The process of constructing and preparing a canvas can take nearly as long as painting the painting itself. First the building, cutting, measuring and nailing. Crossbeams and braces are necessary on larger work. Then I cut a piece of cloth and slowly pull and staple the edges until the slack sheet sits like a tight drum. I was taught to use a nurse’s fold at the corner so the ends of the cloth would not stick out past the edge.
Then comes the Gesso. The first coat is worked into the weave of the cloth. A sealant. It takes about a an hour to complete a coat on a large canvas. Drying takes just another. After each coat, the surface is sanded soft. The next coat is applied. 3 coats will give a solid surface that retains some texture. Early on I used to paint on 3 coats. I liked the tooth. Now I desire a smoother surface akin to leaded glass. Five and even 6 coats are necessary.
Preparation is a time consuming process but it is integral. The application of thin white sheets is a meditation like making
the bed. Before I have even touched a painting, I have lived with the canvas for hours. A relationship is built with the painting before it has even begun. The process of preparation becomes a ritual in which the painting's content is formulated throughout the meditation and the creation of the canvas is artistry in itself. I have forged a connection to every aspect of my product.