Thursday, May 28, 2009

My Plot to Take Over the World (With Art)

I haven't written in a while, but with good cause-- I've been in the studio working and not at a computer more than necessary. (My studio is internet free, which is kind of nice to be dis-connected and the old-fashioned type of "wireless" for most of the day.)

My open studio went very well and I made some cash. I then purchased a large quantity of art supplies for my upcoming paintings-- enough for 12 large scale paintings. I have been building and prepping canvases-- which I do in bulk all at once because I HATE IT. Really. Messy, time consuming, and at the end of the day I usually am sore as hell from pulling and yanking canvas tight or kneeling on the floor spreading oil ground. I prepare my canvases very meticulously because it is the base of everything and I cannot change it later so I must get it right from the start.

I don't like pre-prepared canvases. Why?

1. Gesso is crappy
2. They are not stretched well and usually have ripples
3. They are not archival
4. They are supremely expensive

I will use them occasionally for sketches, but only small canvases.

When I make my own canvases I:

1. Have control of the materials (deep stretchers, heavy canvas, sizing, oil ground)
2. Save money (I spent $300 for 12 canvases prepped to my needs whereas 12 pre-made canvases of the same size pre-prepped with non-archival gesso would cost over a grand.)
3. Don't have canvases that look machine made.

The only downside to making my own canvases is that it takes weeks and weeks (allowing for labor, drying time between stages.) I am a very fast and prolific artist generally-- and the canvas prepping is what slows me down. I would probably do double or triple the large scale paintings if I didn't have to spend a month here and there wrapped up in canvas prep.

I have been thinking lately how I could work around this. I didn't have as much issue with it before with a day job. But when I prep canvases I put in 4-8 hr days in the studio, so theoretically I could work on other paintings simultaneously. Obstacles to that are:

1. With all my prepped canvases in my studio space leaning against walls and furniture, there is no room left to just paint.
2. I would need canvases that are already ready to work on-- and I run short on these quickly.
3. Sometimes I have to bribe myself to use smelly oil ground which means I put in 4-6 hours on a coat and then go to the movies as a reward.

But I have accepted that I am just prepping paintings at this point and I am rolling with it. Currently I am waiting for my last coat the dry on my canvases. I was only able to prep 5 to start with, due to space limitations. I am switching to another studio space in the same building that will help mildly with this issue, and I am glad I have 2 easels now so I can keep multiple projects going to keep up with my energy.

I won't be able to paint on these canvases until a week from tomorrow, allowing for the recommended drying time of the ground. So in the meantime I am planning my giant paintings. I took a day off from the studio on Monday and went to the Titian/Tintoretto/Veronese Venice exhibit at the MFA and I was BLOWN AWAY. I will definitely going back a couple times to fully absorb it. But I took many ideas from that show and I am busily incorporating it into my next series. I sketch all my paintings in photoshop to start with-- using photos and the brush tool (with my new Wacom Tablet.) Lately my photoshop sketches have gotten more complex-- probably compositing 10-30 images per piece. I have been taking most of my own photos and since I have more free time-- I have been traveling around the Boston area to take pictures of elements I need.

Also in the meantime, I have started some small portraits. They are experimental and I don't know how they will turn out. I am playing with multiple angles and making a double-exposure or look of movement.

Also I am trying to work on my portrait painting skills. I am good at painting figures-- but when it comes to portraits I think I have actually regressed and now I am not as good at capturing the essence of a face. It will look like a face-- just not the one I am working from. Since it is the face that initially compelled me to draw-- I am returning to that. I am also better at drawing than painting (when it comes to portraiture) so I want to work on my technique and get more comfortable. I am thinking I should do some quick sketches (on canvas board or something cheap and quick) to help me loosen up and not be so precious and stiff.

These are images of portraits taht are in progress. This is just the initial pass with the basic composition and outline of the image. After this I will start filling in the form and the color and hope it comes together. I've already wiped out both of these 4 times and started over.

Anyway, the whole point of all this work on canvases and portraits is that I have decided I will make this my most productive art year. I want to have a solid body of new work by December-- I'm already excited about how new surroundings and situation is giving me tons of inspiration.