Thursday, July 4, 2013
Well, I am here. Here I am. My studio abroad will need a thorough cleaning, but I am lucky to have space at all. My easel and the stretchers that I made last year are all in place and ready to be re-used. Every year I refine the process of getting supplies back and forth. This year I brought that tube on the plane, full of rolled raw linen and duct. I had a gallon of gesso and some oil primer, as well as some white and a couple tools delivered from Utrecht's fabulous international shipping department. It was here waiting for me upon arrival. I brought some Meo Gelip, a toxic material that although checked by TSA, was not taken. I also brought some Williamsburg paints that I have fallen in love with, specifically the Italian Earthen set. Latex gloves, staples, and a few very large brushes also adorned my suitcase this trip, a trip in which I bring less every year as I stockpile my painting arsenal. Good notes at the end of every trip with regard to inventory have become invaluable. I will need to grab some spatulas and cake decorating scrapers at the local hardware store, but I have plenty of stuff to get going.
I often think during this process about my old professor George Nick painting trains in Bulgaria and wonder what his process of transporting stuff was like. Of course, with money anything is possible and he has reached a well deserved level of success. What the hell did someone like Gauguin do in the most remote islands of the South Pacific? Those huge burlap canvases and that famous signature high key color that must have been fairly archival judging by their current state seem like a logistical nightmare. Like painting in general, this all takes practice, routine, and serious commitment. I think the artlessness of the activity is a welcomed component of my process. It is all so technical, but not in the way that applying paint often feels.
The thing in the foreground that looks like a weed-wacker with a saw blade on the end is a typical grass cutting tool in this region. I use it every year to help cut the weeds from the steep hill that form a plateau required for the rice fields that belong to my family. Unlike painting, you don't want to make a mistake with that thing.