Category Archives: Art Works

Forgotten Coast en Plein Air 2018

The Vision
The festival, billed as “America’s Great Paint-out,” brings invited artists into its heart for ten days each May, into an area rich with its own culture, into a setting vivid and rare.

The Setting
Picture Highway 98, running along the coast on the Florida panhandle.  Between Carrabelle to the east and Mexico Beach to the west, coastal fishing towns —Eastpoint, Apalachicola, Port St Joe—slow your progress just enough to take in wide expanses of tranquil bays, inlets, and nutrient rich rivers.  Views of vast marshlands or the breaking waves of the Gulf of Mexico disappear into dense pine woods for dozens of miles until you come back into the light again, rolling through yet another working village and on, along the causeways and bridges, where the road often adds a flounce of sea along its shoulders.


Joe Taylor, left, Kerry and Pollyanne, right, at the reception desk

The Facilitators
Note the people, too.  Two hundred and fifty volunteers make this major event work for the Forgotten Coast Cultural Coalition;  they power through eighty-two miles’ worth of venues.

Panel discussions, one-on-ones, receptions and artist demos are scattered all along this stretch of highway.  The artists have infinite subjects:  working shrimp boats, white-sand beaches, sailboats half afloat, shotgun homes, and shady vintage porches wait their turns.

Completed paintings flood into the Joe, the wetroom in Port St. Joe, where one of the lead volunteers and Vice President of the Coalition, Joe Taylor, explained that, just as Apalachicola is known as “Apalach,” Port St. Joe is called the “Joe” by locals.  The refurbished storefront also known as the “Joe” is new home to the event, a labor of love for Council president Susan Bassett, who negotiated the lease with an offer to purchase option.

The Coalition’s mission is the advancement of culture through art enrichment and community involvement.  Invited artists are charged with sharing knowledge, answering questions, and inspiring conversations.

The Judging
Panel discussions were led by Lori Putnam, who was also tasked with judging.  Her presentation on the subject began by urging artists to consider “going pro,” and allowing more new artists to compete in open class, citing the difficulties she encounters in the process of recognizing and awarding newer talent.

Putnam’s open class selections are based on strong patterns of light and dark—and the use of warms and cools for both—as well as design and drawing skill, hard and soft edges, mood, and details that are not overdone.  “Tight,” she said, “but not tiring.”

Her professional class selections are based on more stringent criteria, such as how a painting leads the eye through itself.  She likes to see artists who break the rules, but with subtlety and strength in their compositions, and she urges abstraction first.  “Tell a lie,” she said, “and make it work, but no corny stuff.”  Painters in the audience were encouraged to “bother” the invited and the “Florida’s Finest” ambassador artists wherever they found them and, for growth, to watch them paint.


Tony Robinson with a few of his paintings

A Sampling of the Artists
One of the panel discussions Lori Putnam led included Tony Robinson, Debra Huse, Mark Fehlman, and Nancie King Mertz, on the art of storytelling through plein air painting.  Putnam drew the artists out through a series of questions, getting their backgrounds, painting preferences, and humorous events from each.

Tony Robinson, who lives in Ireland, likes to paint alleys and bars, and is drawn to people, who often populate his paintings.  His mid-summer “Art in the Open” ( festival, held in southeast Ireland was an effort, he said, “to find artists who did this gritty plein air thing.”  His painting advice includes “going for the particular,” and he urges newcomers to find perspective simply, by using overlapping shapes.

Debra Huse, an Indianapolis native, grew up drawing at the Indy 500.  She now lives in California and works out of a studio in a boatyard.  She loves boats and their histories, and was moved by Alabama shrimpers who spent an hour talking with her during the Forgotten Coast event.

Mark Fehlman always wanted to be an architect, and learned to draw in a way that allowed clients to trust him, thus moving his design forward.  Now a full-time California artist, he said he’d be fulfilled just painting the houses of Apalachicola, that he tries to find beauty or a message in everything he looks at, and aims to “present them as elegant.”

Nancie King Mertz, of Chicago, took an architecture class in college, and she said that she’s fascinated by light and shadow in structures, especially bridges.  “The rustier, the better,” she said.  In response to Putnam’s final question, asking artists how they felt about the concept of artists as historians, she agreed.  “We are historians in some respects,” she said, noting disappearing landmark structures in Chicago.

Fehlman spoke on the humanity and variety of old houses on the Forgotten Coast, and referred to artists as “the chroniclers of history.”  Huse spoke of honoring the old boats before they’re gone, and the changes she’s noted in vanishing landscapes.  She feels that plein air painting adds to the community and the conversations found within it.

Robinson does not think of himself as a “recordist,” at least not consciously.  He agrees that his work has some of that effect, but believes that he doesn’t have answers about the importance of what it is that he does.

The Results
On Sunday, May 13th, the Joe was decked out.  Goblets and plates alike were colored in jewel tones—fruit, fish, and pastries reflecting the rich and abundant paintings.

Joe Taylor, adjusting a microphone for one of the final presenters, made time to tell me:  “Encourage people to come.”

Go to and click on “Art” to view the work.


How to Make a Market Bag…Plain or Fancy

…Or a road-trip bag, knitting/crochet bag, or gift bag.  Only basic sewing skills are needed.  Really.

Here’s the simple design, using folded paper.  You can make any size of bag by making sure that the length of each “B” =  half the length of “A” plus a half-inch.

And here is my overused homemade pattern, below, with a second photo showing what the folded fabric you’ll cut looks like when opened.  The bottom edge is placed on the fold of the fabric, as you’ll see next….


I’ve cut the inner and outer shells first, then cut quilted cotton to use as an interfacing.  Above the cut-out rectangles, notice that each side flap is about a half-inch wider than half of what will become the bottom of the bag–which allows for the side seams.  (The length of each “B” =  half the length of “A” plus a half-inch, as in the paper bag example.)

Use your pattern again to cut out the interior pocket lengths–quilted fabric can be added as interfacing, as in the following photo, but you could just double a sturdy fabric–such as canvas or duck, for use as interior pockets.

  Next, I pin the pockets where I want to sew them, leaving an inch and a half below each pocket strip, so the pockets are near the bottom of the bag.  Then I spaced and pinned the pockets on both sides about equally–with four pockets per side.

Sew around the entire pocket strip, turning the fabric and sewing up–and then back down–each of the individual pocket seams (I pause and add some extra stitching at the top, where the opening of the pocket might get heavier use), and then continue  along the bottom until I get to the next pocket seam.

After the pockets are sewn on, place the (backside) edges of one side of the bag together, pin, and sew.  Next, open the seams and tack down those seam edges.

Do the same to the other side, then flatten the bottom edges and sew those closed.


Using the remaining fabric, decide on the length of fabric straps.  If you’re short on fabric, use the rectangular scrap fabric to make fabric tabs for four “d” rings, and buy handles at a craft shop.  (I used scraps, and made a fabric tab to hold a brass ring in the finished bag photo.)

By the way, I cut the quilted interfacing for the handle straps short on both ends–it makes it easier to sew the finished straps into three layers of fabric–plus trim!

Next, sew the interfacing all around the outer shell (this step can be done to either the inner or outer shell), and then pin and sew sides as before, with seams facing inside and tacked down.  Sew the bottom edges together next.  At this point, I turned over and tacked down the top edges, pinned piping trim and handles on (centered, about six inches strap-to-strap on either side).

Sew it all down–it’ll make it easier to handle once you join the inner and outer shells.

Insert the inner shell into the outer, and find the bottom corners, fitting tightly together and pinning, then sew them down before moving on, to fit and pin the top of the bag.  Before sewing the tops together, add any extras–like a key tag.  Then sew around the top several times.  Use a pattern or simply follow previous seams, but do get right to the top under the trim at least once, so the inner and outer bag edges meet well.

  Last, a stabilizing bottom pad can really help.  For this bag, I’ve cut out the same interior fabric, folded it to the size of the interior of the bottom, sewn it–leaving an opening–and inserted a cut-to-size piece of styrofoam.  (I got the end of a roll from a pool supply company for this purpose, but you can use any stiff, recycled material that will hold its shape and stand up to hand washing.  I’ve used cut, stained, and varnished veneer hardwood in the past, and skipped the fabric cover.)  In this case, I slipped the styrofoam in its pouch, sewed down the edges all around, and then sewed a tacking cross in the center of the finished support.

Total time:  about six to eight hours.


Seafoam Medium Market Bag

And if You Love the Sea, as I Love the Sea…

sunrise.jpg…I know you love the color blue, in all its variations!

Here’s an unfinished seascape start, but for this painting season I’m planning portraits.  I haven’t done children’s figures for years, so I’m excited–even if I have to wait for better weather (and finished tax work) to begin!

Ta-da!  Here’s my version of a tax sale:  I’ll pay US shipping!  These paintings are ready to varnish, available in May, 2018, with or without their frames, which are sold at cost.


Calm, Stand of the Tide

“Calm, Stand of the Tide,” St. George Island, FL, oil on canvas, 20×16, $345.88 framed (inc. IN sales tax)

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“Another Day at the Beach,” began en plein air at Ft Myers Beach, FL;  finished St George Island, FL, oil on canvas, 20×20, $408.95 framed (inc. IN sales tax)


Fish House

“Fish House,” Point House Trail, Upper Captiva, oil on canvas, 20×24, $308.16 framed (inc. IN sales tax).  It has an ivory and gold-tipped frame now, photo available.


Wild Weather

“Wild Weather,” Escondido Lane, Upper Captiva, oil on canvas, 20×24, $308.16 framed (inc. IN sales tax)

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“Spring Break Beach,” St George Island, FL, oil on canvas, 9×12, $164.17 (inc. IN sales tax)

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“Reclaiming the Beach,” Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, 12×12, $200.56 (inc. IN sales tax)

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“Sea Grapes,” Escondido Lane, Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, free trim frame, $322.60 (inc. IN sales tax)

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“Public Access, 10th & W Gorrie, St George Island, FL, oil on canvas, 12×12, $200.56 (inc. IN sales tax)


“Cold Spell, Fog off Captiva,” oil on canvas, 15×30, $322.60, free trim frame (inc. IN sales tax)

My blog has been used most often to celebrate the art of dozens of people since I started writing it, or to offer free plans for art supplies.  This time I’m showing my own recent work.  Please feel free to comment!

Oil paintings (and a silk scarf) completed by end of summer, 2016


Silk seascape scarf printed from image of “Northwest Front,” $40 including tax.

Paintings are not shown actual size;  please note a title and find its sizing, location, and price (with or without its frame) in the list below.


Bouquet of Locusts


Running down to the River


Lake Papakeechie from the Cloud


Flood Tide



Blue Squall


Spring Cleaning @ Hill House


Above the Frog Pond @ TC Steele


Wild Weather


Fish House, Point House Trail


Neap Tide one of two studies


Neap Tide one of two studies


View of Useppa


Cold Spell, Fog off Captiva


Ebb Tide


Dry Wash Stream


Cold Front


Autumn Winery

All paintings were started en plein air, and finished in studio.  Pricing is pre-professional, ranging from seventy-five cents per square inch for small paintings to 50 cents per sq. in. for ex-large.

All frames are at my cost (using discounts);  please feel free to decline the frame, and to find one that suits you and your home better!

Land and Seascapes
Above the Frog Pond, TC Steele, Brown County, IN, oil on canvas, 12″ x 12,” framed:  $199.41;  unframed:  $115.56.  Tax included.

Blue Squall, Crystal Beach, TX, oil on canvas, 11″ x 14,” framed:  $211.22;  unframed, $123.59.  Tax included.

Bouquet of Locusts, oil on canvas, Owen County, IN, 28.5″ x 26.5,” framed:  $990.58;  unframed, $762.70.  Tax included.

Fish House, Point House Tr., Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, 20″ x 24,” framed:  $552.12;  unframed, $308.16.  Tax included.

Flood Tide, Port Aransas, TX (Mustang Island), oil on canvas, 11″ x 14,” framed:  $205.11;  unframed, $123.59.  Tax included.

Spring Cleaning @ the Hill House, Owen County, IN, oil on canvas, 24″ x 24,” framed:  $477.11;  unframed, $369.79.  Tax included.

Running down to the River Bottom, oil on canvas, Owen County, IN, 36″ x 44,” framed:  $990.58;  unframed, $762.70.  Tax included.

Lake Papakeechie from the Cloud, Kosciusko County, IN, oil on canvas, 20″ x 20,” framed: $427.71;  unframed:  286.76.  Tax included.

Mustang Island Cold Front, Port Aransas, TX, oil on canvas, 16″ x 20,” framed:  $264.41;  unframed:  $229.41.  Tax included.

Ebb Tide, Port Aransas, TX, oil on canvas, 11″ x 14,” framed:  $205.11;  unframed:  $123.59.  Tax included.

Autumn Winery, Owen County, IN, oil on canvas, 24″ x 24,” framed:  $477.11;  unframed:  $369.79.  Tax included.

Dry Wash Stream, Owen County, IN, oil on canvas, 10″ x 12,” framed:  $162.12;  unframed:  $96.30.  Tax included.

Wild Weather, Escondido Lane, Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, 20″ x 24,” framed:  $544.07;  unframed:  $308.16.  Tax included.

Cold Spell, Fog off Captiva, Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, 15″ x 30,” framed/unframed:  $322.61.  Tax included.

View of Useppa, End of Sol Vista Lane, Upper Captiva, FL, oil on canvas, 20″ x 16,” framed/unframed:  $229.41.  Tax included.

Neap Tide 1 & Neap Tide 2, Port Aransas, TX, oil on panel, 8″ x 10,” framed:  $82.20;  unframed:  $64.20.  Tax included.

All paintings will be given a week’s trial in your home.  No reproductions, please;  I retain my “reproductive rights.”  🙂  

Each oil painting is original work by Laura Lynn leffers.




































For Carver John Fisher, the Stone Sings

John Fisher, photo credit Amy Brier

( John Fisher, photo credit Amy Brier

Following is the full, original article submitted to the Herald Times newspaper;  first printed Sunday, May 17, 2015 in Bloomington, Indiana.

Five hundred years after Michelangelo recognized the beauty of the local marble, the townspeople in Pietrasanto, Italy, call John Fisher “Michelangelo’s brother.” He’s known, too, as Giovanni Pescatore, having earned his Italian name and credentials over decades of carving their statuary stone.

He returns to Pietrasanto every year, most often for ten or twelve weeks. He and his wife, Sandy Oppenheimer, lived twenty years and raised a daughter there, and John’s paintings and sculptures are scattered around the community and up into the foothills of the marble mountains. He is not alone. There are more carvers per square kilometer in Pietrasanto and nearby Carrara, it is said, than anywhere else on earth.

The village lies at the foot of the Apuan Alps on coastal, northern Tuscany. Here, he’s an artigianni, an artisan. When he arrives from the States, people come out of their shops to greet and welcome him, asking when they can get together for a meal. This year’s commission will see him laboring daily from early mornings until dark, as is the case each year. The time flies by, he says.

He begins by taking off thirty percent of the stone’s weight, removing as much as a ton of waste in a day using drills, wedges, a hammer. His strokes are varied but balanced, his thoughts are on composition, not images. “I am putting movement into the block,” he said, “and counter movements, accents, big strokes, medium strokes, and small strokes. It is like music—you must have a variety of notes.”

And then, when the stone sings to him, John Fisher is ready to listen.  He’s been expecting it, working to free that very voice, to let it guide his hand. He dances to its tune. He goes from “direct” carving to “profile” carving, moving five degrees at a time, finding his profile line and moving on again. Soon, he’s within a half-inch of finalizing the image within the stone, having used the skills his work demands: courage, passion, and patience.

John Fisher’s portfolio is eclectic. He works limestone as well as marble and wood, and paints in all media. He’s cast bronze, forged steel, blown glass, thrown pottery, and done etchings on copper and zinc. He’s built a house and a 30-ton, double-masted, ketch-rigged sailboat.

His journey to master carving status has been a freeform art.  Begun on the West Coast in his rebellious youth, flowing through his “back door” college days in Berkeley—until somebody discovered that he wasn’t actually registered—to a penknife and chisel sculpture on the East Coast made from a discarded block but providing his first art sale, the early days led him well.

In those years, Fisher found a master and mentor in Tom Blodgett, then an art professor at Lane Community College, in Eugene, Oregon.  John educated himself, and made a scanty living painting billboards on both the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. He lived in trees and, when he’d saved enough, he went to Italy and brought home two pieces of marble.

His path has been an organic one, the ancient concepts of design learned the hard way, by experience: composition, profile, balance, and the rule of three—an artistic concept similar to the golden ratio, or divine proportion.  Fisher’s students gain those skills, but are counseled as well to release their fear, to know that the unknown will become known. They learn to remove stone both safely and effectively and, more importantly, to find their own visions, to let the stone sing, to reveal itself. His approach is liberating;  It means there are no mistakes.

Symposium site, photo credit Pamela Keech

Symposium site, photo credit Pamela Keech

Bill Holladay, president of the board for the Indiana Limestone Symposium, took John’s figure carving workshop in 2014.  “It was a radically different approach,” he said, “scary, exhilarating, and inspiring, all at the same time.  He’s returning to teach this year’s advanced figure course in the third week, June 21-27, and I plan to register.”

“Creativity is a battle,” Fisher said. “It can drive you on past your bedtime, past your meal time. You have to be in the studio in order for the magic to happen, and you have to be working every day. You have to do that so you are always ready for the gifts when they come. They will come when you least expect them.

“I want to teach people to set the stage for creativity, learn the skills to take advantage of the gifts when they appear, to know when to stop, and when to push on. Composition is king, and no amount of good work can save a bad composition.  We train every day to be ready to act when the time comes. If you are not afraid then you are not going far enough out on the limb.”

Fisher’s carving master, Tom Blodgett, taught him to embrace creative danger.   “He believed that the creative act is one of desperation,” Fisher said. “It’s logical—if you’re doing something you know how to do, you can be very good at it, but you’re just repeating something you have learned before. However, when you really go out on a limb, when you have no solutions, when you are about to fail, that’s when adrenaline kicks in, and you pull out the creative act. Putting the whole project in jeopardy is the best way to make it a success.

“I’ll take a stone I’ve spent months to obtain and thousands of dollars to purchase, then blast into it using heavy machines with no idea what I am doing. Or paint a scene in the last light of day, knowing that the light is changing every minute. That is the way it feels to create.

“There is a time toward the end when you can slow down, and carefully carve or paint the finishing touches. But the bulk of the time spent creating is a near mortal battle. It’s why creativity equals desperation.”

And then, the stone sings.

Additional Information:

John Fisher has taught at the Northwest Stone Symposium, Stone Fest, and the California Sculpture Symposium, as well as for the Indiana Limestone Symposium. His numerous on-site carving projects—a kind of sculptural performance art—are community pitch-ins, with audience suggestions considered in every phase from concept through execution. He’s slated for an on-site carving project June 14th through the 20th, with proceeds to benefit the Symposium.

Visit for information on June’s Limestone Symposium schedule. Instruction is offered by the week or by the day to beginners through advanced carvers; children ten years of age or older may carve by the day.

By Laura Lynn Leffers, for the Indiana Limestone Symposium

How to make a wooden wet painting carrier

selfie with homemade wet painting box

selfie with homemade wet painting box

DIY:  Wet Painting Carrier

I needed a wet painting box that would travel long distance.  Inside a small boat, on a trailer, bouncing down a thousand miles of highway.  …And I wanted it to survive the trip.

Sure, there are commercial wet painting carriers available, and plans shared on the Internet for cardboard varieties.  Most of them, though, are for canvas panels, and I prefer the gallery wrapped, heavy-duty duck, inch-and-a-half thick canvases.

IMG_1113So, I made my own.  They’re the four boxes sitting on top of my first try, a lovely lightweight shelving frame that would have fit perfectly between the bench seats on the boat.  I was finishing it, when my husband asked, “Will that fit through the door?”


Back to the DIY Project (no need to dwell):  For panels, wood supports, or thinner canvases, you can adjust the spacing on the dividing rails to the width of your support–but do add a bit of wiggle room.

Here’s how:  Select Your Size of Canvas, and decide how many you’ll wantstructure_2_close.up to carry on a field trip;  for the inch-and-a-half thick type, a box made of 6″ wide boards (which are not really six inches wide but we’re not in charge of that) will hold three canvases each.

Procure Your Lumber (the small box shown on top is made entirely out of scrap 1×6 pine boards, but the larger boxes are made from lighter weight, half-inch thick poplar boards and quarter-inch oak panels).

Measure and Mark.  I kept it simple (nobody comes around, asking me for dovetails).  Both top and bottom were the width of the canvas plus a quarter-inch tolerance (or a bit less).  Both sides were the height of the canvas plus the depth of the top and bottom boards.

I cut the wood and held the side board against the bottom board on a flat surface, drilled holes, and screwed each into the edge of the bottom board.

Dividers.  I used 99-cent, quarter-inch basswood from Michaels to basswood_divider_close.upmake rails along both sides.  There was just enough room for my three inch-and-a-half deep canvases, three basswood rails, and a bare eighth-inch extra in each space.

I plan to lay the boxes flat in storage, so wet paintings will be “shelved” facing up, and that extra eighth-inch might minimize smearing or sticking on the long trips home.

basswood_dividerMark, Glue, and Tack Dividers.  I started by laying the first basswood rail along an edge of each side.  This rail prevents the top of the wet painting in that slot from touching the inside of the completed box.

Next, I measured and marked, and glued and tacked in the two remaining rails.

Once the other side had its matching rails, I tested the rail spacing, and let it dry poplar_large_lay.inovernight.



Only the two side boards received basswood rails.


Paneling is where I really slipped up, as you’ll see.  Theoretically, it’s simple:  cut your quarter-inch thin panels the same length, and your box will be square as long as your corners are square.

Ummm…  Maybe it was that quarter-inch tolerance, under “Measure and Mark?”

Moving on, it turns out that leftover window oops_wet_painting_carrierblind parts–the unused bits of wood squirreled away when a blind is cut down for a short window–make nice shims.  One could, uh, use shims.

Glue and tack as needed to correct any mis-steps which might cause one canvas to want to fall upon its neighbor.

If this is the case, use the slimmest possible shims.  …And, before the glue dries, make sure the canvases still fit in their slots.  Better yet, re-think my quarter-inch tolerance!

IMG_1109Finishing with stain and varnish was important to me because of the abuse I expect to heap upon these boxes.

I used leftover porcelain knobs from a kitchen project, plastic cable carriers as turnbuckles for the lids, and sewed some old webbing to brass D-rings to serve as straps.  For salt-water painting sites, I bought stainless steel screw-in tie-downs and stainless steel screws, but the SS snap hooks for the straps are costly.  I bought only one set;  the others are plated.  Brass snap hooks would work around salt water, but the hardware stores in my area are selling bronze in place of brass.  I’ll expect to replace the plated hardware.

Travel safe!

How to Make a Painting Pouch


Make your own painting pouches for presentations, transportation, or just for storing the frames you got on sale (the ones for those paintings you haven’t yet finished).

I happen to have fabric remnants because I made market bags (like this), once upon a time.  But you can repurpose old drapes, Red.Indianuse an old quilt–if you have one you don’t mind cutting–or recycle a clean but beat-up canvas drop-cloth.

I had fabric remnants, and also some leftover, thick foam underlayment (the padding used under pool liners), and used it for all but one of the painting pouches shown above.  The foam-less one is the pink-flamingo-on-black pouch in front, on the floor in the photo.  It was made with a quilted lining instead, which makes it more washable but also more difficult to slide a framed painting inside.

The foam interfacing I use here isn’t necessary, but it does add a level of protection and this is a way to repurpose it.  (Do you know somebody who installs pools?)  You’ll want good, heavy fabric like cotton duck, if you eliminate the foam interfacing.

Measure your painting side-to-side, and add the depth of both sides;  do the same for the top and bottom.  Add a couple inches (at least) for seams to those figures, and find two pieces of fabric long enough, when folded in half, to fulfill those measurements and give you an inner and outer finished “bag.”

Here are a series of photos and simple instructions:

You’ll need an inner bag and an outer bag.  Cut two pieces of fabric;  fold both in half.  Cut corners; reserve corner pieces.

I cut these corners a bit larger because I wanted to cut the scraps in half lengthwise, and use the eight pieces for four handle straps.  Unless you have a very large frame, cut a smaller rectangle, an inch tall and an inch and a half wide (allowing for the side seams).  That one-inch cut upward translates into  the “floor” of the finished painting pouch–which, since the fabric is folded, already gives you a two-inch width.  After it’s sewn, you’ll be adding another half-inch, at least.

cornersCut a length of interfacing to a bit less than the length of the (unfolded) fabric;  fold in half and lay over your folded fabric.  Use clothespins to hold the fold temporarily.  Then cut the foam interfacing corners a bit larger than the fabric corners, to allow for seams (the interfacing will sit between two finished “bags”).

foam corner cuts


The hard part is over.  Or not.  Oops…



foam interfacingAfter the mistakes are corrected…mistake

(I had to remove an inch, and re-do.  I remembered that the foam sits inside two “bags,” and I had to allow for seams.)




Sew the side seamstack seam

Tack (sew down) the selvages.


corner reverseOnce both the inner and outer pouches are side-seamed and tacked, fold the four corners and sew each.

Turn the outer pouch right-side out.match corners

Fit inner (in this case, black) pouch into the outer (flowered) pouch, finding the corners and pinning them together.

pin in & out together(At this step, if your painting pouch isn’t huge, you can insert the foam interfacing into the outer pouch, insert the inner pouch, and then proceed with the corner seam.  For a larger pouch, it’s easier to sew the corners together without all that bulky foam already inside.)

corner seamSew the corners of the inner and outer pouches together.



fit foam 1Insert the foam interfacing, wrestling it into place between the inner and pouter foam 2

For this project, I wanted to use some unused purse handles from my bag making days, so I made straps from the fabric corners, which will be sewn into the top of the pouch.

strapsFabric straps are more practical, though, and easily made from leftovers of the same heavy fabric used for the painting pouch.  The large red painting pouch in the introductory photo uses the same duck canvas fabric for its handles, cut and sewn into two 32″ straps.  I rolled and sewed down the center of each strap for a comfortable grip handle, and set them into the top about eight inches apart.

These straps are set in about six inches apart at center, and the handle strapsinner and outer pouches are pinned together, starting at the side seams and working around the top.  Ease the interfacing down as you go, so it sits snugly between its fabric pouches.

Since I used snap hooks in this project (with visions of metal scratching a framed painting), I tucked the edge of the outer pouch deeper in before pinning everything together, allowing the inner pouch to come up higher.

finished bagLast step:  sew the inner and outer pouches together.  Sew it twice. Use a decorative stitch even, but do tack down the handle straps!

Seriously, a half-hour of cutting  and two hours of sewing.  I think it took longer to explain than to make!