February 20, 2015
Next month, The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) is heading back to basics with a canvas stretching teachers' workshop. Lending a hand in equipping the next generation of artists with strong foundational skills, the gallery hopes the workshop will serve as a refresher course for experienced practitioners and an introductory class for those who have little to no experience in canvas stretching. NAGB Educational and Curatorial Support Associate Abby Smith believes such building blocks are necessary for those serious about fine art.
"You should know how to stretch a canvas at some point in your career, as it helps cut the cost on buying materials like pre-stretched canvas, which can be expensive," she explained. "You can go into a store and see the high cost of pre-stretched canvas and primed canvas and compare that to buying a roll of canvas and strips of wood and stretching it onto the frame yourself."
Workshops like next month's canvas stretching class are designed to ensure that art educators are well versed in basic techniques. This in turn plays an important part in the ripple effect such knowledge can have among up-and-coming artists, who can use the skill for the duration of their careers. Some, like NAGB Director Amanda Coulson, believe that working on pre-stretched canvas can affect the degree of seriousness ascribed to artworks by dedicated and knowledgeable collectors. She likened painting on pre-stretched canvas - as opposed to the construction of a tailor-made, non-generic canvas - to "purchasing a pre-fabricated white mug and painting a design on it, compared to throwing your own mug on pottery wheel - creating a unique size, shape or texture - and glazing and firing it".
Coulson added: "There can be quality judgments made by professionals, museums or collectors, on paintings that are made on a store bought, standard-sized canvas as opposed to unique canvases made specifically for a piece."
Smith also feels that learning to stretch a canvas leads to developing a greater appreciation for the visual arts and fine artists.
"I hope the teachers get a better awareness for what it means to be an artist, a true artist. By that I mean someone who can produce their own materials for their artwork. Sometimes we take for granted the work or the process in creating artwork, so you want to pass this knowledge on to students. It gives them a better understanding of what artists go through. It gives them a better appreciation of the craft."
The class is scheduled for 10 a.m., Saturday, March 14 and will be held at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. Fine artist and NAGB Videographer and Installation Technician Jackson Petit will lead the workshop. Those educators interested in attending the class should register by Friday, March 6. The cost of the workshop is $30 per person, and each participant must bring his or her own staple gun and canvas pliers. There are 40 spaces available on a first come, first served basis.
For more information, contact Smith via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or NAGB Education Officer Corinne Lampkin at email@example.com or call the NAGB at 328-5800/1.
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