28 February 2014

Losing Myself in Rijo

Stretching canvas

Last night I stretched a canvas for the first time since 2010. I took several painting courses in college, and remember wanting to kick myself for not taking a painting class sooner. On our first day of Introduction to Painting, we were taught how to stretch our own canvases, and I thought the methodical process of wedging, hammering, stapling, and pulling was so invigorating and numbing, I could do it over and over enjoying every step for how basic and simple it was. 

Paul Feely, Rijo, 1963, acrylic on canvas
Back in July I promised Andrew that I would make him a reproduction of Paul Feely's Rijo, a painting we were both drawn to on our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I promised, and I wanted to make good on that promise, but life got in the way. I quit my job. I found a new job. I moved to a new apartment. I studied for the GRE. I took the GRE. And all the while, in the back of my head was a nagging voice telling me paint that painting. I bought the supplies a month ago, and for some reason (The Goldfinch, the cold, Breaking Bad), I put off stretching the canvas. Last night, after a particularly trying workout, I just decided F-it. I am going to stretch that canvas and paint it with the first layer of gesso if it's the last thing I do. And I did it. All of the things my hands were taught to do all those years ago came back to me so naturally, so organically, that I could have stretched this canvas in my sleep. I went to bed dreaming about the canvases I want to stretch and the paintings I want to make feeling excited and fulfilled by the prospect of the blank canvas. Only two more layers of gesso to add before I can really get to work, losing myself in the burnt orange and sky blue of Rijo.

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