Physical effort. Some things take more physical then I think they will. They fool me every time. Maybe not every time. After all it’s why I put off this particular task. Wrapping paintings in plastic to keep the dust off them. That’s not something a successful artist who sells painting has to worry about but for those of us who are unknown and unsold it’s a problem. Dust build up over the years and gets into the nooks and crannies of the paintings. It can wreck things.

Besides dust wrecking things leaning a painting against another painting can wreck things too. I try not to do that but I have too many paintings in too small a space so I have to. I even built a painting rack to stop that from happening many years go but I filled that up. A thirty by forty inch painting can take up some real room. Wrapping the painting in plastic can help with the paintings not rubbing up against each other but if there is too much leaning weight on the paint it can still be a problem. I try to keep that to a minimum.

For my smaller paintings, the ones around eight by ten inches, I use envelopes and cardboard book mailers. A painting that size can slip into a ten by fourteen inch envelope and keep it clean. There is also not much weight to a small painting like that so there isn’t much of a rubbing issue once they go in the envelope. I keep them on a shelf so they’re not stacked up bearing each other’s weight. As you might imaging the smaller paintings are easier to handle and store.

I didn’t even have a ton of paintings to cover. I haven’t done much large painting in the last few years. I don’t have the room to store them. I had five paintings that were around the thirty by forty inch size plus another twelve paintings that were eighteen by twenty four inches. Less than twenty paintings. That shouldn’t take too much effort. Right?

There really isn’t much to wrapping a painting in plastic. All you need is plastic sheeting and some duct tape. The effort comes with the paintings being so big that I have to wrap them on the floor. It takes a lot more out of me working on the floor than working standing up. I’m not in bad shape. I like to cycle so I exercise regularly but working on the floor means I have to work kneeling and there is a lot of getting up and down going on. I have a rubber mat on the floor that I usually stand and work on so I tried to kneel only on that mat. I say tried because sometimes I forgot and kneeled for a bit on the hard tile floor. It’s amazing how much my knees hurt after doing that for a few minutes. I’m lucky enough to have good knees that never hurt so when they do it’s a shock.

The plastic sheeting comes on a ten foot roll so I pulled out a pencil and paper to figure out the size I would have to cut the plastic to for it to wrap an eighteen by twenty four inch painting. Remember how they tell you to measure twice and cut once? Well that didn’t help me because I added wrong. After I cut out the first three pieces they were too big. I went back and looked at my little diagram and saw I my mistake. I somehow figured I could only get three pieces across the ten foot length when I could actually get four. It kind of blew my mind a little that I messed up the simple math.

After the plastic is cut it’s time to tape them up. I place the painting on top of the canvas and then fold the sides in so they meet in the middle. Let them overlap a couple of inches. Then I run the tape down the seam from top to bottom and cut it off with my tape scissors. I have a separate pair of scissors for cutting tape because the tape glue always gums up the scissors. I take the tape residue off with rubber cement thinner but I don’t need the tape gumming up my everyday scissors. After that I fold the bottom corners over a little and then fold the bottom four inches up and tape that to the back of the plastic where the other seam is already taped. That leaves me with an open top on my “Envelope” where I left about four inches of plastic that can fold over and keep the dust out.

That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Doesn’t sound like much does it? But its the repetition that gets me. Seventeen paintings means I have to get down on the ground and then stand up again maybe sixty times. And it took me from two to three hours to do. Plus I had to dust the paintings first. Especially the big ones. I used my big soft drafting brush that I’ve had for thirty years but I had to carry the paintings outside to dust them off. It’s not as easy as you would think to dust a painting. The dust really sticks on there. Another thing that took more effort than I thought it would. Ain’t life like that?

Overall I’m glad I got this task done. I don’t think I’ve done this in five years. The fact that I haven’t done a ton of large paintings in that time added to my putting it off. Why pull out the plastic and tape for three paintings? Six paintings? Nine paintings? Next thing you know there are seventeen paintings. Things add up. Be careful when they add up to fatigue.