What are ‘Nature’s Secret’ stretchers?
Since I have been working in the Treehouse Studio, enshrouded by Nature’s structures, angular stretchers seemed to be more and more ‘inadequate’ over time for producing the kind of natural, energy-infused imagery I strive to depict. The result didn’t feel like the ridges of bark that wrap around a tree, or the lightness of a cloud, or the infinite diversity that is every single thing in nature. Countless leaves on countless trees, yet every single one is different. Nature creates with minute building blocks and as they organically grow into what they become, made from the same ‘stuff’ we are made of, they result in unique, complex structures that are mysterious, elegant and beautiful. Is it no wonder nature’s energy makes us feel good and we refer to her as Mother Nature? We are made from the same stuff as nature which makes us all part of a natural family.
This is nature’s beautiful secret and this is what I wanted to capture.
I set out to come up with a way to create a stretcher that felt more like nature so that not only the image ON the surface of the canvas depicted nature, but the very thing itself from its building blocks up, was created in a way that nature would create it. Additionally, the earth is an oblate spheroid, it is elliptical. It’s not flat, it’s not square so why should the canvas be? This created another level of complexity to the problem but one that was worth solving. The overall shape should feel more like the curve of the earth, like looking at a horizon as such a scale that the curvature of the earth is apparent.
Setting out to solve this problem, ‘Nature’s Secret’ canvases are the result. These uniquely shaped, curved canvases become natural objects in and of themselves which adds to the integrity of the overall presentation. They feel like they could have fallen from the sky or you’d see them as a land mass on a map, or as a leaf dangling from a tree. They’re not just pictures of something that was created in nature, they are natural things that with their imagery, capture nature’s beauty, light, energy, infinite compositions, complexity and wonder.
In the design and construction, there is a layered, ridged edge which is drawn freehand for each layer and built on the previous layer beneath it in much the same way a tree grows and adds another layer to its surface (these layers are depicted in the rings in a cross section). Once the layers are cut, they are screwed and glued down to a curved backplane so that as the glue seizes, they lock in the curved surface. From there, keyholes for hanging are installed and handles for, well, handling.
The canvas is then stretched around them so that the reflexive surface can provide the push-pull that only stretched canvas can provide. There’s a reason its been done this way for centuries! These stretchers combine all the benefits of traditional painting with something completely new. The cutouts then become the hanging plates that are used for painting the painting and ultimately for hanging.
READY TO PAINT!!!! Here we see the results of the unique ‘ridged edge’