I think what separates the art student from the professional artist is the quality of their stretcher. (OK, so maybe that’s the least of it ), but it certainly feels that way sometimes.
As a student it was all about experimenting with materials, with the image. These paintings were often ephemeral – try something and maybe paint over it and try something else. You didn’t really worry if someone was going to buy something. You didn’t loose any sleep over stretcher that might torque out of shape eventually or maybe didn’t have that great a shape to begin with.
Now it’s different, now quality is an issue and you want your work to stand the test of time. It needs to be square enough to fit into frames if required. It needs to be solid. You want your clients to feel confident that it won’t twist out of shape on their wall.
While there’s a certain amount of pride to be had in making your own perfect stretchers, I’m all for buying pre-assembled canvasses so I don’t waste time in construction but can get straight down to painting! However there are still those custom pieces where I need to dust off my carpentry skills (such as they are), haul out the miter saw and get busy.
Such is the case now that I am returning to my favorite 64″ x 64″scale for some “shell field” paintings. I must say that in the time it took me to prepare this perfect beauty I could have done a stack of paintings! I’M ALL FOR OUTSOURCING! Bring it!