I have a love hate relationship with both canvas and panel/wood surfaces. For years now, I have been working on panel, I like how flat it is, easy to transport, and looks mighty nice when varnished. There is a problem though — dust, fuzz, hairs, dirt. It shows up and is more obvious on panel than canvas. I went from working in at home, where my cat would shed and sometimes jump up and rub his fuzzy ass on my wet artwork. Going through with tweezers and such never got everything out, and after a coat of varnish, the spots I missed became more pronounced. Then I moved into my studio last May, but, I moved in with a fiber artist into a 100 year old former car factory…yeah, lint, grime and fuzz, it happens.
In taking steps to get rid of as much crap on surfaces as I could before varnishing, I’ve found that fine sandpaper with a bit of turp or linseed works great and doesn’t take off the layer of paint. I also followed advice I found online about using shop towels instead of paper towels for wiping off my brushes etc…
It works great, and does not contain as much lint and fibers as a cloth or paper towels. I actually used it to dry wipe a painting done 10 months ago and was shocked at how much dirt came off of it! Shop towels are oh-so handy!
So canvas. I love it, the skin tones are easier to work with, I like the feel of rubbing paint deep into the nooks and crannies of the canvas. Plus, it seems to age better and the paint can breathe in a way. I just hate it when it gets droopy or warps with the weather changes (although it isn’t an issue if they are thick). My newest series I’ve been doing on canvas, and I was thinking of going back to it for good — that is, until this large painting came home to me looking like this…..
And this is only the main damage, there’s more bizarre indentations near the bottom. I’m running over in my head how this could have happened, all the scenarios, and how this obviously wasn’t damage caused by shipping alone since the other painting — done on panel — in the same box was unharmed as well as the packing material in tact. She traveled to Art Basel, DC, and more. No problems, until she finally came home. Thank you Mercury Retrograde!!!
I think this is the universe telling me that canvas is too delicate and I should stick with the panel despite the dust, fuzz, and hairs that drive me crazy. I’m currently weighing my options as far as having this painting repaired (a pro job is just too expensive), it looks like I will be doing it myself even though I’m totally inexperienced at it, but I guess it is good to know these things. I know it will never be restored to the same glory as it once was, but I’m so thankful to have enough friends who are art handlers and work in restoration who have advised me the past 2 days during this crisis. I actually cried for several hours after staring at this damage. I didn’t know I could care so much; besides the fact I never cry about anything!