I wish I could make the idea of building canvas stretchers sexy, but it is just some milled lumber. There is something special about building things yourself though. In this case building the skeleton of the skin that is the canvas that is almost never seen or thought of. Eight 45 degree cuts attached to make perfect 90 degree angles. A few pieces of strait lumber to keep the rectangle from flexing, so when the canvas is attached it will always be flush when hung. Simple ideas but sometimes not easy to complete.
I have been building variations of painting surfaces for 20 years or so now. The first semester at school, A painting instructor of mine at The School of the Art Institute approached me while in a painting studio and I think he asked why I was working so small. As an art student I was pretty broke and working larger at that time was not in my budget. He suggested I go down to the wood shop at the school and start making my own canvas stretchers and stretch my own, as it would be more cost effective and I could start working larger. A semester later I was asked to apply for the advanced painting program by the head of the painting department. The rest is history as they say.
More that being cost effective, it became this integral part of how I make work. It makes the painting process deeper for me. I am not just slapping some paint on something I picked up at the art store. I was part of the birth of the surface that I will then lovingly apply paint, building composition and having a connection with the end result.
Here is a fun little project I did and made a time lapse of it. I will be making a tutorial on drawing with graphite with this footage as well soon. Check back in in a week or so and I should have it ready. Please go to my YouTube page and follow me if you have a YouTube account. Or if you have anything you would like to see me make or have a tutorial idea leave a comment. Thanks again!!!
I posted last week about an inspirational moment eighteen years ago that has influenced the way I make my paintings. In another serendipitous moment, I got an email Friday for an artist presentation by none other than Homare Ikeda, the same artist I had just reminisced about. And the presentation was going to happen the following day, Saturday, at Meininger Art Materials.
The event was part of a series called Demo & Dialogue, organized by the Art Students League of Denver. The Art Students League was there for me in my youth when I had limited access to art and art instruction.
The idea behind demo and dialogue is open up the artist’s process to the audience by having the art work on a piece. Ikeda gave us an open invitation to interrupt with questions as he worked on two large (and several small) works.
“On the island I am from they had no sense of what art was. I’m lucky I didn’t have a preconceived notion of what art was. Before I came to the US, I studied traditional painting so I’m aware of how I use my brush. I will hold with my left hand or use two brushes, that creates negative space.” -Ikeda
I was struck by how similar his thoughts about process and his approach to making resonated with my own. Ikeda approaches his art with openness and flexibilty, focusing on the process with little interest in the product. He is able to speak about his process and work with depth and humbleness.
“I’m not trying to make a painting therefore finishing is not my goal, the process is something that excites me. I have many paintings that come down from one show and I keep painting it. I know what color theory is but at the same time I just grab whatever I can grab. I’m looking for surprises. In my mind I ask, ‘Should I keep this or do I change it.’ I have options.”
“Painting is honesty. If the artist is honest it’s a good painting. Getting honesty is very hard to deal with. Painting is making me more than I am making a painting. ”
The demo wrapped up after close to 2 hours and Ikeda stayed answering questions and greeting the crowd. I waited to approach him and thank him for sharing his craft and thoughts. Last week I had shared my blog post with him and his response in person was as gracious as his email had been. It may not surprise many these days as Denver emerges onto the national scene, but we have long had a vibrant art scene including artists like Ikeda.