I know of someone who is currently writing a memoir and experiencing a bit of difficulty. Apparently in doing so, he has brought up memories of heavy abuse at the hands of his father, resulting in suicidal thoughts.
We as people carry physical objects throughout our life, but we also carry internal things. Thoughts, ambitions, goals, feelings, emotions, motivations, and obstacles that all weave themselves into our psyche making us who we are.
Our internal struggles that end up moving us in a direction is not unlike that of an onion, we can peel back the layers of emotion and thought to analyze what we have done and why. What has resulted in determination and perseverance sometimes can be better defined as cognitive dissonance.
My onion is layers of paint on a canvas. I dig through them to make sense of anything, for some semblance of a cohesive thought that can produce meaning. As I dig further down, I have to be careful not to tear the last layer and the canvas itself gives way, tearing the foundation.
I can’t help but hear Covenant’s “Tour De Force” in my head: Take you down… I wanna take you down with me….
So I was reading Dogpoet and thinking about suicide from a lot of different angles. It is easy enough to see several suicide references in some of my work, though it was never enough to actually make someone ask about it. Maybe by putting it ‘out there’, I have silenced such inquiries, or maybe they are just too afraid to ask. But I know this is another thing I carry. It is my mission to produce work that evokes powerful emotion and thought. To make the internal external.
When we hear that someone has committed suicide there are always statements of evaluation that immediately follow. ‘He had so much to live for’, ‘She was so pretty’, and my ever favorite ‘Why didn’t they talk to someone… they could have talked to me!’ Never before have we been so pompous to expect our wisdom to be the torch that lights the darkness, let alone their ability to trust us.
I can remember nights thinking what it would be like to be a ghost. What an appropriate fate to linger in the minds of those who knew me as that ‘odd painter with the mustache’ . Though no one would tell that many stories of me, and certainly not after twenty years or so. Time, like a flame, would consume every painting I have ever unleashed on the world and my tales, like my life, would be a wisp of smoke.
Now Covenant’s “Flux” plays in my head: forgotten as the ages grow, eternity is not for you.
But that is all it will ever be anyway; you will be forgotten. I am okay with this fact, even when it rears it’s ugly head around in the late night sessions stepping into the shadow.
My process of adding and peeling off layers of paint on emotions buried on a canvas to get a feeling right, over days, weeks, months, or even years, can be an arduous and often tumultuous process, but it’s necessary for me to create. It is like continually pulling scabs off of healing wounds to disinfect the site so it heals right. And I know that when the piece is finished in it’s perfection, there won’t even be a scar. The thing I carried for so long is put down.
Hopefully my paintings can turn a few heads and make a couple more people think about the things they carry.
I recently sold a number of old items on Ebay. Now that most of the auctions are done and I’ve shipped off the boxes, the feeling is like nothing else. Well, almost.
I remember when I felt this way last. It was some four years ago when I sold my car. It was the one biggest item I have ever owned and most expensive. At first I thought I would never be able to get along without it, but now I look back and laugh. Let alone the mere cost, upkeep, parking tickets, insurance… The bigger problem was that it was just something else on my mind, something else to worry about. Just like my car, these old objects aren’t around me anymore, getting in the way of my thoughts and actions. Toys I haven’t played with in years? Gone. Old video games that barely work? Gone. Other things I haven’t touched in years? Please.
One of my friends pleaded with me to keep all these things. “How cool will it be when you look on these things years from now?” My answer? “Not nearly as cool when I look at my clean apartment today.” More importantly, theses things aren’t cluttering my mind anymore. And let’s face it: I’ll be 35 this year. Am I going to wait another 15 years until I’m 50 to finally get a good price on my comic book collection? Pfft, half of the shit I offloaded isn’t even worth anything any more. My Nintendo won’t be worth another dime in five years, Prolly less. And I’d rather have the money now.
The thing is, we can have the best of both worlds. As we age, we learn the ability to compartmentalize. Sometimes this has a negative effect, but if done right, it’s a quite useful skill. I can get older without growing up. I can still be a big kid with a bunch of toys around. But they lurk only in certain places, physically and mentally.
Still so many of us carry these objects through our life, objects that have little or no value. I’m not talking about a hobby or that rocking chair your mom gave you. That shit is great, and if it brings you joy, by all means, keep it, but USE it. We don’t need to hang on to every little piece of everything. Have some faith in your memories — they are already skewed in your favor anyways.
So every once in awhile, I get a little overzealous, and um… ‘damage’ a canvas. Usually in the form of a rip. Considering prestretched canvas is expensive, (especially because I don’t have the time, energy, or gumption to stretch my own) I formulated a way to repair it.
Here is my most recent victim:
To patch your canvas, you will need the following (most likely you have these already):
- Acrylic medium
- Acrylic paint (I’m using black)
- Raw canvas
- A brush
- A palette knife
- Several large books (or something very heavy)
- A drop cloth – this is optional, you can use more of the raw canvas as well.
- Beer (Any German pilsner or wheat will do)
- Bottle opener
- The ripped canvas
This is a pretty fast process, so you only need a couple minutes.
- Open the beer. Drink.
- Brush some acrylic medium on the rip of the damaged canvas. be sure to cover all edges, putting any threads that have separated from the canvas back in line. As you do this, you will notice the thickness of the medium starts to create a bond. Do this first on the back of the canvas, then the front. Smooth out any large deposits of medium that seep though on the front to maintain a smooth finish.
- With the palette knife, place some paint on the back of the canvas. Be generous.
- Cut a piece of raw canvas just bigger than the area to be patched. Place this on the back of the canvas right on top of the paint.
- With your palette knife, place some paint on the small piece of canvas and smooth it out. You will feel the paint underneath moving a bit. This is okay, but try to keep the patch as still as possible.
- Drink some beer.
- You should notice that the paint is more or less keeping things together now. If not, use more paint. You should be able to tilt the canvas now and examine the front. Carefully smooth out any large deposits that have come through the rip. Optionally, you can brush on more paint if you wish to to ‘seal’ the rip on the front. Do this fairly quickly as not to risk the integrity of the canvas recently applied to the back.
- Flip your canvas back over and place some paper on the patch (note to protect your floor with a drop cloth or some raw canvas).
- Make sure your canvas is level and place the books or heavy object on the paper. Make sure you have significant weight on the canvas part itself and not the stretcher bars. Also make sure you aren’t tweaking the stretched canvas elsewhere with the weight. Notice my doctor’s office blue drop cloth.
- Finish your beer
- Go dancing at Deathguild
Let the above dry over night. Depending on temperatures and humidity, the patch should now be dry enough to pick up the canvas. Do this very carefully as some paint may have seeped through, adhering the canvas to the drop cloth, but should still be pliable as not to cause an issue. This will give you some time to examine the front of the piece and make any minor adjustments. If you do have any unsightly deposits of paint, you can smooth them out (very carefully) with your palette knife. Remember, the patch is not fully dry yet! You will see a ‘scar’, but don’t worry about perfection yet. Set it out to dry fully.
This is what the finished patch will look like. Notice the ‘scar’ detail. You can now slather on a bunch of paint to hide it, or use it as an effect in your composition. I took the picture with a flash to highlight the texture:
Good as new!