Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fredrix Illustration Goof-up

As someone who has been stretching his own canvases for 30+ years, I was surprised to find a different method illustrated on the back of the blister packaging for my new pair of Fredrix Canvas Pliers. In fact, at a glance as I was tossing it in the trash, the image registered as wrong to me.

Can you tell what the problem is?

Well, I went to www.fredrixartistcanvas.com as they directed me to, which redirected me automatically to its 'new' home www.taramaterials.com, not technically a goof, since companies are bought and sold and domains change all the time.

Tara Materials has been the sole owner of Fredrix Artist Canvas since 1968, when Arthur Freidrich sold the NY based canvas manufacturer to a couple of guys from Atlanta.

I recently purchased my second pair of canvas pliers in 33 years because the first ones broke. Can you believe something I bought in college would only last 33 years or so? But way back in college, I learned that to properly stretch a canvas you tack stretched canvas starting in the middle of each bar and work the opposite side for the next tack.

The Fredrix canvas "mounting" instructions, while not very clear, are in agreement with what I was taught about working from the center out and across.

But look at the staples in the illustration.

Yes, I am picking on Fredrix for their packaging, but it is all tongue-in-cheek — I am confident in most any of their products, and as with any manufacturer, they produce varying qualities of some products to suit certain needs.

I am confident that the average artist who only stretches a few dozen canvases a year will do just fine with a set of generic canvas pliers, just as well as another brand for $15 more or, if you want to have exactly what I am using (and they do have some nice additional features, like a wider grip and a grip-handle stop at the far end to, presumably prevent breakage) you might want to go ahead and pony up the extra few bucks to get the Fredrix canvas pliers.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Remembering Dad

My father died 5 years ago today, a little after 10am. I knew then that life will never be the same, and I have been right.

But that's not a bad thing. And it's not an entirely good thing either.

Life goes on. The pain of his death, for me, is gone. I have accepted it. Nevertheless, there is a feeling of missing that is neither painful nor comfortable, but something in between... a resolution that this is just the way life goes... chipping away at us day by day. Giving and taking.

I like the mountain tops much more than the valleys. But I have to admit I learn so much more in the valleys.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'll Get the Wine

I'll Get The Wineby David R. Darrow
6" x 6" (15.2cm x 15.2cm)
Oil on Panel
Framed and Ready to Hang

$125 + $9.99 S/H

Click here to buy with Paypal

About This Painting

On a recent trip to Santa Fe, NM, I stopped by one gallery a little ways off the well-known gallery row. Traffic must have been slow for this gallery, for they were closed that day.

The gallery has an inviting courtyard, with a patio and overgrown wildflowers everywhere. Seeing these two Adirondack chairs beckoning two lovers to sit and rest, the phrase "I'll get the wine..." came to mind.  ◙

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He Bangs!

Poor George. My brain gasped when I opened his e-mail and saw this picture. George is my 167-year-old artist friend from San Diego with whom, not long ago, I chatted and drank wine when I visited him at his home and studio. I wrote about it here.

It seems George is spatially-and-vertically-challenged at times, and he blames his trifocals for blurring his feet sometimes. (It's true. When he wears trifocals, no one can actually see his feet. Amazing).

George's e-mail, titled Don't worry, it's just my head... said:
Hear I am trying to have woman friends, had regular Monday cuppa with Ann Marie, took my Liberty Station walk, visited the building I saved from a serial arsonist in the 1960's — and missed three very low steps, thinking it was level to the door because of my trifocals which fuzz out my feet.

And the arsonist got his revenge — Over 20 sutures over my right eyebrow, a beauty of a black eye, and a compression skull cap.
George was able to use his cellphone to call his son, who came and picked him up and drove hi to his private physician for clean-up and repair, thus avoiding the huge bill that would have been slapped on him had he called 911. (Not to mention, when you call 911 on a cell phone, you reach Highway Patrol by default, which wouldn't have been of much use, either.)

I got updated with this newer photo today. Nothing against your otherwise good looks, George, but the location of your new scar is strangely reminiscent of Frankenstein's monster. 

Chicks dig scars.

George sent me a self-portrait he did today (Father's Day 2010). He decided to stay home from church today since he thought he would only frighten people. He's right. Of course in the some churches, he could have had people slapping him in  the forehead commanding him to "Be Healed!" That doesn;t sound so friendly, does it.

I think it was a good idea to stay away from churches today.

George, promise me you'll ask your doctor when you go back — with a straight face — "Doc, am I gonna have a scar there for the rest of my life?"

I want to know what he/she says.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Diversive De-cobwebbing

As a means to avoid making big problems on my commissioned painting that I still have yet to start, I create a diversion for myself, convincing myself it will get the cobwebs out of my head.

I am so distracted these days. The 92°f stifling heat in San Jose, the absolute silence of my home, the pressure of a deadline, the major changes in my life... all contribute to my anxiety, but I feel better at least painting something, even if it's not my real job.

Last night I painted this 16 x 20 for a bit more than an hour while watching a movie. Stage 1 (click the picture) was about as far as I got.

Stage 2 was today's work. I set the timer for 30 minutes just to get warmed up, but wasted about 20 on other things... putting out paint, etc. When the timer went off, I reset it and painted another 30 minutes, so about 40 minutes altogether.

Warming Up

Summer is about here, and San Jose is hot. Last evening, I could hardly wait for the sun to simply go away so it would stop heating everything up. Bonus: I now understand better the meaning of 'stifling.'

I have a commission on the easel that I am approaching gingerly. By that I mean I am avoiding it by any logical means possible. After stretching a canvas of Belgian linen and preparing to start, I noticed that there were slight ripples on the long edge of what should have been a taut canvas. I knew that the only remedy was to remove all the staples and start again. But I waited 2 hours to start removing staples.

It was Saturday, and I needed to ship the painting Wednesday.

In a moment of superhuman strength I snapped off one of the gripper heads of my canvas pliers — the pair I have had since art school over 30 years ago.

The cast metal just broke.

It was 4pm on a Saturday, and I had just removed the last staple from a fairly taut canvas, was now reattaching the canvas and tightening it up for my second staple when "Snap!" — now I had no way of reattaching the canvas.

Fortunately, a local art supply store had a pair, and I was able to buy a new pliers (is/are pliers singular or plural?) for a mere $32 and rush back home to try them out.

I mourned a bit for the loss of my old friend since college. How could it have happened just like that? They served me well for so long with not even a hint of being stressed.

After successfully re-stretching the canvas, I decided I had better practice painting, first... feeling a little rusty, I suppose. I painted a practice painting, and went to bed. Today, I must actually paint my commission.