Do It Yourself — Creating Your Own Stretched Canvases

There comes a point, as an artist, when you put away the student-grade paint, the bargain canvases from the craft store, and the cheap, cheap brushes, and go professional.

It's not always easy to find the size of stretched canvas you're looking for at a good price, or on sale. To keep the quality where it needs to be, many painters learn how to build and stretch their own canvases. The Land of Chief Joseph, 24 x 40 on canvas, by Steve Henderson.
It's not always easy to find the size of stretched canvas you're looking for
at a good price, or on sale. To keep the quality where it needs to be, many
painters learn how to build and stretch their own canvases.
The Land of Chief Joseph
, 24 x 40 on canvas, by Steve Henderson. 

Now some people never reach this point, but if your goal is to sell your work and build a base of collectors, then you owe your present and future clients two things:

1) You need to paint well, like a professional, which involves many hours of work, learning, working through your frustrations, and actual time behind the easel (while this sounds painfully obvious, there are a shocking number of artists who paint precisely the way they did 30 years ago, and are convinced that everything they need to know now, they learned back then),

and

2) You need to use quality material that will last.

Now quality does not necessarily mean the most expensive, although it frequently means that what you purchase will cost more than the basic supplies marketed to the dilettante or amateur.

As one of the major factors of an oil painting is what it is painted on — chiefly stretched canvas or artist panels — it's not an unreasonable consideration to learn how to create your own stretched canvases, beginning with the stretcher bar frame, continuing with the actual stretching of the canvas, and finishing by sizing and priming the substrate.

If you've never done this before, it will initially seem daunting, and far, far easier to just buy what you need, ready-made, but to get the quality professional work demands, with options to customize the size of your finished painting, you may want to give Do It Yourself a second thought. It takes longer than buying it all prepared, but in the long run, it costs much, much less. The time invested pays back handsomely.

This video by fine art painter Steve Henderson provides an overview — that's the operating word here, overview — of the process. Subsequent videos break down the process with step-by-step instructions, and are published, as they are made, both at Steve's You Tube channel, Steve Henderson Fine Art, as well as the Free Videos section of his website.

–Carolyn

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