Putting paint onto canvas is just one of the things I need to do in order to get an idea from my head into a finished painting
I can easily go through 50 individual processes to get just one painting onto my website and onto a client’s wall. Painting is a small part of a very large logistical system; all with the focus of creating the best quality art I possibly can. And like everything that’s worth doing, it comes at a price.
Much of the work that’s involved is done without you ever seeing or knowing about it; painting can be a small piece of a large jigsaw – even if it is the most important. Creating something from nothing requires a great deal of planning, patience, and thought and I agonize over the smallest of details before I finally commit to canvas.
Preparation before painting
Once the actual composition is decided (weeks before usually) I decide on what colours to use and place an order for paint, then the list begins: Decide on the size of the piece | Check for correct size of stretcher bars | Buy a non-porous membrane sheet | Check painting tools | Stock check thinning mediums and check the chemical cabinet for stock.
Cut a piece of flat canvas to oversize | Fit new filters to my breathing mask | Sweep floor, clean painting tables | Clean and service the extractor | Collect paint from my paint supplier
The painting sessions
Change into paint clothes and chemical suit | Arrange all the tools and get the lids off the paint cans | Pour and mix all the paints including careful mixing of all the chemicals for that session and the painting I’m working on | Test on a blank canvas first | Paint the base layers in one session then top layers get painted in the subsequent sessions | Move to drying area.
Clean all tools | Put paints away | Recycle leftover paint | Tidy and clean studio | Sweep floor | Change | Shower | Typically I repeat this stage of the process four to six times on average, per painting with each session lasting three to four hours on average.
The finishing process
Wait for the curing process to stabilize (anything from a week to six months) | Carefully roll and remove from the drying area and take to the back room | Assemble the timbers for the frame and square off.
Load onto the framing table and place the canvas in its final position and check all sides are matched | Stretch and staple (1-2 hrs for around 150 – 300 staples per piece) | Trim excess canvas from the inside of the frame and insert 8 tensioning wedge.
Sign and name the painting on the reverse | Final QC check for indentations, rippling or flaws and correct if required | Final check on stapling quality, edges and surface finish | Set up tripod, set up lighting rig and photograph with my Digital SLR (usually around 1hr)
Posting onto the site/or to a client (commission)
Download all photographs to PC | Sort through around 150 to find nine or ten good ones | Crop and resize images to a predetermined size and rename to relevant image titles | Run images through a JPEG optimizer to reduce file sizes.
Choose three room settings to place examples in and process through Photoshop | Open website Content Management screen | Create new Portfolio Item | Insert all images | Put additional images into a small gallery | Place all ALT tags on images | Embed copyright watermarks | Insert titles, tags and SEO meta data | Write engaging and descriptive content (typically 500 words) | Finalize price and publish.
For commissioned paintings I crop and resize around 15 images and post to Dropbox | I then compose an email and send secure links for viewing by the client. This process is repeated for each canvas variation.
I need to find a home for the new painting in the Gallery and this may require a re-hang of many others | I print off a gallery information board for the clip-frame | Then when I’m ready I post to Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus | Review the order of the new painting in relation to the others in the Art For Sale section.
When a client wants to see some paintings
Each one they want to see has to be wrapped in anti-static foam individually | On the day of a client visit the van gets loaded in strict order | All tools are assembled and the paintings are strapped | We drive to the client (average distance in 2017 was 265 miles per day) | Van gets unloaded | I meet and greet | We start unpacking all the paintings | We spend an average of four hours looking at the paintings.
If a purchase is made it needs to be hung correctly on the wall | An invoice needs to be raised | All rejected paintings need to be re-wrapped, re-loaded and re-strapped into the van | Travel back to the studio | Unstrap, unload, unwrap and re-hang all artworks before we go home | Most install days are around 12 hours long.
A little love and a lot of care will always translate into quality
Effort will always equal reward. More of one brings more of the other. In the end, a complete and unique art ownership experience doesn’t come cheap, so next time you see an artists’ original work think to yourself what lies behind it and why they ask the money they do for it.
More often that not it will help you appreciate the art can be so much more than just a painting or a piece of sculpture – what you are really buying is a piece of someone’s life; always a difficult thing to place a value upon.