Why I Stopped Stretching Canvases
I stopped stretching canvases. I stopped buying stretched canvases. I stopped hanging stretched canvases, though, I am not against hanging framed canvases. In fact, I am all for it!
So, why did I stop with the stretching bit? What triggered it or caused it?
Maybe I am lazy? Highly unlikely. I can be called a lot of things, but not lazy. Actually, some think me to be over-energetic!
“Dancer and Trumpet” – acrylic on canvas 70/100 cm (right, ultraviolet ) @Barbara Adler Art – Oct.2021
To answer this, we need to answer some basic questions.
QUESTION #1: What is the stretching procedure?
First, one must cut the canvas large enough to cover the timber frame that it is to be mounted upon. Preferably, dampen the canvas prior to stretching. Then, the canvas will then be stapled/nailed to the wooden frame from behind. The canvas should be tight and straight as a drum. The next stage is prepping the canvas with a good base ground called “gesso”. Usually, the gesso’s come in white, black or neutral, though colored pigments can be added to make the base already with color. The base seals the canvas so the paints won’t be absorbed into the canvas allowing for a smooth flat surface to paint upon.
QUESTION #2: Why is it necessary to stretch a canvas?
Well, there are different approaches to canvas. The heavier the canvas is and is of good quality, it appears less important to stretch, as the canvas itself, which has already been prepped, will be heavy enough to prevent rolling of the edges or an un-flat surface to paint upon. We can safely say that heavy quality Italian linen canvas that has been prepped, doesn’t necessarily need to be stretched. If using a lighter-weight cotton canvas, it may be advisable to stretch prior to painting, as if stretching after, may cause cracking or peeling of paint.
“Light” – Acrylic on Canvas, 100/70 cm @Barbara Adler Art, Oct. 2021
So, as you see, I use only heavy Italian linen canvas. It comes prepped, but I always give it a fresh coat of gesso before getting down to business.
So here are my reasons for not stretching:
Rolled canvas takes up less studio space
I love painting on the unstretched canvas as it was paper, less intimidating!
It is easier to care for a finished painting; just roll it up and wrap it with a clinging wrapper.
Much cheaper and SAFER to ship. Just put the rolled canvas in a sealed tube and send.
I discovered that it allows for the dialogue with the painting to continue: the buyers/acquirers of my art are invited to partake in a dialogue where I left off and am not necessary: where, how to hang the work, what in their eyes will most suitable: the type of frame, maybe a floating frame, maybe a gothic frame. The frame gives an accent to the painting that may not have existed before. An interpretation that only the new owners can give.
Everybody needs art. There is Art for everyone’s state of mind, desires, and tastes.
Take a break, reflect and delve into some of my art, to my stories.
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