March 28, 2012

Back in the saddle

What a start to the day. I'm slaving away doing catch up. While I was under my rock things began to pile up. I've got all sorts of exciting new opportunities and developments on the horizon.  Back to the subjects of quality and integrity.... if you are going to do something you might as well do it right and as best as you can the first time.

I am part of a show at the house gallery titled versus. 
here's the rundown: basically 2 artists share a canvas and create two characters in conflict. I've partnered up with Ray Kruger my room mate, making it extremely convenient)
The canvas was dropped off to us. Unfortunately it needed a lot of work to be adequate for us to spend hours painting on. It had a very rough surface, with a few coats of gesso sprayed on it. I could sand it down and apply some more coats to make a better ground on which to paint.
There were some tears in the canvas, it appeared to have been stretched in a rush. Small staples had been used so I began to weight the option of pulling every single one out, repainting the canvas and restricting the canvas over the frame again. but there there was the frame......
Here was the clincher in this adventure for me. The canvas had been stretched over a frame without a beveled edge. This means the canvas was loose and had an edge all the way around in contact with the support material. Basically, it had become glued to the lumber all the way around. This does not fair well for quality or longevity. It need a beveled edge before we can do anything.
I had to painstakingly remove each and every staple to remove the canvas so that I can give the softwood lumber frame to Ray so he can use a router a bevel on it. I do have concerns abut the frame. Softwood is not the most ideal lumber for building stretcher frames, it tends to warp, especially if it is cut from cheap stock like 2x4 or if there are changes in humidity and temperature. what might be good for inexpensive furniture is not for fine art. Plywood laminates are much better choice if cost is an issue. Mainly because of the criss crossing grain pattern offers strength and stability. I got all the staples out and the canvas off the frame so I could take it back home for some woodworking.
Ray-zor cut the bevel and I took the frame back to the studio. I decided to use some of my higher quality heavier stock canvas since we had already gone thru this much work repairing the canvas. The original piece was thin and torn and pilled.
This shot shows the beveled edge some staples that were added to further stabilize the corner seams. I noticed the lumber was quite torqued so with proper stretching my fear was that it might pull the canvas apart under the tension. also some of the corners did not line up.
Here is the backside as I get close to folding the corners. The pieces of lumber didn't quite line up so I added more staples of a thicker gauge to hold it together better.
After some time spent, a labor of love........ I get the canvas stretched over the frame. I hammered in any staples that did not go deep enough into the wood and now it is ready for the next stage= priming.
Alongside some canvases I stretched prior, is the canvas with the first oat of gesso applied. I used what I had left in the bucket a purple tinted one. You will notice that it sits in the rear of the photo flat on the ground, not that flat,  the frame still appears to have torqued wood. After another coat or two of gesso dries, I will re-assess whether or not it has settled, or whether it news repair or replacement. My fingers are crossed, I want to get started painting this guy;)

March 27, 2012

Oh no, I haven't given up....

I may have received a letter from Calgary2012 stating they cannot fund my residency, but like the man of steel, I won't be giving up any time soon.
I saw this while taking out the garbage, it is kind of how I feel.

I may have to give in at times however, like I did this week......... to illness. I gave in to malady, malaise and melancholy.  It felt like all my steam had been taken away. Until this morning, my general positive and hopeful outlook had been depleted. that's how i know i'm beginning to feel better, the veil has been lifted and I feel a bit more like my "normal' self.

This past week has been an experience of regathering and assessing myself. It gave me the opportunity for quiet solitude in reflection. I need this time alone, for listening to my woes and allowing me to just be me. My daily wish was to just feel better. No time in the studio. A bunch of things beginning to pile up. There was a litany of Week-end opportunities I completely missed out on........ however there is always a bright side, I had lots of time to watch movies:)

I reconnected with my vulnerability watching dramas and chick flicks. and yes, on occasion... I cried.  its a normal part of life. I think society has made it very wrong....cowboys don't cry. A man showing his vulnerability is NOT a sign of weakness, brokenness or neurosis. it shows he has a real beauty and hope for real humanity. This is fearlessness. This is manly.

March 17, 2012

One louder!

Im still at it.
In order to get a velvety finish on my support ground, I paint a third coat of tinted gesso onto my stretched canvases. After the first layer I sand with 80 - 100 grit sandpaper to take down any lumps and imperfections. After the second layer I use 150 - 200grit  sandpaper and go higher after the third layer for a super smooth and soft surface to paint.
 The required coats of gesso to ensure proper coverage is two. I do three. I go one louder!
I am a firm believer that hard work pays off. Even if it is a bit messy. This is the time not to cut corners and definitely the part to the pride in. Craftsmanship is key!

 If I want my work to outlast me and be a legacy, and if I am going to spend hundreds of hours making something beautiful, I want it to be the best quality it can be.
Thats the BATISTA promise:
Integrity & Quality you can rely on.

March 14, 2012

Labor of Love

I love a quality built support. Its worth the effort.

Spending all that time on a creative act in intense concentration honing the paint through skillful means on a less than adequate foundation makes no sense to me.  And so .... I spend another full day in the studio stretching and priming canvases. My studio is clad in off white surfaces awaiting an explosion of creative energy.
This was a 48" X 72" frame that I peeled damaged canvas off of, then began the arduous task of stretching 15 oz on it.  This is where good quality canvas pliers come in handy and they help against fatigue.  
My trusty gesso brush and a bucket of gesso I watered down and added pigment to.

The next stage is brushing the first coating of high quality gesso. I like to add a bit of pigment, in this case burnt sienna to the batch so that it is easy to tell if the previous layer as been fully covered or if you have sanded too deeply between layers, doing this helps to ensures proper coverage.

Priming the first layer on a bunch of surfaces. These standard 18" X 24" portrait frames are going to be part of my upcoming series of & deadly sins. The next studio visit I will sand each surface and apply yet another layer of tinted gesso.
Meanwhile I began reworking my "screaming Indian" piece, reminding me how much fun it is to play with oils again ;) Heres a peek.

March 11, 2012

Staples: A love/hate relationship

So in keeping with the flames of passion for creativity raging......... I meet in battle in a love/hate relationship with my constant foe. Staples!

I'm in the studio and so proud of all the white surface I have hung, I decide after a little re-arranging that I might as well and get started on the work I know I am going to have to do in the near future anyhow. Some of the discount canvases I have purchased in the past were mainly for the support/lumber.  I had to pull out each and every staple in order to stretch my much thicker and higher quality canvas over them.
I loosen each with a heckles knife blade. Then pull them with pliers and place them in a silver goblet so I don't wind up stepping on them later.  Here is a pile of cheap 18 X24" pine stretchers from Michaels. Everyone was punctured so I cut off the tho canvas to be replaced by 15 Oz, triple gessoed stretched by me quality/
Here are just a few done by the end of the day, waiting to be primed.

March 10, 2012


I spent ten hours straight in the studio yesterday.

Here are some tools of the race. The painters pyramids were in my Christmas stocking two years ago from my mom (Santa). They have come in very handy.  The bright red ones were used in painting the red frame.
I had to re-arrange and organize the space for the new series of work I'll be making.  I had all the canvases rom the previous gesso session to sand. First with 150 grit, followed by 220 grit. Afterward, on each canvas, I spritzed them down with water and removed all the fine dust particles with a damp rag. You would be surprised to see how much goop comes off. The canvases are silky smooth, a real joy to touch.
I hung up the two large 5' X 5" gessoed canvases in the corner and worked out from there.  I plan on setting up some time lapse photography of the work in progress. My old laptop is set up on the shelf and KT lent me her Canon SLR for the time being.  The red rectangle on the canvas on the floor is a remnant of where the frame painting took place.

March 9, 2012

C'mon baby light my fire....

Burn baby burn!

I aced my bar tending exam, then taught my advanced animation class then put in 3 hours applying Gesso to my canvases before heading home. for some reason I had a Burning Man type dram with some of my favourite burners, I was making them flaming shots.  regardless, instead of urning the midnight oil, I woke up before 7am, for no good reason. So here I am back at it, thats the light of the fire.

I put the newly painted red frame on Taming the Tiger. I think it looks awesome. This coloured frame opened up a whole new world of possibilities. This is going to look phenomenal in the collectors house and be a bright, happy focal point on her wall. I'm stoked!
I sanded my surfaces with 220 grit sandpaper for a velvety finish. Then I spritzed all of them down with water and removed all the fine particulates in order to prepare them for the final coat of Gesso.The previous layer of Gesso was colour tinted with a wrap grey/purple. It looked awesome and is definitely a colour I would like to work on top of. I had to do another layer however. I needed the third layer to have horizontal brush strokes to ensure complete coverage. I added yellow to one batch and burnt umber to another.
I am excited to go into the study and begin new work.  I have a few old things to work on too. The Burnt umber tint on these new canvases warms up the studio. Upon return home I noticed a bit of Gesso got on my suit, its ruined ;P

Paint gets everywhere, such is life.

March 8, 2012

Allowing things to happen

Things happen for a reason. Other things happen because you make them. Fact is: I have the fire again!

To reference Crowley "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law". Or maybe better to quote Yoda: " Do or do not, there is no try", or Nike: Just do it! At any rate, life, especially finances at times gets me down, the questionable state of the world eats at me, competition and criticism chops me down at the knees and destroys my best laid foundation. You've got to grab yourself by the scruff and pick yourself up. It may be hard, being a "responsible adult" can sometimes really bite. That is a very good reason to go out and play then, now isn't it?!

Aside: for the past two weeks I've been taking a bar tending course that I bought on Groupon in the fall. As many know, I'm in a constant state of learning. My room mate says I collect hobbies. At any rate, this guy got 95% on his written and practical exam today. Put that one in my back pocket. I am happy that it is over on to other new and exciting horizons!

It has been a tough week, one of monumental realizations that it's time to pull up my pants 'cause there is no rest for the wicked. Especially those of use who have to make a living and still follow their dream to make art. What a bitch;P

After teaching my ani
Ation class, I'll head to the studio to sand and gesso some more.


March 4, 2012

Priming with a bit of purple pigment

I'm a busy bunny, but when I have free time I don't waste it.

I should have been studying for my bar tending exam, instead I put in some time priming near a dozen canvases with gesso with a bit of purple pigment added to it.  I also got a can of bright red enamel spray paint to jazz up the frame for the "Taming the Tiger" canvas. I think it is going to look super good when finished and framed!
Gesso with purple pigment added.  Having a little pigment added allows me to tell the difference between the layers and which direction the strokes go between sanding. I laid it on thick with a brush. It took a number of hours, two of the canvases are 5' X 5'.

To the top right of this picture you can see my first framing job with the ikea frames. "Blissful Union" just happens to fit particularly well with the matte that is included with the frame.  Its not easy keeping the glass dust ad speck free or mounting the image in the matte. It will take some experience to master this skill.  For the remaining prints and frames I will need some additional supplies and will need to have the mattes cut. I am planing on doing it when I have my first bit of free time, hopefully as soon as next week-end.

March 2, 2012

Kinda boring but exciting at the same time

So I got up extra early this morning.  My list of things to do is long.

Before bed last night, after Bar tending class and following  teaching my extended studies in animation class at Quickdraw...... I did some work on my flashcards to memorize over 90 drink recipes for my bar tending course. I have one week left and the exam is next week, there is so much to remember!

Showing off, a three martini waterfall pour.

Other things on the go, not including chores like laundry etc:

I am cutting out my dragon painting in photoshop and doing some clean up on it so that the Taoist Tai Chi Society can use it as an image to print on their Awareness Day t-shirts.

I made an application to the City of Calgary Public Arts program to exhibit my work in the windows by the C-trains downtown.

I can't wait to get things accomplished and then get some time in at my studio.
Wish me luck;)