One day I got a text from Doshia Wagner of NonStop Staging (http://NonStopStaging.com) that she had found a large canvas painting at Goodwill for $29. Large, I guess! It was five feet high and six feet wide. It was an interesting mixed media piece from the 80’s. The gallery wrapped canvas was overlaid with some sections of burlap and then airbrushed with those lovely colors that were so popular back then. When she bought it, Doshia thought maybe I could do some embellishment and fast forward the piece into the new millennium. I’ve customized artwork for her before with success, but this time, I had to admit that I didn’t feel the results would be something she would want to use in a house that called for a piece of art this size. “Let me just take it and see what I can do”, is what I said to her. A few days later she had it delivered to me.
I spent quite a while just looking at it and thinking about how to approach this thing. My first idea was to try and remove the burlap and take it down to the canvas. Well, I’m still coughing–just thinking about it. The stubborn old dusty burlap was not wanting to budge. I worked for an hour or so and was only able to remove a small amount. I couldn’t even imagine how in the world I would manage to get it all off.
My next and best idea was to get a product that would cover the burlap, sealing it and taking away some of the texture. It wasn’t that I didn’t want texture…Doshia and I both like it…I just wasn’t a fan of the looks of burlap, or the concept of painting on it.
I went off to Home Depot and found a product called, “ElastoPatch – Pro-Grade Elastomeric Patching Compound”. It came in a 32 ounce tub and I bought two, thinking I probably wouldn’t need that much. Well, I did. I used all I could scrape out of both containers. The product was perfect for what I wanted to do. It was like plastic peanut butter and I spread it on the whole canvas with a handy orange scraper that I also picked up at Home Depot. The product dried overnight and was ready to prime the next day. After two coats of primer with a day between each one–I was finally ready to paint.
In the meantime, a brand new house was waiting to be staged in beautiful Legends Bay. The informal eating area was enormous and had a very large empty wall that was destined to make an impact.
I was envisioning something with water. The house had a pool and wasn’t far from the Gulf of Mexico–why not? I wanted to add some gold leaf, so after marking a horizon line, I gave the canvas some base coats. I used metallic silver on the top and a deep blue black on the bottom.
After another day, I masked off the area that would become the gold leaf horizon and started adding more paint with that same handy scraper I had used to spread the ElastoPatch. I overlaid the silver metallic top with a pale sky blue and the blue black bottom with a midnight blue. I didn’t want the new paint to completely hide what was underneath, and using the scraper allowed the texture of the re-purposed canvas to come through.
I used a one inch brush with some of the sky color and a little bit of ivory paint to do a dry brush effect on the bottom section–creating the impression of soft waves.
When all of the paint had time to set, I removed the masking tape that had protected where the gold leaf would be applied. I added two new pieces of masking tape on either side of where the other tape had been, and began the three step approach of adding the gold leaf. First, applying the adhesive and letting it dry. Then rubbing the thin sheets of gold leaf onto the adhesive. And finally, adding a clear coat of sealer to the gold leaf for protection.
It was delight for me to be present when the art was installed. It’s a thrill to see your art in a beautiful environment. Doshia did her usual genius job on transforming a big, empty space into a captivating and attractive show place.
I named the art “Golden Horizon”. The message that came to me as I worked on the multi-layered task of giving new life to the old canvas was: The water is deep, but the sky is bright and there is gold on the horizon.
Golden Horizon, 5’x6′, acrylic on canvas
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