Curious Meanderings from an Artist's World
Stripped to Stretched
I have been stretching canvases the last two days.
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I found ready made canvases with thick stretchers 12" square in Big Lots a couple of weeks ago. The canvas was cheap and tore easily. It was also too smooth for my style. But the stretchers were great and I can't make my own stretchers for $5.00.
Besides, I love stretching and preparing my own canvases. So I bought a bunch of them and stripped the cheap canvas off of them, replacing it with more sturdy 12 oz. cotton canvas that I got at Cheap Joe's a while back. Then I gessoed them thickly and quickly, which leaves a rather rough surface to paint on.
Some artists prefer a smooth surface, so they sand and gesso and sand and gesso, but I prefer the rough surface and hate sanding. So the finished product was quick and perfect for my style. ( By the way, I'm going to give all those Big Lots canvas pieces to the local art group so they can use it in whatever way suits them. That way it won't be wasted, but will be recycled.)
I find that the process of stretching and preparing my own canvas is a good way to lead up to painting. It is creative foreplay, you might say. As I work on the canvases, I am thinking about what sort of subject I am in the mood to paint. By the time I get around to actually painting, it goes fast and easy because inspirationally, I'm already half way there.
Are you or are you not?
Being self-taught, I didn't learn to stretch my own canvas until about six or seven years ago. I didn't know what I'd been missing. If you have never stretched your own canvas, you're a bit of an artistic virgin and it's time you try stretching your own canvas. You may find you've missed out on one of the simplest joys of being an artist.
As for the rest of you who are saying things like, "Never stretched a canvas? Baby! Wimp!", I say never belittle a virgin. I'm a mother, and that's not nice. Remember. You were a virgin once, too.