Canvas Painting For Beginners How To Stretch A New

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Canvas Painting For Beginners How To Stretch A New


Painters can either learn how to stretch their own canvas or buy them ready made. The advantage of buying pre-stretched and mounted canvas is that it saves time. The disadvantages include higher cost, it takes up a lot more room while transporting and storing and you have to settle for the standard sizes. This article will provide simple instructions and tips for stretching your own canvas.

The Materials Needed

The most common canvas materials are cotton (called Cotton Duck) or linen. Cotton is generally less expensive than linen and has a rougher surface. Cotton is also more inclined to warp from moisture which can ruin a painting by causing the paint to chip and crack. Linen, however, has stronger threads that resist pulling apart after being stretched on a frame. This makes it more suitable for long term archiving. Both materials are commonly available at most local art supply stores. Heavy unbleached calico from a fabric store will often do the trick and for less money.

The frame is usually made out of wood and comes from the factory with the four sides separated. The ends of the frame pieces are cut into a kind of tongue and groove fashion so that they fit together solidly by friction instead of with nails or staples.

Frames come in two basic strengths. Thinner, narrower sides are the least expensive and are suitable for paintings that have their longest side no longer than 25". For larger projects, wider and thicker wood sides are available and recommended.

The Instructions

1. Gather the following tools; staple gun, staples, scissors or exacto knife to cut the canvas, canvas pliers (optional) and a rubber hammer (optional). If you don't wish to purchase a soft rubber hammer just make sure that while assembling the frame that you do not pound directly on the wood with a regular nail hammer without something to buffer the blows.

2. Assemble the frame. This is really straight forward in that the ends fit together with friction. Resting the pieces on a carpeted floor and using a rubber hammer to pound the corners together will prevent gouging the wood. Some artists prefer to add a few drops of white wood working glue into the corners before fitting. This provides a more solid connection for the long haul. However, if you are using the frame only temporarily while painting and intent to remove the canvas and disassemble then do not glue.

3. Cut the canvas to fit the frame. Lay the assembled frame flat and measure the length and width. Each of these dimensions should include enough extra length for the canvas to wrap around to the back of the frame for stapling. Cut the canvas to these dimensions using heavy duty scissors or an exacto knife.

4. Staple and stretch the canvas over the frame. Start by wrapping the top of the cut canvas around the top of the assembled frame. Put about three staples through the canvas in the middle of the back of the top frame piece. The staples should be about 2" apart. Always work from the center of the frame sides out when stapling. Next, stretch the canvas to the bottom of the frame and staple in the middle of that frame side. Repeat on the left and right sides. At this point the canvas should have three staples in the center of each frame side.

Next stretch one side from the middle staples to one corner and staple. Move across to the opposing frame side and stretch from the middle to the diagonally opposite corner and staple. Repeat this until all parts of all frame pieces have been stretched. Finally fold the loose material at each corner neatly and staple in place.

The final step is to prime to canvas before painting. This neutralizes the natural canvas color, creates a smoother texture and prevents the paint from soaking into the material. However, this topic is too involved to address in detail in this article.

Even if you have the resources to buy ready made canvas it is wise at first to develop an understanding of this process and how it can impact the final painting by learning how to stretch your own canvas.

How To Stretch Canvas John has posted a series of detailed reviews and comparison charts of some of the best video painting courses. Learn which Painting and Drawing lessons are gems and which to avoid before you buy... Go to Painting Course Reviews




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