Sunday, June 2, 2013

A New Studio Feature

I've always loved working big. Maybe it's because I'm not a petite woman, myself: I'm almost 6' tall and have always been overweight. Maybe, though, it's just because large, abstract pieces of art hanging on a wall have always taken my breath away.

The problem, as a painter, with working big is that the larger a stretched canvas gets, the more heavy, bulky, and awkward they become. Moving them around the studio, especially when working on a flat surface (which I've always done), can be exhausting. I finally gave up working huge canvases for this reason, but have longed to return to them, and now I have the studio space I've been dreaming of to give me that opportunity.

In my former studio, I had a very large design wall, built by my intrepid and always-game husband (click the link to see how we did it, step-by-step). 

It was created by bolting sheets of Styrafoam to the wall...

... and covering them with batting and white fabric...

I loved using this wall and it was always thereafter adorned with bright, colorful fabrics, painted papers, and small, painted canvases. It kept the space lively and when my creativity flagged, helped bring it back to life.

But I wanted something different in this studio. I still want a design wall, and will have it in time, but I also wanted a "painting wall"... a space where I could just hang a canvas of any size on the wall and start painting it.

This weekend, that dream came true with very little effort, and no money spent. After watching videos of artists Rebecca Crowell and Flora Bowley work in their studios, I was fascinated with the way they would just walk up to the wall, hang a canvas on it, and go, go, go, so I wrote to both of them to ask how they pulled off this small miracle. Both women wrote back to me immediately and shared their simple secret: long screws installed directly into the wallboard. Perfect!

So this weekend, we dismantled part of the studio and reimagined it. Here's what we started with.

These two walls measured nearly the same, so I chose to create my new wall closest to the sink. First, everything had to be removed...

We took down my beloved paper storage unit hanging on the wall and moved it to the other wall...

Then we measured the new painting wall for studs and drew a level line where the screws would go.

One stud: one screw. We used very long screws and left the ends sticking out about 3/4 of an inch, so I could hang stretched canvases on them. Then we found the halfway point between the screws and installed toggle bolts.

 More screws went into the toggles...

Greg used a simple paper guide to make sure that all the screws stuck out from the wall the same amount. And voila, a new painting wall was born.

In the near future, we will use the wall that the water cooler currently sits on... build a design wall using the Styrofoam method I described above, but in the meantime, I am about to start painting on that beautiful hunk of canvas hanging on the wall. It measures a whopping 48" x 60", larger than any canvas I've ever painted on.

I'm in heaven!! Thank you, honey!
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