Creative Space and Time

Here we are, 5 months into the year and I have finally been able to offer this… my first post of 2018!  I could spend the next paragraph expressing how disappointed I am with myself for not keeping up with my blog or producing more artwork – for which there would be no blog.  That would be a waste of time and keystrokes.  Besides, I have become much less tolerant of complaints and excuses – including my own.  I have recently undergone a major life transition.  This transition, albeit gradual and costly, has allowed me to eliminate one of my biggest excuses for not making art.

In previous posts, I lamented about not having a dedicated creative space.  This was not entirely true.  I did have a bit of space in which to paint and draw.  I simply didn’t like that space.  I didn’t feel comfortable there.  And if I’m not comfortable, I’m not creative!  So, I decided to invest in my comfort/creativity by renting a small apartment.  Obviously an apartment is far from an investment unless you’re the lessee.  But, the purpose of this apartment is to serve as a quiet space where I can feel comfortable and creative enough to produce wonderful artwork.  In fact, I refer to it as “the studio”.

In it’s current state, it looks more like a storage area than an occupied living space.  Inside, there is nothing but art supplies stacked in the corners and lining the walls.  The only piece of furniture is an old desk that I bought from the Re-Store years ago.  It’s top is a large piece of tempered glass that I grabbed from a roadside pile of junk which was set out for the neighborhood’s bulk pickup.  So, that’s it.  I now have at my disposal, a tiny apartment with a “frankendesk” (no chair), and a few creative implements.  This will do just fine until I paint my way into a larger space.

Now, that I have secured a humble creative environment, I need to find a way to eliminate my next impediment to art-making… lack of time.  Between my day job and the shared responsibility of child-rearing, there isn’t much time left in the day(or the night) for creativity.  So, it’s time to plan and execute my next major transition.  From languishing employee to thriving entrepreneur.  Let’s make this thing happen!

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Cradled Wood Panel Building

I have successfully built a few more cradled wood panels.  This time, I started completely from scratch.  That means measuring and miter cutting each piece of wood by hand.  Then glueing, clamping, sanding and sealing everything together. It took me a few tries, but I think I have settled in on my own method of how to build a solid cradle that will stand the test of time.

Below are two 12″ x 12″ x 2″ cradles that were built a week apart.  You can see the difference in quality between my first hand-built panel(bottom) and my last(top).  On the first, I could not get the frame properly square because of the rush-cut wood pieces.  So, the corners were either offset or had a gap.  I also used nails in addition to the wood glue to secure the panel to the cradle.  The results.. an ugly, uneven cradle that will require alot of extra prep work to make it paintable.

After building two other imperfect panels during that week, I learned from my mistakes and ended up with the top panel.  All of the corners are perfectly mated.  There is no panel-to-cradle “lip” or overlap, and I used only glue to bond the panel and cradle together.  A little bit of finish sanding and this panel is ready to be sealed, gessoed and painted!12x12 comparison
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I had the same experience while building my larger panels.  It is the larger panels, however, that are the most cost effective to make.  Much more time and material is required for additional bracing, but the investment will pay off.  The majority of my new artwork will be done using these large and extra-large panels.  The only improvement that I will make is to use real wood panels such as pine, oak or walnut instead of hardboard.

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12″x12″x2″ panels(front 2), 24″x48″x2″ panel(middle), 36″x48″x3″ panel(rear)

I am, by no means, a master art cradle builder.  But, until my artwork becomes in-demand and I can afford to spend several hundred dollars on a manufactured cradled panel, I’m going to keep building my own.  Plus, there is a higher level of satisfaction knowing that I created a work of art that was made entirely by my own hands.