This week there were a lot of exciting new developments on my mural project. I got a frame for my canvas, pictures of more dancers for my subject matter, and the funding for my supplies. The frame came from the scene shop, where Teacher Sarah Sullivan just happened to have an extra 6′ x 12′ frame lying around, to get more pictures, I visited elements rehearsal on Wednesday night, and for the funding I met with Ted Lutkus in the finance department and found a fund from the endowment that the money could come from. All of this was really exciting, but the most fun part about this week was the actual act of stretching and priming the canvas.
I love stretching canvas. I love it so much. Most artists don’t like stretching canvas very much because it is labor intensive and can be really painful for your hands (sometimes they even bleed). Because the canvas needs to be so tight over the frame, there is a lot of pulling and stapling that needs to happen to the canvas, and the canvas is very rough and thick and hard to deal with. My hands are covered in calluses, and the skin on my fingertips is peeling off, but I couldn’t be happier. I think the reason why I love to stretch canvas so much is because it is hard, and it is also something that real artists do. Most professional artists don’t buy their canvas in stores. For anyone interested, here is a more in depth history of canvas painting and preparing canvas. After I stretched it I then had to gesso the canvas (gesso is essentially canvas primer that makes the canvas stiffer, and ensures that the paint doesn’t bleed through or rot the canvas). It took me 4 hours and half a gallon of gesso to cover the entire thing, but now I am ready to paint.
For most people, a giant blank canvas is probably not all that exciting, but for me it’s one of the best things in the world.
It’s a bit difficult to tell in the pictures, but the canvas is 6 feet by 12 feet. In other words, it’s rather large
The next thing I want to talk about in this post is the inspiration for my design (which I posted a more finished version of last week). As I was preparing for this project over the summer, I was thinking about Westtown and my experience here, and how I could create a piece that I felt would be representative of the space and the person I have become. My first thought was of trees, because in my mind trees and nature and landscapes are very Westtownian images for me. However, I don’t like painting landscapes all that much (I’m much more fascinated by the figure) and so I knew I had to include people in some way. I came to the idea of dancers because for me dancers have a kind of magic and power that I don’t know how to express through anything else. I liked the idea of dancers turning into trees because I felt it would convey the kind of transformation and development that I feel is a pivotal part of my Westtown experience. The trees eventually morphed into vines and flowers, and the landscape morphed into color, but the driving idea behind it all remains the same.