Welcome back to another Studio Session. Today I'll share a look at three recent canvases I built, stretched, gessoed, and began painting on. Building canvases is a process that I've slowly understood and still have yet to perfect. The time and cost of building my own stretchers saves me a large sum of money that can go to oil paint and framing!
Here's what things looked like when I started gessoing them. I have three canvases at the following sizes 36" x 36", 40" x 40", 48" x 36". I made a fourth at 12" x 24" but haven't decided what to paint on it, so it's sitting against the wall until summoned.
You can see the three large canvases drying in between coats of gesso here. Typically oil painters try to apply 2-3 coats of gesso before using oil mediums. The 5 gallon bucket is filled with water to rinse my gesso brush which otherwise would dry out and become completely useless. I have two separate gallons of gesso one is the student grade and the other is artist. I bought the artist gallon first a year ago while working in Stevens Point from Blick. As I acquired new materials here I decided to try out the student version, partly because it's half as expensive. In the end it's another lesson where you get what you pay for. The student version feels half as thick so each coat is too thin to get away with 2 for your canvases. Now that I've brought back my other gallon from WI I can use the artist gesso as my final and 3rd coat before sanding.
After all of the layers of gesso dried I sanded down the lumps and high spots. Usually if I tone a surface I stick to light blueish grays or browns but decided to go with an indian red on this day.
The images I want to paint on these canvases were designed on my laptop with autodesk sketchbook and illustration software. I took different scanned images, chosen from my grandmother's photo albums, and digitally painted over them to create new compositions.
Here's an example of one that I've started painting -
Autodesk has worked wonderfully for this purpose because it allows me the freedom and flexibility to make quick decisions and mistakes before using the images on such large surfaces. Part of me will miss the discovery of decisions I make digitally once I start to reference the comp on canvas. But as of right now this process feels right to me.
To see some of those choices I make watch this time lapse video I captured on my laptop:
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Over the last few weeks I've made significant progress on these new canvases take a look!
I'm excited to see where the paintings develop and how their purpose reveals themselves to me as I paint. One of the most important rewards for me when I paint is what I learn while I work. The title and definition of a painting often take most of the process for me to understand.
So far one of the similarities between the digital compositions is that they're all images relating to family parties and gatherings. I think the definition of the American family has changed in various ways since when these images were taken. Also, because I don't know the history of the moments very clearly I have to assume the dialogue through body language. Due to this part of the process I'm able to fabricate my own moments and context for the imagery, hopefully making some of them more current/relevant for people my own age. Then again, there are certain phases of human development that are always relevant for people (ex. puberty, motherhood, being a student, getting old)
Thanks for reading and leave a comment on what part of this studio session you enjoyed the most!