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Sunday, March 20, 2011

This blog has moved sites.

As of this date, March 20, 2011 my blog has moved to my website at this link:

http://www.nancyreyner.com/blog/

Please visit it for all new articles.

Thanks!

Nancy Reyner

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shipping Unstretched Paintings in Tubes

An artist just emailed me a question about shipping her acrylic paintings, highly textured, and large sized (5’ x 8’) from California to India, and wanted to save costs by shipping them unstretched rolled in tubes.

Rolling and shipping in tubes will not hurt the paintings, but its best if you don’t fold them. Since her shortest measurement was 5’, here was my advice:

(1) take all the paintings off the stretchers, and place one on top of the other using plastic in between them. DO NOT use glycine as that will stick to acrylic (not to oil and that's why shippers often mistakenly use it on acrylic) and do not use wax paper. The best plastic to use are the rolls of painter's plastic (its officially called HDPE plastic but often is not labeled like that) you find in home improvement stores. The plastic is usually cloudy whitish - not clear - and comes in thicknesses like 4 ml or 6 ml. You can use any thickness, but probably a 3 or 4 ml is best. Stack the canvases so that the painted side faces down towards the floor. You can also use garbage bags, cutting them at their edges to create a big sheet of plastic from them.

(2) Get 2 cardboard mailing tubes - one that is larger than 5' and is very wide in diameter - probably something around 12" or more. This will be the outer mailing tube. Then get another tube that is 5 ' in length but narrower in diameter, probably around 6" in diameter. This will be your inner tube. Place the inner tube on top of the stack of canvases which are now facing the floor, near to an edge. Now roll the canvases altogether around this "inner" tube so that the painted images are facing outwards from the tube. There should already be plastic between each of the images. Once they are all one big roll, wrap it all in plastic and tape it closed. Place this into the larger outer mailing tube.

Tip: If you just buy the inner tube first, then roll your canvases around it, you can measure the final diameter to make sure your outer tube is the right size.

Another tip: Measurements are different between the US and India. If you plan to restretch the canvases when you arrive there, you may not be able to purchase stretchers the correct size. You can either hang the canvases tapestry style without stretcher bars, or you will have to ship another tube with just the stretcher bars. If you plan well, measure ahead of time, and can get hold of very wide shipping tubes, you may be able to pack the stretcher bars inside the inner tube.

And another tip: If you need to fold them because you can't ship a 5' tube, then fold them around some bubble wrap so that the fold isn't pressed down creating an indent. Make sure the bubble wrap is on the back not the front of the image, or you may get bubble impressions on your paintings.

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Balancing Happiness Over Painting

A painter friend, thinking about her next career moves, just wrote me this morning saying,

“I thought about what my priorities were, and decided that now is not the right time for really pushing for sales. I am at a really happy place for developing my art and style, accumulating inventory, and enjoying a good balance between work, family, and me time. Does that sound not very ambitious? It is kind of silly, but I am really loving my life right now, so I thought I just keep things going a bit until something is nagging at me to do otherwise. What do you think?”

Impressed by her honesty and boldness I replied, “I do not think of you as unambitious, in fact quite the opposite. Your decisions are right on regarding timing. I don't know if you remember, but I have taken this entire year of 2011 for a sabbatical. I tell everyone it’s to paint, but actually its more about finding a new balance in my life. This month I have discovered new ways to be happy, and relax, and have not painted much. Making great work is always a self-reflection. If we are not happy, or are bored, this is what the painting will reveal, no matter what subject matter we paint, what materials we use, and how technically proficient we are. Painting is a mirror of our soul. And good painting allows the viewer to go deeper into a higher vibration. Loving life, as you put it, is the priority for everything, especially great art. So....we are on the same track and I applaud you for not only doing what you feel is right, but admitting your choices in a society that usually encourages production over happiness.”

So, what do you think?

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mounting Paper onto Canvas

Often artists will create a drawing or sketch on paper, and then want to adhere it to a stretched canvas to create a stronger support, or continue adding subsequent layers of paint. Here below is a method I learned from painter/instructor David True, who taught a workshop I attended years ago at Anderson Ranch.

Start with a canvas that is stretched and primed with gesso so it isn't too absorbent. It should be the same size as the paper drawing, and the paper drawing should have extra border room so about 1/2" of its edges all around can be chopped off later. Apply a new layer of gesso (not diluted with water) onto the canvas. While the gesso is still wet place the paper over it. Put a piece of tissue or clean sheet of paper over the drawing so you can smooth it out without smearing the drawing. Using your hands smooth the paper into the wet gesso starting from the center and moving outwards towards the edges. The paper will stretch as it gets wet from the gesso, and will move over the edges, so you end up losing about 1/2" of the drawing along the borders. When it is all smooth, let it dry. After it's dry you can easily trim the excess paper by running a single edge blade along the outside edges. This technique gives a very clean edge so you can't tell the paper has been glued.

Extra Tips: place masonite or something under the canvas to prop it up and give it some stability so that when you rub the paper to smooth it out it won’t sink down in the center with the canvas. Another tip: the most important thing is that the gesso is still wet everywhere when you put the paper drawing over it. If the gesso dries in spots you will get wrinkles there. When you are working with a large size, or in a dry or hot climate, and you have difficulty doing this technique keeping the gesso wet, you can first apply a gloss medium or gel to the primed canvas. When the gloss layer dries, the surface is less absorbent, and then when the gesso is applied it will stay wet longer.

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Friday, December 17, 2010

Using Acrylic with Other Mediums

If you use mediums other than acrylic, such as oil, watercolor or gouache, you can still use acrylic to add new effects to your work. Acrylic pastes or gels can be applied as a first layer to any substrate, such as canvas, wood or cardboard to create a new surface ground. A surface ground changes the way paint gets accepted onto the surface. First decide whether you want the ground surface to be absorbent or non-absorbent. Absorbent surfaces are usually matte and will create a soft muted effect, with the paint sinking into the surface. While non-absorbent ground surfaces are usually glossy, and the paint will glide and settle on the top. Both types of surfaces are valid. Once the acrylic gel or paste is applied let it dry overnight. Now paint with your favorite medium but heavily dilute with the appropriate solvent to allow the ground to take effect. For example, if you want to paint with oil, heavily thin the oil paint color with turpentine or mineral spirits so the oil paint becomes runny. Now apply it to the acrylic ground. Scrub the paint in with rags, wipe it off in places, try brushes and knives to get a variety of effects.

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Sunday, December 5, 2010

Variety is the Spice of Art

How often do we change our art, style or process? Is it better for artists to cultivate variety or consistency? Galleries tend to encourage artists to keep creating the same thing (that sells) over and over again. While artists, in general, like variety to stay motivated and inspired.

There are two schools of thought here. The first is consistency. Consistency in our work allows us to keep experimenting on one theme and to go deeper. Chuck Close is my favorite role model for working an entire lifetime on one theme – close up portraits. The span he covers with this one main theme is incredible. Click on this wikipedia link for more on him and his work.

Variety, however, is an important ingredient in our work, helping to keep our ideas fresh (see my previous post July 22, 2010 “Keeping Your Ideas Fresh”) and other important aspects of being an artist. If we are so consistent that our work is repetitive, we do not grow as artists and the work will eventually weaken. Yet, when we are so insistent on variety – the “never repeat yourself” syndrome, then we may flit around from style to style and never allow ourselves to take a concept deeper, to a more personal level, and to a more meaningful one .

The answer is always that tricky term “balance”, and the key to successful personal balancing is paying attention to how we feel. As our needs change, our feelings will let us know. Sometimes we may need to allow variety and experimentation to take us out of a rut, and re-energize our work. At other times we may hit on something that really gets us excited. These are the times to stretch 10-15 canvases all at once and create a series to see how far we can take the one idea.

Here is an interesting take on our ability for variety, taken from a quote from Robert Anton Wilson in his book “Prometheus Rising” (New Falcon Publications, 1983, p.125). Just prior to this, Wilson describes the human survival instincts that involve both consistency and variety;

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, design a building, conn a ship, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve an equation, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Art is a Gift

I was watching a dancer friend of mine perform a very demanding and complex dance piece. I remembered how hard she worked on it, for over a year, practicing every day until she got it perfect. You could tell the audience was riveted. The technique was perfect. The passion she expressed while dancing it connected everyone in the audience to her and towards an inner focus of appreciation. It made me think about this performance as a gift. For surely one who works so hard to create such perfection is in actuality creating a gift. She will never see her performance. And once the performance is over nothing remains but the memory. It was for the audience and therefore created as a gift.

It made me think about my art medium – painting, and how this plays a part in our process as an artist. Perhaps a work of art is successful or has the chance to be very powerful when the artist is so obsessed in the making, that the artist loses a piece of themselves in the artwork. This art then is a precious gift or offering, and equipped with an important ingredient – a piece of the artist themselves.

And so the opposite may be true as well. If the art is made for vanity alone, to show off the artist’s skill as a means of ego enhancement, or for profit and sales alone, then it may lose the opportunity to contain this “essence of artist”, and to be a gift that carries that awe, the mystery of human life itself.

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