Sunday, November 29, 2009
Layers Of Experience
I lay each stencil on a thick cotton mattboard and measure the distance between the edges of each. The board is larger than necessary to allow for a generous border as well as a few extra centimetres to be trimmed in the unlikely event that the edges are crumpled during consignment. I'm particular about my work being received by my collectors in perfect condition.I paint the image through the stencil. I let it dry for 24 hours. Each stencil is painted three times, with 24 hours between coats. When the third layer is touch-dry, I peel away the stencil from the cotton mattboard – very slowly. Using my fingers, tweezers and a fine blade, I remove it piece by piece. I ruin the first two attempts: I'm impatient and pull the stencil away carelessly. The surface of the multi-ply mattboard lifts and tears; the brittle enamel paint peels off with the stencil. On the third, I smudge a crisply painted edge and leave a fingerprint in the middle of a face. Mistakes like these can't be corrected. The materials ruined are expensive and a lot of valuable time is wasted. I force myself to work at a snail's pace.It's not until the final piece of stencil has been removed that I can see if the image is any good. Like most things, if I narrow my focus not on the end result but each step of the process, it always turns out better than I dare hope.