Saturday, September 21, 2013

Making and Recycling Art Panels

Art supplies are expensive: oil paints, brushes, canvas and  frames. I look for ways to keep the quality up, and expenses down in order to be able to afford the very best products. I also want to paint like I am rich - uninhibited! - and feel it is better to paint with abandon than to paint uptight and worried about the cost of supplies.

Recycling your bad paintings:

“What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” - Vincent van Gogh

Sometimes paintings fail. Recycling panels is easy. I destroy bad paintings by covering them up in order to re-use or "recycle" the canvas. Every painting simply does not work out... and sometimes I wipe the paint off immediately (recommended) and just start over. At other times I set them aside and later decide that the painting is not making me feel good or is not something that I want to keep or offer for sale.

 “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” - Vincent van  Gogh

Some artist friends of mine choose to have a ritual burning of their "bad" paintings, and I guess that is good for the psyche too. It feels good to "clean out the studio" and not have a lot of bad paintings around to remind you of past failures. Seems all artists have them, no matter the level of the artist!

Today I am recycling my canvases using Gamblin Ground. These are what is left of about 25 "bad" paintings that I did that were completely dried,  Today Jackie and I sanded them down slightly and I covered them up with white ground in order to re-use the canvas panel.

Step 1- Sanding.
Step 2 Covering with Gamblin Ground.
Step 3 Covering the paintings that will never see the light of day again! Whew! That feels good! 

Step 4. Lay the new white panels out to dry.


Step 5 - A blank canvas again!(Note: Sometimes it is rough, but that is okay with some paintings!)

 Making Linen Panels

Now for how to make some panels from scratch...
Some of my panels are bought already made just for the convenience.  I love Ray Mar, Source Tek and other brands of quality linen pre-made products but I don't always buy them because Jackie makes most of mine for me in his shop. It saves a lot of money.
To make our own panels we buy Claessens Belgium Linen #66 single primed that is great for landscape paintings. It is in 82 inch rolls from Jerry's Artorama.

The cost: An 82" long roll has 6 yards on it, which converts to over 117 sq ft. and it costs around $300 so that means a 12x12 section costs about $3.00 each. But of course we make  various sized panels that he cuts and uses Miracle Muck to adhere them to 1/4" tempered  hardboard- smooth or sealed on both sides for small panels. It is sometimes referred to as Masonite. Miracle Muck is about $14 a liter. A 4'x8' sheet only costs about $14!  So a  homemade 12x12 linen on panel costs around $3.50!

How we make new linen panels:
Cover in Miracle Muck and smooth out with a sponge brush:

Covered completely in Miricle Muck and ready for the linen:

Linen is cut approx 1/4- 1/2 inch larger than each side of the panel. Shown is a 9x12 panel and the linen was cut larger to allow for shrinkage. The linen is placed with the white side (paint surface) down and raw linen up: Then roll on the back of the hardboard....
and then roll the front -linen side up- to remove air bubbles and smooth the surface.
 Then the wet panels are weighted down while they dry

Once they are dry they are trimmed from the back side with a Fisker round roller blade on a mat.

That's it! New canvases!

Thanks and please feel free to ask questions or offer your own ideas in the comments section below! 
Happy fearless painting, everybody! 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Southern Culture and Art

Some of the South Mississippi Art Association painters at my workshop this weekend in Hattiesburg, MS.

Art as a metaphor:

Art is a metaphor for me, so I try to be honest with my work, wanting to describe my life though my paintings.  It seems pretty intuitive to do this. My life seems pretty ordinary to me and I enjoy describing it in my landscape paintings. An example of that is in the finished painting that I did mostly in plein air out in our garden. I ended up naming the painting,"Coon Trap".   You can read about it here.

 Soviet impressionists seemed to do that and they are some of my favorite artists. An architect at my show this weekend said the Russian impressionist's influence was apparent in some of my work and that I would probably enjoy reading the Russian art theory. I have a big book of the Soviet impressionists work but mainly I just look at the pictures. I may actually read it now to see if it describes a deeper theory behind it...besides the well know government imposed propagandized art censorship in the history of the art there. But I hope I find a deeper meaning because I like theory. I like finding interrelationships and connections between of things.

And speaking of interrelationships:

The night before my show opened at A Gallery, there was another art show opening in town- actually right across the street at Oddfellows Gallery. Half of that show was probably classified as non-objective work. I look closely at work in shows and this work was by the USM Art department faculty. I really enjoyed meeting them and seeing the show. But while I was browsing over the work, an astute young guy asked me if I was an artist.  I answered that yes- and that I was mostly a "landscape" painter.
He asked me a question that taught me a lot about my own work:
"Do you consider yourself and American landscape painter?" 
I nodded, "Yeah... Pretty much."
Then I stood there thinking about it, and spoke up hesitantly not wanting to "peg" myself into a specific region, but felt the need to better describe my work,   "Well, I'm mostly a 'southern landscape painter'.. and then just being me, I blurted out the simple truth:  
"Honestly, a lot of my work is just painting things from my backyard!"
So I asked, "What do you do?"   
He lifted his nose into the air and said he was a Cultural Anthropologist
Feeling much better about my work, I said, "Then you should go see my show... It's all about cultural anthropology!

The American Anthropological Association defines Sociocultural anthropologists this way:
 They "examine social patterns and practices across cultures, with a special interest in how people live in particular places and how they organize, govern, and create meaning."

Should I start describing myself a "Cultural Anthropological Artist? ...It has a nice ring to it!

Getting them straight...Justin Albert hanging paintings for my show at AGallery in Hattiesburg. The show includes the painting, "Coon Trap" and it runs through mid October. All paintings ©2013 Dot Courson.

"Coon Trap" Oil, 30x30 ©2013 Dot Courson
This painting is a strong cultural anthropological statement about sustenance and the southern life: a garden with a live trap to save the sweetcorn crop from raccoons.