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Clean As A Whistle

There are some artists, more clever than I, who post compelling videos on social media. The ones I'm thinking about demonstrate the satisfaction of removing tape from their paintings and revealing beautiful art with crisp, white edges. I can watch those things over and over again, but I can never create one myself.

I know how to shoot video, so it's not the technical aspect that holds me up. It's the fact that I have no guarantees of producing those white edges, free of paint and smear that has seeped underneath the tape.

I have tried. Many times. And sometimes it works, as in the case of this piece:

But typically, my work looks like I have really gone to town on it. I might have gotten overly enthusiastic with the palette knife that broke the seal, or I might not have adhered the tape as firmly as I should, or I might have removed the tape without wiping it down and then smudging the white space with schmutz from my gloves. Have a look at these examples of when I got sloppy, here:

and here:

More often than not, this is what my work looks like when I'm finished with it. I used to fret over this, as if I were failing some basic technique that everyone else knows but me. But then I decided to relax and let it be part of the organic process. These aren't prints, signed and numbered in the white space. These are hand-produced, one-of-a-kind works of art that are meant to be matted and framed.

So, no more worrying, and no more aiming for my work to be clean as a whistle. If I should happen to remove tape from a new piece and discover I haven't slopped all over the edges, then I will be amused, but I will not kick myself over making a mess in a space that's going to be hidden anyway. This just lets you now I was excited about the process of painting.

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