“Studio Work” sounds more creative than it turns out to be. It’s catching up on all the things that are required to make paintings presentable to the public. Framing is one kind of studio work, perhaps the easiest, because I tend to use standard-sized canvases and off-the-shelf frames.
But of course, there are those pieces that start as experiments but take on a life of their own. Because they weren’t considered seriously at the beginning, subsequent “finishing” can a dicey affair. Take, for example, the Back Wall Paintings from the Basin (Montana) in Winter, 2007-08, series:
The paintings, pinned to the wall and being about 8 feet wide total, are meant to be displayed together, but separate. But they are on unstretched canvas, convenient for painting and hauling cross country but not presentable. They needed some kind of support and “framing”.
So last summer, I got birch plywood cut to fit (I thought) each separate canvas. I found out how to make archival glue and learned that I should place a layer of archival paper between the painting and the wood.The plywood lay on a table (flat so it wouldn’t warp) from last summer until this week (well, it’s only a month or two into the next summer, right?).
Knowing it was beyond time and I wanted my workspace in the basement back, I took a deep breath and started the real work. To be on the safe side, I took one of the smallest pieces and tried out the process. Immediately it was clear that the boards were cut to size but the canvas shrank when the rice glue was used. The practice piece proved that the gluing process could be reversed, since I thought I might be able to fudge and so glued the canvas to the slightly big board. Fudging didn’t work, but the canvas, although dried tight, could be removed with water and gentle lifting. Whew!
The boards were recut by a generous neighbor. I got the archival paper glued to the boards and I pressed them (using gallon jugs of water) for a couple of days to make sure the adherence was good. So I was ready, after only two years, to actually put one of the Back Wall canvases on a support and hang it for real.
Alas, I forgot that the sides of the plywood, to be anything like respectable,needed a coat of paint. So back to clearing off the workspace, putting away the rice paste, and painting the sides of the papered plywood.
So there they sit, waiting for the worktable to be cleared of the other studio work I started while they dried — the stretching of one of the big Death Valley paintings from February. Stay tuned…. June