This past week has been a logistic nightmare and frankly it’s hard to think of a time when I have been more stressed over the business side of art. I have been running around like a madwoman trying to get a high resolution scan of a painting that has been licensed to a big client at a huge size, 10x12ft. The reason this has been so stressful is because it has been difficult to find someone who can deliver this size scan. Adding to this stress, the client who purchased the original painting needs it by next week and I have to ship across the country this week.
I hate this feeling. The pit in my stomach of potentially disappointing clients that I highly value. I like to joke that there are no “art emergencies” because usually buying art is a slow process and no one needs a painting immediately. This is not the case in this one circumstance. This is a quickly swirling vortex of buyers, third parties, and me in the middle waiting for and relying on others to get back to me and deliver on promises they made me too.
I don’t know what is going to happen yet. But I’m doing the best I can to get everyone what they were promised. By the end of the week I’m hoping to have a high enough resolution file for my licensee client. Whether or not I have the high resolution file or not I will definitely have shipped the original across the country. Only time will tell if all the logistics will fall into place.
But here is what I know; I’m doing the best I can with the time constraints, the third parties involved, and the factors outside of my control. I know the world will keep spinning and I know I’m way off course of why I do this.
I’m not here, doing this thing I love to cause stress in my life or others. In fact, the opposite is true, my goal with all of my works is to bring peace, beauty and light, in all interactions, and I will strive to do that in all interactions and as far as I am in control of circumstances.
I have faith that God will work all the spinning wheels and parts out for the best and in a way that will bless others and I hope that blesses and brings me peace too. But for now, I am opening my hand and letting go of what I can’t control.
Every time I stretch canvas and show sneak peeks of the process on Instagram I get a ton of questions. Most of the questions pertain to what I’m doing, or why I do things a certain way. Most of the questions revolve around very Googleable (it’s a word, don’t even pretend it’s not) questions. Questions that either Google can answer for you, or that I have already answered in this Resources post.
Occasionally though I will get questions that I really like. For example….
WHY, would you stretch your own canvas when you can buy stretched canvases at an art supply store?
The main reason is size. When I get into a really big size canvases most art supply stores do not sell the exact dimensions I need, or I’d have to order it online and pay an exorbitant amount in shipping for a pre-stretched piece. The main reason I like to stretch pieces is because of the manhandling. Stretching a big painting usually takes a few hours from the assembling the frame, to measuring and cutting the canvas, to actually stapling and drilling the thing together. The canvas and I have already gone through battle together before I’ve even started painting, and I won. It helps me relax when I’m painting knowing that I’ve already conquered the canvas on some level. And even though after stretching I’m usually left with aching hands, a sore neck and back and blisters on my fingers, it’s worth it knowing that I showed that canvas boss, and I’m going to do it again when I paint it.
Don’t you have to be strong to stretch canvas?
I like to think so. I used to not be able to stretch my own canvas and always enlisted the help of my husband because I was afraid I would get too many wrinkles, or that I wouldn’t pull tight enough. All that is lies, I can stretch a piece on my own without assistance because yes I am strong enough and you probably are too. It’s more about technique than strength.
What are the benefits of stretching vs. buying pre-stretched?
There are several benefits. I can order stretcher bars for ANY SIZE CANVAS and stretch it. The customization is unmatched. You can really do whatever size you want. You cannot order whatever size you want pre-stretched. Not every shape and size exists unless you stretch it yourself. Stretching your own canvas also means that you can pick the materials, primed or raw canvas, regular wooden bars or steel bars etc… The options and accessories are endless and you can’t get that with store bought. Another benefit of stretching your own canvas is you can prep the bars properly.
Do I still buy pre-stretched canvas? Absolutely if there is a sale going on or if the piece I’m making is a standard size that is small. I usually buy small canvases pre-stretched. But for the bigger stuff I like to do it myself. Where do I get my materials?
SO MUCH. That is the short, nondescript answer. A new collection is mostly a lot of decision making . Here is what it takes to put together a new collection.
My collections tend to be very separate from each other. You can tell the artwork is by me, but the colors and/or the moods are very, very different. Before I begin a new work, I must have an idea. For me, a collection is usually inspired by one of several things, namely: music (a particular song will stick to me and I have to keep painting till I get it out), personal life events (i.e. The death of a loved one, a chronic stressed relationship, or something that continually frustrates me), a memory (or a series of memories tied together and the feelings they evoke), a philosophy or idea I’m trying to perpetuate.
One of those topics will bubble up and I need to deal with it. Whatever the inspiration, I always ask myself three questions. “Where is the beauty here?” “How can I find peace in this?” “How can I bless others with this?”
Once I’ve answered those questions I pick how many pieces should be in the series. Sometimes a series is as few as 5 pieces, sometimes it is as many as 30. It really all depends on how much I need to express, how I think they will be received, and if they will be in a show or not.
Now that I have selected the theme, I choose how many pieces I will paint. I usually have to order materials. With the exception of smaller works, I stretch many of my own paintings. Depending on how many works are in a collection, cost for materials range anywhere from $150 – sometimes $3,500. It really just depends on what is needed and how much gold I have to order.
When everything is ordered, all the canvases are stretched, I play with my palette. I always know what colors will be involved in the pieces and map out in my mind which pieces will get different treatments, different amounts of each color. The main thing to keep in mind when working with color is asking yourself, “Does this add to or detract from the underlying mood and message?” I mix almost all of my colors from primary colors with the exception of metallic paints.
Painting a whole collection again greatly varies depending on the size of the pieces and the number of works in the collection. A series can take anywhere from 2-3 months to several years.
When the pieces are finished they must be titled, priced out, photographed, photographed in rooms, uploaded to the store, have a description written for each piece and have a general description written for the series as a whole. I pick titles that coincide with the original theme, things I associate with that theme.
Creating a new collection has never taken me any less than 3 months. The average amount of time and money it takes for a new collection is 6 months and about $1500.
That’s what it takes to put together a new collection. If you have any specific questions feel free to comment below or send me an email, and as always if you learned something or liked this post please share it with your friends.
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