Slowly, but with certainty, I have a few larger works getting underway. They are paintings I have been able to undertake thanks to having a workspace to stretch out in. The past few weeks I have been pushing my sketching to formulate and prepare what these paintings will be. There is part of me that is outright annoyed with how slow the process has been, but then I feel things are getting ready to explode. The sketches come together and soon the drawing and painting begins in earnest.
At present, as you can see, I am in the middle of stretching a few of these canvases. The bigger the canvases, of course the harder the labor is. Despite my employing canvas pliers and moving slowly with it, I always end up with sore hands afterward. Its almost like I am doing exercises to intentionally bring on arthritis.
Honestly, there is a part of me that really enjoys putting together new canvases. The labor of doing this straightforward process, is a moment of preparation. Its the basic work, the foundation that allows the creative energies to ferment, foment, and focus. I could wax on and on about how the work of stretching a canvas connects the painters actions back to basics – its all very grounding.
The truth though is that stretching these canvases now, I am feeling more and more that I should just be buying them pre-stretched and primed. Just to get on with it all. I think there is desire among painters to appeal to a imagined purity in which the painter alone struggles with her materials until overcoming and finding a path to a completed work. Its a kind of machismo I guess, in which you only get the full points if you struggle to get everything done yourself. For a long time I have bought into the idea, but lately not so much.
Its worth pointing out that my doing this has been in part motivated by a desire for a certain kind of canvas. One with thick edges that allow for a specific relationship between the work and the wall. I see the thick edges as a way to separate the canvas as an art object/entity, giving it stronger presence in a space and making it its own identity. This, rather than just creating some window to some somewhere.
I think I will be reevaluating how valuable I think that is. There certainly are options to deal with it differently. Its definitely a balance to focus on going forward. And I certainly won’t be hiring a helper to help me stretch canvas anytime soon, so the appeal of having things pre-made is certainly calling me.
The works, as always, remain in process.