up from the bottom of the 24" main body piece.

3.  With a 3/4" spade drill bit, drill a hole halfway through the main body piece, 2" up from the bottom.  Center this hole on the 1.5" width of the board.  Then, switch to a 3/8" standard drill bit and drill a hole in the center if this 3/4" hole that goes the rest of the way through the board.  This is where you will mount the T-Nut in the next step.

4. Insert the 1/4" T-Nut into the hole you just drilled.  The T-Nut has four spines that you want to drive into the wood so it will not turn when you attach the tripod mount to it.  You can set the T-Nut in place by hammering it down with a small block of wood or dowel.  It should be recessed into the 3/4" hole you drilled.

5. Angle your table saw blade to cut a 15 degree bevel along one long edge of the 4" and 6" pieces.  This bevel will help hold on to your painting panel.

6. Attach the 4" bottom ledge piece perpendicular to the 24" main body piece with the bevel edge facing up (see picture).  Attach it to the bottom end of the 24" piece, just below the T-Nut.  I put some glue on it and then nailed it to the 24" piece.  You want to make sure this 4" piece is at a 90 degree angle to the 24" piece.  This 4" piece is what supports the bottom of your painting panel.

7. Drill a 1/4" hole all the way through the 6" top support piece...centering the hole 3" from either end.

8. Coat all the wood pieces with polyurethane.  This will protect the wood, waterproof it and make it easier to clean.

9. To attach the top support piece to the main body, insert the 1/4" carriage bolt through the slot on the 24" board from the back then through the hole you drilled in the 4" top support piece.  The bolt should protrude 1/4".  Place the washer over the end of the bolt sticking out and then screw on the thumb screw head.  You can now adjust this top support up and down the main body and use the thumb screw to tighten it down.

10. Screw on the tripod mounting bracket that came with your tripod to the T-Nut from the backside of the panel holder.

11. Attach the holder to your tripod.

12. Now you can secure a painting panel to the holder by adjusting the top support to accommodate whatever panel size you are using.


Here's a closeup of the bottom end of the holder.

1/4"-20x5/16" T-Nut
The top support assembly

My camera to tripod mounting bracket attached to the T-Nut on the backside of the panel holder.

So, now that you know how to make one, unless you love woodworking, save yourself the hassle and buy the whole setup from James Coulter at  I don't know James and get no profit from this but I'm telling you, you can get the palette and panel carrier and even a tripod from him for a great price and he makes a great product.

Now get out there and paint!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

My Unbelievable Night!

As I get ready to submit my paintings for the 2014 Colorado Plein Air Arts Fest, hosted by the Golden Triangle Museum District in downtown Denver, I realized I never wrote a post about the FANTASTIC night I had last December at the 2013 show.

Scott Ruthven -  2013 Colorado Plein Air Arts Fest Awards

I entered three paintings and all three won awards!!!  Wow, was I shocked when I walked in and saw the award medallions.

  • The painting on the left, "San Pellegrinos & Lime" won 2nd place in the professional artist category
  • The middle painting "East on 16th From the D&F Tower" won the "Prudent Man Award of Excellence.
  • And the painting on the right, "Aligned and Sublime" won an honorable mention.
54 professional artists had work juried into this show, which makes winning these awards even more special to me.

You can see all the work and full list of award winners here.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Paint The Poudre Plein Air 2014

Here are my five paintings from the "Paint The Poudre Plein Air" competition in Fort Collins, Colorado this July.

Drive-in, Mishawaka Style, 12"x9", Oil
©Scott Ruthven 2014
Fist Place Winner and Purchase Award Winner

Balance and Grace, 12"x12", Oil
©Scott Ruthven 2014

Evening Walk, 11"x14", Oil
©Scott Ruthven 2014

Quiet Pastures, 11"x14", Oil
©Scott Ruthven 2014

Last Light on The Poudre, 9"x12", Oil
©Scott Ruthven 2014

To cap off the week, I was thrilled when the amazing landscape painter, Marc Hanson, awarded my painting "Drive-in, Mishawaka Style" first place!  
Marc is a wonderful person and artist whom I have learned a lot from over the years.  Receiving this award from him is something I never would have imagined just a few years ago.

Receiving my award!
Photo credit: Ani Espriella


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Banish Your Paintings To The Closet!

The value of putting a painting away for a while then taking a fresh look at it later.

As artists, we get so involved with a piece that our brain starts to see what it wants and often will overlook the most obvious of flaws.

Here are two of my paintings where this happened.

"B's" and Smiley faces

In the painting with the plane, somehow, the dashes and dots of color I built up in the trees formed a perfect capital 'B'.  You can see it dead center in the detail photo (2nd below).  It wasn't until I was looking at thumbnails of the painting on my computer that I noticed it.

Scott Ruthven

Scott Ruthven

In this painting, done plein air, the tangle of roots and dead branches at the base of the fallen tree formed a pretty clear smiley face, complete with a long nose!  It looks like a character from the Wizard of Oz.

Scott Ruthven

Scott Ruthven

Maybe, there is something else happening here...some larger code being delivered through me over the course of my painting career.  Hmmmm....just saying :-)  Anyway, fixing these was easy enough, you just hope you find these things before the painting makes it out into the world! 

Of course, once you find a flaw it is the ONLY thing you can see from then on.  It SCREAMS at you to be fixed!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Ahhh, Springtime!!

Finally, Spring has come to Colorado.  I love painting winter scenes, but it sure is nice to mix up some greens and dollop on some pure cadmiums!

Here are two recent paintings.

Plein Air
Springtime In Boulder, Colorado
10"x8" | Oil on linen panel
Painting this scene of the foothills and snowcapped peaks from Boulder Colorado was a real treat.  In this one scene you experience the cold, snowcapped mountains, the foothills, which have just a bit of now on them and the fields bursting with golds and greens of Spring.


Plein Air Garden Birds
A Spot For Tea
10"x8" | Oil on linen panel
This was a quaint garden at an early 20th century home in Eaton, Colorado.  The Forsythia is in full bloom and the larger trees on the property create that wonderful dappled light on the lawn.  What a lovely spot to sit with a cup of tea and listen to the birds.

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