Friday, April 12, 2013

The Process

The process of making art is as infinitely varied as the art itself. Every artist has their own way of finding inspiration and transforming it creatively. That's the magic spark, the beginning. From that moment of scintillating insight, a series of actions follows that will eventually produce a piece of art - be it a painting or a theater production of whatever the end result is desired.

Many people are not aware of the tremendous work the process often entails. It can be a long road from idea to completion. There is the preparation of materials which includes lots of trial and error in first choosing the supplies that suits the artist and at the best price. Highest quality paint is not cheap.

I prefer to stretch my own canvas simply because commercial pre-stretched canvas is awful. We begin with a textured 11 or 12 ounce canvas that has adequate tooth to hold my thick paint application. I say "we" because my husband Michael has blessedly taken over stretching duties at this point. He pulls the canvas over wooden strips, or stretcher bars and staples it in the back leaving the sides of the canvas smooth (known as a gallery wrap). Once he's finished, I begin applying the first of three coats of gesso creating a barrier between the paint and raw canvas. Coat one is mixed with a bit of water to penetrate the canvas fibers and given a day to dry. Coat two is mixed with an acrylic medium to provide flexibility and given another day to dry. Before applying coat three, I lightly sand the surface to create a bit of tooth and then apply gesso full strength. After another day of drying the canvas is ready for a ground (a neutral wash of color to eliminate the stark whiteness). Yet another day to dry and then I'm finally ready to paint! It's a labor of love...really... but you get, um, the picture.

Before beginning the painting - and this is assuming the artist is clear about what they want to express - there is usually some preliminary sketching. Sometimes a lot of sketching. Perhaps the artist requires photographic material or is compelled to research the subject that further demands untold hours at the library or on the internet. When finally proceeding into art-making, that process often takes on a life of its own that doesn't always cooperate thus requiring the artist to make time-consuming changes and other adjustments throughout.

My point is that making art is diligent work. A beautiful finished piece is a joy to behold but know that it doesn't gracefully manifest by divine intervention as some have naively intimated. Yes, we've all heard it. This is about process and I've haven't even mentioned the time (years) and effort (extraordinary) to develop skills and techniques that continues throughout the career of an artist. Please consider this before gasping at the price of an artwork next time you're in a gallery.

With a heavenly sponsored talent (!),

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