Sunday, November 29, 2009

Layers Of Experience

I lay each stencil on a thick cotton mattboard and measure the distance between the edges of each. The board is larger than necessary to allow for a generous border as well as a few extra centimetres to be trimmed in the unlikely event that the edges are crumpled during consignment.
I'm particular about my work being received by my collectors in perfect condition.
I paint the image through the stencil. I let it dry for 24 hours. Each stencil is painted three times, with 24 hours between coats. When the third layer is touch-dry, I peel away the stencil from the cotton mattboard – very slowly. Using my fingers, tweezers and a fine blade, I remove it piece by piece.
I ruin the first two attempts: I'm impatient and pull the stencil away carelessly. The surface of the multi-ply mattboard lifts and tears; the brittle enamel paint peels off with the stencil. On the third, I smudge a crisply painted edge and leave a fingerprint in the middle of a face.
Mistakes like these can't be corrected. The materials ruined are expensive and a lot of valuable time is wasted. I force myself to work at a snail's pace.
It's not until the final piece of stencil has been removed that I can see if the image is any good. Like most things, if I narrow my focus not on the end result but each step of the process, it always turns out better than I dare hope.

3 comments:

Aaron B. Brown said...

You seem to put a great deal of time and effort into producing high quality works using premium material, I was just wondering about the durability of those materials. Under ideal conditions how long will one of these stencils last?

I noticed an older posts about a work that was damaged, scratched, which you were attempting to get back, and how some of your work like the enamel paintings are difficult or impossible to repair.

Grief Work

Is there something you can do to make your productions more resistant to such mishandling which results in damage?

I would think that in this modern age you could find some type of coating or sealing method that would render your originals at least more resistant to assault and entropy, if not impervious.

Tina Mammoser said...

I always admire your integrity with regards to your process and materials, meeting another artist so concerned about quality and workmanship is rare (sadly). And you're inspiring me to try out a bit of printmaking again since I've been loaned a press! Perhaps this week.

Hazel Dooney said...

I research all of the materials I use, and choose them for archival durability. With basic but quality framing, the stencils will last indefinitely – or at least beyond my lifetime.

The basic principles of caring for any artwork are:

i) do not hang it in direct sunlight
ii) do not drop or scratch it
iii) do not clean or scrub it with abrasive agents.

Even industrial materials don't stay pristine when treated roughly.

Works of mine that have been damaged – as referred to in the post you mentioned – have simply been treated carelessly. I provide instructions for the care of my work and am available to answer specific questions from collectors. I also offer a reparation service. However I cannot control the way other people care for or mistreat the works of mine that they own.