24 November 2010

1. How to make a canvas for an oil painting

and save money.  With smaller canvases, it's not so evident.  But large shop-bought ones can cost £70 for a 6 footer let's say - if you're lucky.
You can make one for £10 - £20, depending on your chosen materials.

So, firstly.  
Let me introduce you to my new friend, my mitre rotary saw, reduced from £150 to £85.  It's got a laser light for visible line cutting, but I've discovered you have to cut aside the guide light

I bought him to make frames, in a drive to save money.  It's all very well painting your pictures, but pro-framing costs eat into your empty pockets.

So I thought I'd jolly well make my own, with a little outlay and practice, & I've cracked the process.
3 frames later, and the saw has paid for itself, so long as I don't miscalculate my measurements and make too many bad cuts! 

So.  More about how to make a painting frame later.

Now to making canvases today ..... 

If you have a mitre saw, always wear your goggles, the wood flies off worryingly at the end of the saw motion, and needless to say, keep your fingers clear of the power cutting zone.
That part doesn't bear thinking about, does it.

Otherwise, without the mitre equipment, cut your wood lengths, I use pine, at a straight, block-edged 90-deg angle, with a saw, compensating 2 sides, as necessary, with shorter cuts.

1. Keep your wood balanced and straight when working, I use my painting easel which I can manipulate up and down for the work

2. Measure your length of wood accurately, always using millimetres, and cut 4 canvas edges to their correct size

 3. Using wood glue, in the first instance, (soft) fix your canvas square, or stretchers - & rest for one hour or overnight ideally. 
It's not hardy enough like this yet, one gentle tap and the stretchers will fall apart. 

So handle your frame carefully.

4. For that firm fix, secure the 4 corners with a countersunk (slender) screw

5. Then tack an edged beading, matching your frame size, to your square

The beading is essential to prevent your painting pressing against the wood, getting ugly unwanted markings on your art.
As you can see inside here, your canvas will be raised proud away from the wooden stretchers, for you to work the paints comfortably onto your canvas material alone

6. Applying the canvas.  Mine's unprimed.  (Some artists wet and stretch the canvas beforehand, but I don't find it necessary).
Start at the centre of a stretcher edge, and staple gun the canvas midpoint on the reverse.
Work at the opposite side and pull the canvas tight with gentle artist pliers (I use yellow wallpaper pliers), moving round the canvas, working at opposites to get that important tight stretch.  

You will see I've left the corners till last

7. For that final clean, tight pull, create your "nurses corners" as best you can.  
Bear in mind, too clumsy and fat, and you'll have difficulty framing your painting neatly at the end.

8. How to make rabbit skin glue here.
Gently warm your rabbit skin glue block to a painting liquid state

Try not to pass out, it's a rather grim natural material to work with

9. and double prime your stretched canvas, leaving it to set overnight

Your hard work has been rewarded, and your canvas is now ready to be painted.


Joanna said...

You make it look so easy Gill! I am exempted from using most power tools, they are too right handed. I got in a pitiful fight just today making soup - and had to be rescued, (oh the shame...this is why I'll never be a proper cook either) trying to put the liquidiser thingy on top of the Kenwood, I always want to turn everything the wrong way, or pull when I should twist.....

So what is going on to that perfect canvas?

Joanna said...

Did someone teach you how to do this or did you work it all out from t'internet ?

.. and I can use a staple gun and a lame... so I am not a completely lost cause :)

Gill the Painter said...

I should be exempt from using power tools.
If there's a wrong way to use it, that'll be me, Joanna.
But I'm a both-handed person, so I get there in the end.

I did teach myself how to do it, but am lucky to be nestled in an artist community.
So I don't have to go far to shout for help.

I seem to be managing well enough working it out on my own though.

The allotment guy David the Framer round the corner, has been great for that trickier advice.

You can't hide any mistakes on the painting frame!

art is in the kitchen said...

I paint and cook too but never dared make my own canvas. Thanks for sharing. This demystified the process for me! Cheers!

Gill the Painter said...

Good morning Arthur and welcome.
What a beautiful blog you have!

Unknown said...

What an exciting experience!/Hilarious! Delightful! True!/wonderful stuff! thank you!

oil painting on canvas

Odette said...

Hi Gill - I've been dying to see how you've been getting along with your frame making - and very well too! I'm a great proponent of making one's own canvases rather than buying one size and finish fits all bought ones - to get both the dimensions and the surface prep you like.

Love your comment about the rabbit skin size - stinky stuff innit! But what a perfect canvas!

Gill the Painter said...

Morning Odette.

These canvases are great to paint upon, but also great to make.
& I know r/skin glue is fairly difficult stuff to work with, but you know exactly what your paints are going onto.

& that they will last longer than I will.

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