Monday, 16 May 2011

Resistance Training

Three weeks ago I discovered that my new batch of allegedly identical canvasses made my brush pens bleed a little in a way the old batch never had (like this). Sigh. So I scuttled off to my group of unfailingly helpful artist friends who recommended priming the canvas (and reassured me I wouldn't lose the texture I love). Primer was duly ordered, dispatched, held up by The Wedding and, more importantly, Beltane (see what I was up to here), but arrived in good time - nearly two weeks ago. I sat it on the little shelf by our kitchen door so I could take it with me the very next time I went up to my studio. And there it remained.

Since when, I have suffered all the woes of resistance. Everything seemed a bit pointless (because it wasn't what I really needed to do); my writing has been coming along, but it's been slow and grueling (because really I was in an art mood). All the time I just wanted to paint (or 'pen', or whatever it is that I do), but I couldn't because first I had to prime the canvas... oh, too boring to even think about. Priming... not art; just the thing you have to do before you can do some art... ugh. Bored already. I'll read some more blog posts...

Then today I decided to actually do it. No matter how awful the experience was. So I got my bum off my chair, collected the little pot which had withstood so many hard looks from me (coming between me and my art!) and walked all the way to my studio. Which is uphill. Uh.

Only, it's actually in my garden. It's a two-minute walk, and that's if you spend a minute inspecting the pond and looking for signs of growth on tadpole leg-buds. 

 Our thriving mini pond, complete with skulls, stones and prayer flags

So I made it all the way past the pond, and through the door. This door is genuinely a bit of an obstacle. It once slid open, but since then half the building's fallen down (would that I were exaggerating) and been reassembled, so now you push the top across while hooking your foot between the doors and kicking the bottom part. If you get this right, you may enter. If you get it wrong, the door falls off. You still may enter, but you will need to spend a very frustrating and sometimes painful time getting the door at least partly back in its runners. Sigh. But I made it in with only one swear word, and not a particularly bad one.

Immediately I had spider web across my face. Aaaagh! Now, I'm considered intelligent (although the intelligence of those doing the considering may need examining) and am capable of moments of rationality as long as certain things are not present. If my daughter is present, I'm all heart, which is a nice way of saying, 'brainless'. Around crisps I'm just a motorised eating machine and you'd better not get in the way (or, worse, ask to share. I do not share crisps.) And the other thing is spiders. (Note to Ent: I know we could expand this list, but let's not do so publicly.) I totally understand that no spider in Britain can hurt me. (Genuinely, there is a collection of dangerous spiders just down the road, but we just have to trust their keeper that they won't escape. The snakes would eat them, anyway. Or the geckos. Or the... let's not think about it any more.) And, of course, there isn't a web anywhere (this side of Middle Earth) which can hurt me. So twirling around clawing at my head was probably unnecessary. But like I say, unnecessary happens in the presence of certain things. Shudder.

Having survived the hill, the door and the web, I surveyed the interior. It looks like this. 

 Inherited junk languishing in my studio

Which is another reason why I have been so loathe to enter. It looked a lot better before I started cleaning one optimistic day. To distract me from the filth and the plants growing through the walls, I lit some incense and said a quick prayer for creative guidance. Then I noticed the three canvasses from the old non-bleedy batch which I'd forgotten I still had. "That was quick," I added. Clearly, spirit doesn't have the same trouble getting round to doing stuff as I do. I tuned the radio into something about Gershwin and took a deep breath.

My easel/altar

When I'd finished choking on the dust, I got a bigish brush form my brush box, shook (just on the general principle that most things benefit from a good shake) the pot of gesso, opened the lid and brushed a layer evenly all over the canvas. That Herculean task took me, what, one minute? Sooo much less effort than all that resisting.

So, the new, primed canvas is drying and awaiting my experiment upon it another day. And I have three canvasses to play with right now. All I have to do is actually get on with it. I'll just put the kettle on again...


  1. *chuckle* Oh, I've been there...I am the Queen of Procrastination! I'm with you on the spiderweb, but then, when you live here, it's safest to assume anything with 8 legs is dangerous. It always amuses me, those movies where someone has discovered a secret tunnel and they just blithely brush curtains of cobwebs aside...that's the point where you'll find most Australians diving under their seats. We're fine with zombies though!!

  2. Oh, zombies are no trouble - two legs good, and they don't scuttle. *shudder*

  3. ugh spiders, I have a tendency to wander around barefoot in my studio and if i see a spider scuttling across the floor I'm outta there :( can't stand the things (shudders)

    Oh and priming is not as bad a job as it sounds :) and sometimes it can become part of the creative process itself - did you know you could add acrylic paint to the primer to get a coloured background for example :)

  4. It's good to know I'm in such good company with my ridiculous phobia. And I might try colouring the primer another time. Thanks Graham.

  5. The first step always seems the hardest. I read somewhere that when the To Do list seems overwhelming, start, and the pressure will be off.
    I'm looking forward to seeing your new piece!

  6. Thanks Luna. Two new pieces are in mid-flow and will be up here sometime soon :o).

  7. AnonymousMay 21, 2011

    Oh, to have a room to call my very own! I'll take it, spiders, ghosts and all.

    Here's to productivity! One step at a time.

  8. Yes, MSB, I know I'm very lucky. Have wanted my own space all my life and now I have it :o). One day I REALLY will tart it up and show you all.


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