Half Baked / by Susie Lubell

Half Baked

I have mixed media envy. I paint entirely with watercolor. I always have. There was a brief period while living abroad when I painted a few canvases in acrylic. One was a large chicken. In fact there might have been two chickens. One was a naked girl. Then I did some Rothko squares because we needed something to cover up the hideous mirror over the fireplace. Anyway, they all sucked. Mainly because there was no depth to them, no texture. Flat as my stomach was four score and seven years ago (apropos President's Day...) Where was I? Yes. My brief foray into something besides watercolor.

Because I love the way mixed media looks. The good stuff anyway. Heck, even the so-so stuff looks pretty good if there are enough bumpy parts and bits of stuff and drippy gobs. And you know what's also great about painting on canvas? You can just hang up the canvas. You don't have to frame it. Just put a nail in the wall and hang the thing.

I can't really do that with my work. It's a piece of paper. So I have to frame it and be sure that everything's archival and then there's glass involved which makes it heavier and more of a pain to ship. Who's feeling my pain here? Well I'd had enough of all that and so when it came to pass that I would be in this Enormous Tiny Art show, I went searching for a solution to hang my work as is. No glass.

I found Plywerk. I got a bunch of their maple panels that have notches in the back for hanging. They come with archival sticky on the back. Peel and press. And that's exactly what I did. And I used my exacto to trim the edges. Voila. They looked great. I packed them up and sent them away.

Let me digress for a moment. You know those blogs that are ever cheerful and always talking about how wonderful life is and how every moment is full of truth and how when your heart is open to the universe, the universe will give you a book deal? blah blah blah. Inspiring, true.  But they never tell you about the fuck ups. About the time they spilled a gallon of gesso on a near finished commission. Or how they went to a craft fair and sold nothing. Actually Marisa at Creative Thursday once posted about her experience at a craft show that was not going well and how she turned it around and I thought, this girl is awesome. Because she's real. But back to my story...

After a week, the panels that I did not send started to warp. Because my original work isn't flat. I tape it down when I'm painting but it still dries with a little warble to it. I know I should use those watercolor blocks but I always end up cutting the damn painting when I try to get it off. And then the edges started to peel away from the panels a tiny bit. And my growing concern about this was legitimized by the Enormous Tiny Art people who emailed me to tell me they were sending back the ones that were on panels (thankfully I'd also sent a bunch that were framed). They were kind about the whole thing. Nevertheless, I was mortified.

Now I'm out the money for the panels and my original art is half stuck to them and so much for my first art show. And as I was berating myself for being such a dope novice lump head, I thought maybe I should put them in the oven and see if they become unstuck? And, hoping they wouldn't spontaneously combust, that's exactly what I did. 250 degrees for fifteen minutes to be exact. And every piece came right off the panels without any sticky left on the paper. So I have my artwork back in tact and filed away safely for framing at a later time. And it turns out the sticky panels are great for prints because prints are very flat and every part of them sticks to the panel. Live and learn.

Do you have any disasters to share? Miscalculations? Half-baked ideas? Fully-baked ideas that sucked anyway? Come on. I won't tell anyone.