Thursday, December 30, 2010

5 Ways to Beat Creative Burnout

Suffering from creative burn out after the rush of the holiday season is just part of the job. This year has been no exception. It is nothing to worry about it.

These are sure fire ways to get those visions of sugar plums out of your head, and get the visions of art back in.

  1. Clean and make improvements to studio space
  2. Spend quality time with a shovel or any other manual labor preferably outdoors
  3. Take very long walks
  4. Scrub floors with a scrub brush
  5. Spend the day with grand kids and horses (my favorite)
This year I have been finishing and texturing sheet rock in my new space. It didn't take long for the ideas and visions to start filling my mind.  I am sketching them daily and already raring to get back to work in the studio.

But I will wait.

 I hope to be ready to move into my new space next week/ next year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Wishes and a Song

We wish you all the special happiness the Christmas Season brings filled with peace, love and joy.

And some special Holiday music for you.

Monday, December 13, 2010

A Feeling of Accomplishment

The portrait of Max for his human that misses him so.

I have a feeling of accomplishment.
This has replaced the rush and near panic that has been with me since the first of November and the start of the construction project.
And my usual mode of operation I either call "chasing my tail" or "running in the family hamster wheel".

It just happened and came out of no where.
 Calm, peace and a deep sense that I have managed to keep all the balls in the air.
 Or something.
I make an effort to recognize goals when I reach them and give myself a little pat on the back, but it usually something I have to remember to do. (One more thing)

But this time was different. I have been wondering why...

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Willie Nelson Concert

Woo Hoo! It was awesome! No zoom here yall I had the camera sitting right up there on the stage.
I don't hardly go to concerts or anywhere else for that matter any more. Don't like big crowds or driving in cities. I'm thinking sweet Willie knew that about me and played this very small sold out concert in Mountain Home Arkansas. There was only about 1000 people . Willie and the band were sooo good. He sang all my favorite songs and signed autographs after the show. When he sang "Me and Paul" he changed the lyric from "almost busted in Laredo" to "busted in Laredo". The crowd went absolutely wild.
This is from my seat.
Saw the infamous tour bus, but the security guys couldn't be bribed with a check. :(

Had a 60 mile trip through mountain roads to get home and saw more deer than cars, but didn't even hit one.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Peek in the Studio

Sometimes I see photos people post of their studios. I am always green with envy. My studio never looks like that....and then there are days like Sunday. After working on packing, framing and last touches on portraits....OMG

Warning: Photos may be disturbing to some viewers. (especially me)

But I got to the post office and it's better now. (but not much)
Every year it is like this with the last minute portraits and all the shipping to do for Christmas. I have finished the last four portraits. Two of them were these adorable kids. I am so glad to have them finished and all the shipping done.

I am thankful for all my customers and the great number of sales
and anxious to get to work on the new space.
Does your studio get neck deep around the holidays?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Shipping Blues and Portraits

My shipping department is all tuckered out.

Tonka has been working pretty hard with all that shipping to do. His favorite part is going to the post office.
While Tonka is busy running the shippping department I have been doing some portraits. This is soon after starting.

And this is the finished lifesize pastel portrait of this beautiful boy. His parents will be thrilled with this thoughtful gift.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Winds of Change


The south wind blows in warm air and rain, then it turn and comes from the north with the blasts of cold air across the mountain. I think of the stories I've heard from native elders of the battling of the winds. I see the south wind son winning the battles. Then the North wind son grows stronger and starts winning.

The horses feel this change as they face the wind manes flowing in the south wind, turning their backs to the north wind. 

I stand in gratitude of so many things this season.
Happy Thansgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lost and Found

To say things have been chaotic around here would be putting it very lightly. The construction is still underway at the barn. I spend alot of the day running after various do dads and what nots for the crew.
Sales have been brisk in my etsy shop and on the website, thank God and all my loyal customers and collectors.
I sold a couple of watercolors. I went to the large drawer where I keep all them.
I found one straight away,
 the other nowhere to be found.
I searched and searched.
I found these three paintings that I had forgot about.
I searched some more.
I find another little stack of watercolors I need to photographh.
And finally just before I go into a full blown panic I find it.

I wonder about myself sometimes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Barn Apartment Construction

My housing situation since moving in to assist the elderly parents... well not so good.
First I tryed living in the main house but discovered the three, yes 3 TVs running 24/7 was way to much for me. NowI live in the tepee in the summer and it's awesome. But the winters in the studio....

I built a studio in part of an old greenhouse. It's a pretty good space but no running water and no clothes closet, plus to live in too ... not really big enough.

After building the barn last year my plan was to build a small aptartment in there. I went to my freind Diana at DK Berg Designs. She is a fabulous space planner and since the space is only 12 x 24' I needed every inch to count.

The plan was to start at the beginning of November. Even though this is the busiest time of year in my business it is the best time for the horses to not be using the barn.

After visiting the Habitat for Humanity Restores around Arkansas and finding some great deals on windows, doors and an adorable bathroom vanity I was ready to get started.

I called James and the crew that built the barn. The guys like lots of construction workers these days are very glad to have the work. As with the barn they are just doing the basics and I will do all the finish work.

Most of the framing lumber came from a local sawmill. It was a great price but to get it takes a trailer and digging through the stacks to get to the wood that I needed.
The insulation for the walls I bought at 1/2 price because of ripped bags at the local home store.

The septic system was put together from two 55 gallon drums and these great online instructions.

It's a good thing I did all this to save money because everthing else went over budget, mostly from my miscalculations and all the extra stuff I didn't know I needed. The shower stalll alone costs a whopping $500, twice as much as I figured. But I like it.

     The guys will be finished by next week. There will still be plenty more for me to do.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Spirit Horse Note Cards

So many of my fans and collectors have asked for note cards.
After much searching I found Caleb and Emily Designs
 I received them and was absolutely thrilled.

The blank note cards are professionally printed on heavy fine art paper. They are packaged in sets of six (two of each design) and come complete with white envelopes.

Just imagine how adorable they will look peeking out the edge of a stocking or the warm feeling a faraway friend will get when they see these precious little ponies.

A great gift for all the horse lovers on your list.

And my favorite part:

Super Fast and Easy Shopping
Lancaster Art

Monday, November 15, 2010

Sunday Bloody Sunday

This is the opening weekend of modern rifle deer season here in the Ozark Mountains. It's like a bloody holiday here. You won't see many menfolk working at their jobs this weekend, a tradition. It's time for the deer woods, drinking, gambling and other male/ family bonding time.

Although I have witnessed this tradition here I have never joined in. Alcohol and fire arms is not something I want to be a part of, but still...I deer hunt with my cars :(

I do regularly reap the rewards. Today it was two rib cages. Not much meat on em but some. I gave one away to a fella that was here helping me move sheet rock for the new barn apartment. (more on that in another post)

So I had one ribcage. I decided to get the hacksaw and cut it in small enough pieces to put in my dog food cooking pot. After throwing a small tarp on the patio table I went to work. There was luckily two other bones in the bag to keep Tonka busy while I worked. Although they were unwieldy they cut up pretty fast. I hosed them off and double packaged them in plastic grocery store bags. Seven I dropped in the freezer. That'll give Tonka meat for months and he'll like it.

Tonka's Food
I feed Tonka dry gravy dog food mixed with what I cook him. It varies some depending on what I can get free or cheap. I start by boiling  a pound or two of meat in a pretty good sized pot and then add 2 or 3 cups of brown rice. After the rice is cooked I put in anything else I have like leftover veggies. (Right now I have some baby food and rice cereal that was expired and was getting thrown out at a local store.)

After the soup cools I refrigerate it. A pot will last him a week or ten days. I spoon it over his dry food, add hot water and stir. He loves it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mystery Solved

Now I know where all those sketches came from I don't remember doing.
Everyone is a critic.
 I need to give her a paint brush.

Golden Moon
My latest construction project has me very preoccupied. It'll be finished soon I hope and will get back to a more normal schedule.

Been painting some and selling lots. It's a good thing as my new barn dwelling is going way over budget. I may be able to squeak by and get most of it done.

Will post photos of it soon.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dark Horse


My painting for today is Stargazer. It is an 8x8 gallery wrap canvas.
Available at Lancaster Art.

Have a safe a happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Fear Factor

Today I want to share a few thoughts on fear. There is rational fear designed to keep us safe and alive. Then there is irrational fear based on no reason whatsoever. This will be the focus today.

Rational fear:  Trapped in a Cave
Irrational fear: blank canvas

                       It is crazy, but I have certainly felt this way.
Or worse get half way through a really great painting and then get frozen with fear that I would screw it up.
                       When I was a young artist I used to watch a German painter on PBS. I never liked his style of painting/teaching, but I loved his philosophy on life and art. The one thing he said that has stayed with me all these years is:
(and you have to imagine the German accent)

"I used to go to the canvas and shake but NOW THE CANVAS SHAKES!"

I still periodically feel the fear but to get through it I consider myself going into battle. I put my warrior princess hat on, take a breath and get the canvas to shake.

Sometimes the canvas will bend to my will easily. Sometimes it is a fight.
Even if the battle is furious and I lose, the worst that happens is a slightly bruised ego and a canvas goes into the trusty wood stove where all my artistic sins are cleansed.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Getting my Head Back into Painting

Messenger sold
It's been a busy week here Jo Anne returned from the hospital after her heart attack. She is doing very well.
I talked Dad into going to the nursing home for respite care and physical therapy. He will go next week.
Ive spent alot of time talking to doctors, nurses and other health care people.
Then there are the renters and all the stuff with the rental properties, Dad and Jo Anne's business that we run (are stuck with) now.

Then I try to sit down to paint in between. I think I will never be able to get my head wrapped around it. I flip through my numerous sketchbooks filled with ready made ideas and escape.
Sisters of the Horse

I think with all the distractions I've had the paintings will suffer, but I've found some of my best work comes out of times of great stress and many distractions.
After all these years it's autopilot. Sit at the easel.....and it just comes.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Of Hay Bales and Heart Attacks

Sometimes the drama.......
            We start out the weekend with a passel of kids for some good outdoor fun with horses and farm chores. The hay was cut and getting ready to be baled.
       By Saturday night we had 6 kids, three elderly folks,three women and a stack of large pizzas. I was passing out milk and animal crackers to the children. My step mother Jo Anne walks through the kitchen talks to me, takes ten steps into the living room and collapses on the floor. She had enough strength to call out to me to call an ambulance. I grab one of the house phones. One of the kids had pushed a button and no dial tone. I holler for someone to find a cell phone. 911 was called, my stepbrother was fetched from his place on the farm. I sent the kids out on the patio and by the time the first responders were starting to roll in the kids were on the cellar making ambulance sounds. I herd kids and dogs into the studio while the other adults dealt with the ambulance and stuff. It was a heart attack and a bad one. She was life flighted to the city had a stint put in a couple of hours later. Stable...thank God.
      The hay started getting baled on Sunday afternoon. All the kids were gone but one. Paula and I and 10 year old Terra get 50 bales up that night. I lift bales but know better. I sleep with a heating pad around my wrist. That bad break from that bad landing. Terra goes home.
    Monday rolls around no help in sight. Paula brings her 90 year old mom. We feed her and Dad before heading out to the field. I take only one glove to keep me from using my left hand. Paula loads I drive the truck and trailer. I pull the bales off with one hand while Paula stacks them in the barn.
    Lunch for the parents and us. They are doing fine. Mike shows up to finish baling. We get another trailer full and put in the barn. We get slower. It's 4 and we fill the trailer again. Help shows up. We count bales left on the ground and decide to sell 50 bales. A few phone calls later we have folks pulling up to pick it up. My niece brings dinner for us all. We are done, tired and relieved. We have 200 bales up for winter. It starts raining after midnight.
       Jo Anne is being released from the hospital today.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thoughts on Being Trapped in a Cave

My sister Dale and I waiting for rescue.

As I watched the miners being rescued  my mind turned back to that Monday in May. I've been thinking about it allot through out this whole ordeal with the Chilean miners.
What really struck me is the sunglasses they were wearing and how I wished I had sunglasses that day.

It's been what 12 or 14 years now, a beautiful May morning and a girls day out adventure. It was me, my sister Dale and Jo Anne. Jo Anne was in her 60s and her son owned the land this huge cave was on.
I had been in the cave several times and my sis and I had explored this very deep section once. We had planned to go back in and look for a passage to another even deeper section I had heard about. Jo Anne wanted to go and check it out.
All went well as we descended climbing, and crawling a half mile or so down. We enter a small room with a flow stone on one side and a small hole that is the entrance to a corkscrew like tunnel going up. I go in first as I am the most experienced spelunker. I twist my body while climbing up the rocks stuck in the clay and gravel that make up the tunnel. Twenty feet or so it opens up to a room the size of a football field strewn with rocks the size of cars and buses. The other gals crawl through with no problems. 
We all have a great time looking at formations and exploring the huge room and several others that connected to it. We were still looking for the other passage when suddenly I said "Lets go". Dale was surprised and did not like the way I said it. We still had another half hour or so before we had planned to leave. She swears that is the moment the tunnel collapsed. I don't know I just got nervous all the sudden and  felt it was time to go.

I crawled down the tunnel to find rocks had fallen and the exit was only big enough to get my hand through. I hollered at the others not to come down and waited.
Soon our spotters showed up and realized we had a BIG problem.

In Arkansas there is a group that is trained for cave rescues. I didn't know about them until that day. Our rescuers were called and we busied ourselves getting supplies in through the small hole thinking we may not have it very long. Sleeping bags were twisted up into a long small rope to fit through the hole. We carried up water, a thermos of coffee and some food. The cave rescue team sent up a walkie talkie. We settled down in our make shift camp, drank coffee, ate lunch and waited.

 We talked about what could happen if the whole tunnel goes (hoping we weren't in it at the time) and the only way out would be to drill through the mountain. Weeks or longer? There was no way of knowing how deep inside the mountain we really were.
And then there were the  news crews that were showing up outside. When we heard that we made a decision. If any reporters were on the property we weren't coming out no matter how big they made the hole. I've had my ass in a crack plenty of times but didn't really want the whole world knowing about it. They were asked to leave and did.

The walkie talkie would squawk and call us down into the tunnel. Dale and I would take turns going down and moving rocks. We would also work on the bracing they were putting in to stabilize it. It was dangerous work from our end.
We found out the mayor of a local town showed up with a pickup filled with fried chicken and pizza donated by local restaurants. There was a crowd of people outside playing Frisbee, eating and helping with any thing the rescuers needed. I wanted pizza and a couple were brought down and rolled up in the box and stuffed through the little hole. Messy but good.

After 11 hours they called  and wanted me, the smallest, to try to slide out through the log bracing. I stayed in the tunnel for about an hour until the rescue team gave me the go ahead. I carefully eased out the hole into the flow stone room.
Now I hadn't been panicky through out this whole day but stepping out of the tunnel I got freaked out.
The lights nearly blinded me, battery powered but still bright. When I could see anything at all it was a room full of people. I had trouble standing up and felt very disoriented.
I needed sunglasses. That's what made me think of this whole thing again, the sunglasses.

I could see as Jo Anne and then Dale came out, the flow stone had shifted. The whole thing.

Luckily it was almost dark by the time we got outside to see the news helicopters overhead shooting pictures.

The cave rescue team was awesome and made something which could been a disaster for us into a just another adventure.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Art Business, Business, Business

The last month I have immersed myself in business. Getting the website up was a huge project, there was the big honking T shirt project and adding more prints.

The website is fantastic. Clicpik was certainly the right choice for me. All went pretty smooth until it came time to pay my yearly $54 fee. My bank would not let me use my debit card for an overseas transaction. I had to go to the bank and do a bank transfer. No only did it cost me $40 but took a while as the gals down there did not have a clue how to do it.

Did I say I live in a really small town?

If you haven't checked it out you can here.

Then there was the tshirt project. This was different for me as I have only ever done paintings and had no desire to sell t shirts but....
I had this idea mainly because this is how I describe myself. It kept kicking around in my head and would not leave me alone.

So I finally did it.
It came with a myriad of issues as well, from getting my local printer to produce anywhere near my time frame, to promotions and now the big storage issue in my already cramped studio.
I ordered adorable tags from with my paintings on them
and purchased resealable cello bags for the T's.
They officially went on sale yesterday and the sales have been good so far. I've got my fingers crossed.

I keep adding more prints of my paintings. Across the Universe (above) and Outriders (top) will be available real soon.
 I have been using Fine Print Imaging. They are fantastic! If you decide to have prints made I would highly recommend these great folks. If you use me as a referral (Diana Lancaster) they will show me some love and $.

I am soo ready to get back to painting.
Whew, all the business stuff just makes my head spin.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Skinny Catfish

Available here

My friends came to fish at the pond yesterday. They made some catfish bait using hot dogs, strawberry koolade and garlic. It worked very well. They caught a bunch of catfish, but ended up throwing them back because they were so thin.
I feel bad because I haven't fed them all summer thinking they could fend for themselves.
 Plus if critters aren't following me or making a rukus I figure they are ok. I'm off to the feed store again to get some fish food.

I dreamed last night my man came to cut my hay. With a full week of dry weather expected I am hoping dreams really do come true.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Come and Play! Contest on Facebook

YeeHaw! We are going to play a game on facebook… and the winner will get a brand spanking new T shirt. Tell us your favorite horse name. It can be a real or imaginary horse but only one name please. Ya’ll will be choosing the winner by the number of “likes” the name has. Hint: you can invite your friends to come, play with us and vote for your entry. JThe game will end at 5pm on Friday. I will announce the lucky winner before evening feeding time on Friday Oct 1st. (That’s 5:30 central) Have fun!

Here is the place to go: Lancaster Art on Facebook.

The EOCD t shirts are available here.

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Website

Miami and I are doing the happy dance.
The new website is up. Go take a look and let me know what you think.

Our barefoot trimmer was here today and all three of my horses were perfect.

 Tonka needed some words as he likes to get underneath the horses for his hoof snacks.
A beautiful fall morning to spend in the barn.
My trimmer is so knowledgeable about horses I learn something every time he comes.
I feel very blessed.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Inventions I'd Like to See

Happy Spirit Horse at Lancaster Art

So many new things get invented everyday.... things I could never dream of...
and then there are inventions I wait for.

Here's my list:

  • An app for my phone that tells me if I left the water on at the barn.
  • Helium filled breast implants.
  • A riding vacuum cleaner
Do you have any inventions you'd like to see?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Walk In And Out of Many Worlds


"I walk in and out of many worlds."

In my mind are many dwellings. Each of the dwellings we create ourselves - the house of anger, the house of despair, the house of self pity, the house of indifference, the house of negative, the house of positive, the house of hope, the house of joy, the house of peace, the house of enthusiasm, the house of cooperation, the house of giving. Each of these houses we visit each day. We can stay in any house for as long as we want. We can leave these mental houses any time we wish. We create the dwelling, we stay in the dwelling, we leave the dwelling whenever we wish. We can create new rooms, new houses. Whenever we enter these dwellings, this becomes our world until we leave for another. What world will we live in today?

Creator, no one can determine which dwelling I choose to enter. No one has the power to do so, only me. Let me choose wisely today.

                                                                             --Joy Harjo, CREEK/CHEROKEE

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


The Divine

Epona, the divine mare

 I took some time out from working on my website to research some ancient myths about horses.  I found some interesting stories on Epona.
In Gallo/ Roman religion, Epona was a protector of horses. She was particularly a goddess of fertility and was often depicted with foals. The goddess and her horses were leaders of the soul in the after-life ride.
 The feast day set to celebrate Epona is Dec. 18, which is also my birthday.
This is also the source of the word pony.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Choosing A Website Provider for Artist


After much searching I have found a website provider that is perfect for me.

And the winner is Clikpic!

In my search I found very nice websites that were too expensive....
very cheap ones that well... were not the look I was going for.
 there were the ones that took forever to load.

Then I found Clikpic which was everything I was looking for.

  • Based out of the UK

  • cost 35 lbs or $54 per year

  • designed for artists and photographers

  • two weeks free trial

  • lots of pretty easy to understand instructions

  • slides shows and other great options
                                     I'm very excited to get it finished and online. I'll keep youu posted.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Dreams of Horses

8x8 canvas available at Lancaster Art

 The thunder starts in the distance waking Tonka and I. It grows closer, the thunder of hooves. The herd  circles the tepee, whinny, snort and take off galloping to the distant hill. The thundering hooves move closer again, this time they circle the tepee and stop.
I sleep again to the sound of grazing and dream of horses. 

Friday, September 3, 2010

My Green Paint Horse


I did this painting in honor of my green paint horse Miami. It cracks me up every time I use think of that term.
Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Artist Statement

Across the Universe

I've been trying to wrap my head around the business stuff lately which is no easy task for my right brained self. I did get my artist statement finished with a little help from the ideas from Heart of Business.
The spiritual approach to my business was a much better fit and easier to use my spirit than try to drag my left brain out of the cobwebs.
So here it is.

The Spirit Horse series is a contemporary vision of iconic images of the horse. Using myth and imagination I explore the ancient connection to the equine spirit.

Combinations of layers of texture with rich illuminating colors make an interesting surface filled with movement expressing the great freedom and mystery of the horse.

I strive to express the love and spiritual connection between humans and horses.

         What do you think?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fun With Collage

available at Lancaster Art

I did a black and white watercolor a while back called "Blue Blazes"

Sorry I don't have a photo of it on this computer and the other still sits in the shop.
 You'll have to pop over to Lancaster Art to take a look at it.

Anyway I liked this piece and wanted to take the image in a different direction. After cropping it I did a study in acrylic simplifing the black and white shapes.
The horses look like Gypsy Vanners so I decided to do a traveling theme. Topo maps I have of the national forest worked well for the white. I had to do a little searching to find the destinations paper used for the black.
I started with applying the topo maps to heavy watercolor paper using gel medium. Tracing paper was used over the study to make patterns for the black shapes which were carefully applied over the maps. It was all sealed in with the gel medium which gives it a glossy look.

I did another a bit more simplified one. I'm planning on playing with some color with that one. Seeing red.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fire Horses

Fire Horses
Prints available at Lancaster Art

This painting reflects the power of the horse....
 and the scorching hot temps we've had.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Cowgirl Way

The Cowgirl Way
available at Lancaster Art

I did this 14 x 14 collage for the Small Works on Paper exhibit and at the last minute decided not to enter.

It just seemed like too much trouble for no prize money and one more thing for me to do which right now is one thing too many.

Still minus one person here as my step brother is still out of state working. The parents have not been healthy this summer and between hospital stays and doc visits for them both I cherish the days when I can actually stay in the studio and work uninterrupted for just a few hours.

So today no doc visits... tomorrow at least one.

And its hot-record setting hot.
108 yesterday.
 Tonka and I have wimped out and slept in the studio the last two nights. No riding until it cools of a bit. The horses are grouchy and in the barn all day.
Even the chickens are panting and in a fowl mood.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Stuff

The tepee living has been awesome this year. Although it is very hot during the day the nights are cool and breezy up on the mountain. I have two sides pulled up and the door open. Thank God we don't have mosquitoes here. We have had some flies. They start buzzing about 6:30, but I am getting up that early to ride anyway before it gets too hot. I'm sweating allot less and I think Miami appreciates it also.

This is me trotting on Nadine, a lesson horse during a riding lesson. Things were not going well. She was not cooperating and my stirrups were too long.

My grand daughter Terra practicing her bareback riding on her horse Missy. I started her out with a neck rope to hold on to. I did not want her balancing on the reins. She never used it and developed great balance quickly.

As far as work goes I'm still in portrait world and hope to finish up in the next day or two and get back to painting.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Canvas Patterns

A charcoal portrait recently completed.

I am always searching for ways to make my studio more efficient. I thought of making canvas patterns for the most frequently used sizes of canvas. I finally got around to doing it. I used poster board and figured the size of canvas fabric I need to do the deep gallery wraps. After measuring and marking I cut out the patterns. Now when I get ready to cut a piece of canvas I don't have to do any measuring or even unfold the whole roll of canvas. I just get out the right size pattern, pull out a corner of the roll of fabric, draw the outline and cut it out.