An artist friend remarked that she was surprised I had never stretched my own canvas before because it was such a basic skill of our craft, like a chef making a roux. That's a negative aspect of not having attended art school… the most basic skills that every freshman art student learns have sometimes been totally foreign to me. Stretching canvases. Underpainting. Focal lightness. All of these basic principals have to be self-taught through trial and error (and error, and more error, etc.) which is helpful to unique growth but also immensely frustrating. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing okay as it is, but sometimes I wonder if I should seek out classes or go back to school to ensure I'm creating my best possible work. (Are you an artist? Are you self-taught, or did you go to school for art/become an apprentice? How much do you feel you learned in school and how much was natural discovery during/after? I'm interested in hearing different perspectives on this issue.)
I'm all for trying and failing and learning from it because that's generally how unique, personal techniques are discovered, but I felt really lucky to have connected with the artist who took the reins on this giant, heavy canvas…. there turned out to be a few special tricks to stretching a piece this big, and with a project of this magnitude and cost there was no room for error. Thanks Ashley!
After priming, I glued a layer of paper, sanded it, glued another and started my outline. Colored blocks frame where the different paper materials will go and the general lightness and darkness of the piece. This painting will be a little less rustic and distressed than some of my work, so lots of painters tape was used to help create straight lines and angles.
The last golden light of the day beaming over Fenway and onto my East wall tells me it's time to call it quits.. look how dark it gets! I used to be a night painter, but the quality of the daylight here is so incredible that I try to use every minute of it that I can. Once the sun starts to set the light changes so dramatically that good colors look 'off' and bad colors look right and mistakes are easily made, so I have to put down my brushes for the day.
Because this is a private commission I can only share a little of it, but I'm excited to finish it, freight it (!) and show you the hanging piece. This is the biggest single canvas I've ever worked on and it's been a bit challenging to navigate such a big space, compared to a smaller painting that my eyes can take in all together… I have a new respect for artists that paint on a big scale because it truly involves a lot of stepping back and forth ;)
And just for fun, Chubby Boots in our living room hammock. What a mush, right? He loves it!