Craftsmanship in North Beach

San Francisco is the best city to walk around. I didn’t have a vehicle while attending S.F.A.I. and I am glad I didn’t. I walked to and from school, work and would take the bus ever so often to see friends out in the avenues. The school is located in North Beach and I couch surfed for about a year and then secured an apartment on the outskirts of the tenderloin on O’Farrell Street. While walking to classes I got to really see the gamut of San Francisco’s stunning architecture from the apartments and houses. I started to think about craftsmanship frequently. While attending my first painting class at S.F.A.I. under one of my favorite professors, Julia Couzens, I was painting on anything I could find: cardboard, old t-shirts gessoed to cardboard and scrap plywood with no structural backing. I was developing my painting, but the surfaces I was painting on left a lot to be desired. Julia noticed this and politely suggested I start taking pride in all areas of my painting craft. I.E. pay attention to my surfaces and substrates. If the surfaces aren’t up to par, this degrades the painting overall and can attribute to the physical breakdown of the painting. I had learned how to stretch my own canvas and build my own wood panels back in North Carolina and enjoyed the process. I had let this go to the way side either due to money, time or just laziness (I wanted to get on with the painting!). It takes a decent amount of time and when care is taken, I would have a unique and fine tuned painting all the way down to construction of the panel or canvas. Some artists purchase pre-made canvases and some make their own. Today I do a mix of both. I purchase pre-made canvases when money allows and I build and stretch my own when time allows. Both are reliable and provide timeless works to last generations. I am always trying to improve my craftsmanship and today, as I construct some wood panels for a batch of new work, I am reminded of Julia’s concern and thank her for planting this seed in my head some 18 years ago.

“Officer’s Quarters on Alcatraz”
oil on wood panel

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