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If You're Reading This... | The Keay
If You're Reading This... by Steph Keay

If You’re Reading This…

Posted In: Arts & Culture | Home | Personal

Every once in awhile, I get bitten by the creative bug. I’m no artist by any means, but I love the idea, the practice, and the feeling of doing art. I know to truly pursue art means endless hours and tireless effort, which I just don’t quite have. That said, I enjoy dabbling in art whenever I get a great idea or feel the need to do something different.

This time, the idea came to me because of a friend’s upcoming housewarming. As I was brainstorming gift options, I got the idea to recreate a painting of Drake’s (who he positively reveres) album cover for the mixtape “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.” However, instead of the words “Too Late,” I wanted to substitute in our friends’ nickname for his house: Wolf’s Den. I thought it would be a fitting housewarming gift, because it was useful as a piece of art to decorate the new home, as well as clever in its modern take on the classic “Welcome” and “Home Sweet Home” signs.

I started thinking about sizing, the best mediums and techniques to use (considering my fairly novice skill set when it came to painting). I settled on a 20 x 20 canvas, primed with Gesso, and two oil-based paint pens in black—with extra-fine and medium tips. I was most concerned about bleeding, since the lines of this piece would need to be pretty crisp. I consulted the owner of the art supply store near my place, who helped me tremendously in picking out these materials. (It’s really lovely to meet people who are clearly so passionate about what they love, that they want to share it with other people.)

Anyways, Mr. Beeger, of Mona Lisa Artists’ Materials, kindly helped me out and I had all I needed to get started. The first step was to create a graphite transfer for the piece, and while this is much easier with a printer, I don’t have one at home. I just taped several pieces of regular printer paper together to form a 20 x 20 square (same size as the canvas). Then I pulled up the lettering in the real-life size I needed on my computer, and traced out each small section by section until I had the entire album cover outlined on the taped pieces of paper (some of the letters for “Wolf’s Den” had to be customized). After that, I covered the back of the papers in pencil.

Next, I lined up the paper with the primed canvas, and traced over the outlines, so that the pencil underneath would impart a faint line onto the canvas. I prepped the oil-based paint pens, and traced each letter out, then filled it in with the thick marker one by one (so I wouldn’t smudge anything as I moved from left to right, and from top to bottom). The image detail at the bottom was all done with the extra-fine tipped paint pen. The whole process took quite a bit, since canvas isn’t completely smooth, so you have to be careful when writing on it.

I put it away to dry, and voila—it was complete! I’m pretty happy with the result, and I’ll probably leave it unvarnished for now since I couldn’t find a definitive answer as to how long to wait for it to dry properly (and the housewarming is on Saturday). I definitely want to experiment with this medium more when I get a chance, although I think I’d pick something in a smaller format, and a concept with more room to make mistakes. Black and white is not very forgiving, and an errant smudge on this piece would’ve been the end of me, I swear. I was so focused I hardly looked up to watch the Flames game, and it was an amazing one at that (we whipped the Panthers 6-0).

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