Studio Life & Covid-19 Part 5

It is almost a month and a half now since Covid-19 was declared a global Pandemic and our lives here in North America went topsy turvy. I think a lot of people are appreciating the warmer weather, but not sure how they are going to enjoy it this summer. All of our plans are under revision now.

Amidst a whole raft of summer event cancellations, it was announced this week that the Calgary Exhibition & Stampede is officially cancelled for 2020. I anticipated this, however I know that the organizers, competitors, exhibitors and vendors were all hoping that somehow it could go ahead. The event brings millions of visitors from all over the globe to Calgary, and generates multi-millions of dollars of revenue. There are visual artists in the Artist’s Studios section for whom substantial incomes are made from just this one 10 day event. I am not one of them; this would have been just my second year participating in the commissioned sales section. However I will miss the chance to connect with art lovers and build audience while making a few sales and engaging in the lively spirit Stampede brings to the city. If you are interested in buying one of the paintings I would have shown, contact me. They are 6″ x 8″ oil on canvas and priced at 295 CAD each.

We are a little over a week into the pre-sale on originals and limited edition prints of a selection of the Covid-19 drawings. I am really appreciative of the people who have already purchased originals and prints. Each person who purchases during the pre-sale will also receive an 11 x 17 portfolio of the first 19 for Covid-19 Sketchbook drawings. Be sure to order before the pre-sale closes on May 11th to get that.

I am amazed that, even though times are uncertain, so many people are supporting the studio. Because of this, I am making a few videos about my experience making art during Covid-19. The first one (below) was posted to my Youtube channel yesterday, and asks the question: can an art business grow even during Covid-19? I answer that question with my story (spoiler, the answer is yes).

I am still thinking about why this is possible; it makes no logical sense to me. I have always been told that art is a luxury, and the first thing to be sacrificed during times of insecurity. Perhaps art is not such a luxury after all? Perhaps it serves some vital purpose? My next week video will be about lessons I learned making art during Covid-19. If I have any insights to that question by then, I will share them in that video. If you are curious to see that video be sure to subscribe to my Youtube channel so you don’t miss it. I appreciate your subscriptions as, should one day I reach 1000 subscribers (I’m a long way from that yet), Youtube will actually send a little money my way when people view my videos. It is a great way to support my studio at no additional cost.

Okay, how about we all get some sun with a socially distanced walk or some yard work? I think I will be cleaning and setting up my patio after my work is done today. Thanks for reading, see you next week!

Thoughts on Over-painting (oil)

I just didn’t have a passion for the project anymore. The inspiration did not work out and I was not stubborn enough to invest more time in making it work. So wasteful to abandon high quality* canvases in this time of thoughtful consumption, so I repainted them with fresh inspiration.

Of course there are considerations for overpainting canvases: Is the original completely dry? If you’re considering immediately repainting a painting you will have to worry about the dry rates of the underlying layers, oil and solvent contents of those layers and how it will effect the new painting. Is the painting fresh enough that you could just scrape the whole thing back? If not I would strongly suggest waiting until the painting is completely dry so at least you know what you have to deal with. These canvases were about 6 or 7 months dry, with only the initial layers done. I was concerned that since those layers had quite a lot of solvent they might unevenly draw down the oils from the new painting to make sunken patches that didn’t match well, so I started by wiping down and oiling them out with a mixture of oil and an earth colour to simultaneously tone down the existing painting without completely eradicating it. Then I left them to dry another 3 or 4 months before working on them, once I was satisfied that the oil/earth mixture had an even finish.

Why didn’t I just use a solid colour base after oiling to make a clean slate? I can’t give you a good answer to that. Options? Challenge? I wanted to give myself the option of incorporating some of the initial painting into this one if it seemed like an interesting effect once I was into the painting. I liked the challenge of visualizing the new painting while dealing with the interference of the old one. You may want to use a more solid base colour after oiling out so you can visualize your image without interference. In the finished paintings you can barely see evidence of the originals anyway, so while it was challenging to work this way, pushing me to work with thicker more opaque layers, and therefore allowing for fewer new layers – if we are following Fat over Lean and all that – there was no end result aesthetic justification for doing it that way.

Speaking of thickness, these canvases were originally thinly painted as only the initial layers were completed prior to repainting, but you’ll also want to consider the texture of the existing painting. A highly textured surface means you’ll be seeing outlines beneath the new painting, I have not found sanding to be practical in eliminating anything more than the most minor bumps, drips or traces of stray brush hairs, so you will want to think creatively about how those textural elements can be incorporated in the new composition. A portrait may not be a good candidate for repainting as a landscape, as the shape of the head neck and shoulders may still be evident, but on the other hand, it could force some creative acknowledgement of that element into the landscape. I have had some good effects with textured surfaces, but the painting has to pretty much be designed for or respond to the surface in terms not only of composition, but materials used in the original painting; will new paint absorb or adhere unevenly to the old paint, how dry is the existing painting, and is the support stable (*generally speaking, don’t bother trying to rescue a cheap canvas, use it for a craft or experiment but nothing you are serious about)?

So how about you, what are your experiences and concerns with over-painting canvases?

A Better Butter Tart (painting).

So This is what happens when an initial idea doesn’t pan out on a canvas. Originally I was going to do a series of small paintings with a recipe card for pancakes overlaid with agricultural and ingredient images. It just wasn’t working, so I abandoned the set after the base sketches were done, and decided to re-use the canvas for these lovely little food still life paintings depicting Canadian heritage treats with tea, books and various items. So here is the first of three of these original oil paintings shown being painted directly over the original sketch. Speed-painting and time-lapse painting video’s of the other two paintings will be uploaded to YouTube in March and May, so if you would like to see them as well you should definitely subscribe to my YouTube channel.

One Life Fine Art Studio Channel UP NOW:

My Youtube Channel is up and I have a favour to ask: I have polls on each of my first 3 video’s to ask what you would like to see in future videos? Please go to the channel, watch a video and answer the poll when it pops up. If you don’t have a youtube account that’s Ok, you can leave your comments here for me instead. Thanks a bunch for helping! Here is a “time lapse” from the Sunflower Project: