Sunday, August 9, 2009

When all else fails

Here's some boring technical information. To paint on watercolour paper that is less than, say, 400 gsm, it is best practice to stretch the paper before painting on it. This is so that the paper will not buckle when you paint on it - a smooth surface is often preferred for that professional look. Stretching paper involves soaking it in water, then laying it across a board, draining off excess water, and taping it down with specialised gummed tape. As the paper dries, it shrinks - and this is the tricky bit. You don't want the shrinking paper to tug your gummed tape off the board, otherwise the paper will dry unevenly. You want everything flat, flat, FLAT but so many factors can come between you and your goal of flatness.

Stretching watercolour paper the traditional way (with gummed tape) is a hit-and-miss affair. I get very stressed out with this part of the painting process. My latest effort was looking to be a disaster, with the paper buckling even before I finished taping it down! I managed to smooth it out again, but a few hours later, sure enough, the gummed tape was giving way.

This is the solution so far (and it looks like it's working!)... Stacks of heavy books (thank you, Complete Works of Shakespeare!), weights and G-clamps:






Monday, August 3, 2009

Julian's rules of etiquette and notes for living

As I recall, they were:
1. If you bump into friends at a cafe, don't assume you can sit down to join them because you don't know if delicate matters are being discussed.

2. Food halls are great because there's no need to split the bill.

3. Yes, there are too many art openings every other week. If you can't make it to both your friends' openings, go to one and send apologies to the other.

4. Be kind to your body. Exercise everyday as if it is a way of life and not a punishment for drinking too many beers the night before.

5. If your studio is at home, go for a walk before starting work. When you return, it will be as if it's someone else's house and you won't feel the need to do the dishes when you should be working.

6. Walks are great because you can also relax your eyes by looking at far off distances.

7. Walks are also great because you can hear the birds. Why listen to an iPod?
This advice was dished out by Julian to a night class I attended, so they are not his exact words. I've only jotted them down in my own voice so I won't forget.

Julian's favourite things were read out by his brother at the funeral. Everyone laughed at "unexpected upgrades" but I had heard "unexpected upbraids"!

Rest in peace, Julian Dashper, 1960 - 2009.