Building the Canvas
I found more scrap wood in the utility room. I cut it out with a handsaw and stapled it together with a staple gun. I stretched canvas onto the 16"x20" frame using the same procedure I used on the Granpa Genoa canvas. It took me about an hour to cut the wood, piece it together, cut the canvas from the roll and staple it onto the frame. I am a little bummed out because when I got it all together, I noticed it is not exactly square. You cannot notice it with the naked eye, but it will have an impact. What this means is the painting will have to be hung without a frame, or a custom frame will have to be made for it. After I made this discovery it dawned on me a very simple check would have been to take my stretcher pieces and lay one over top of each other and make sure they are exactly the same size. Next canvas I build, this will be the system of checks and balances I'll use to ensure I get a perfectly square canvas.
Tracing Paper and Squares
Next I taped two pieces of 14"x17" tracing paper together, (just one piece wasn't big enough!!!) and drew a grid of 1" squares with pencil. The grid on the tracing paper was to be an exact double of the grid I laid out on the black and white picture I printed on cheap computer paper. I only had scotch tape to use to tape the tracing paper together, so I used it sparingly, knowing I would not be able to draw onto the section where tape was. Nevertheless I tore the tape into small pieces and very loosely taped it together. This tracing paper is only a means to get the picture onto the canvas. I'm not sure I'll even save it when I'm done. In the past I used a video projector and shined the image onto the canvas and traced it out. Although a much quicker method, I believe I sacrificed the painting to some degree. The video projector ever so slightly distorts the image.
Here We Go!
Okay, now for the fun part! I transferred the smaller picture onto the big grid by simply drawing into each square what was there in the smaller version, following as closely as possible. Of course in my mind, I was thinking this was going to be a little easier than I expected. You might not think drawing something so simple would be a challenge, but there's a lot going on in this picture with all the shadows in the folds of their clothes. Their faces look a little strange now, but this grid basically gives me a map to know where to locate things. It is not meant to be a detailed work. It took me about two hours to complete the rough drawing.
What Comes Next?
Next step will be to prime the canvas. I hope to put about 4 or 5 coats of gesso on it, sanding between each coat. I will then lay down the imprimatura. Stay tuned!