How to draw a painting on canvas using picture framer stretcher bars

It is very easy to draw a painting on canvas when you follow a few simple steps. When a painting is done on cheap canvas or any other bad material, it is best to consult professional picture framing as it is challenging and awkward to take some pictures. In this article you will learn how to draw a canvas painting, how to choose and cut a stretcher frame and how to finish a stretched painting so that you can hang it for display.

Artists have chosen a variety of surfaces for centuries, from raw plaster walls, wood panels, paper and fabrics to paintings. When an artist paints on fabric, it is common to create a canvas with a primer first. Priming layers are very important when it comes to not only providing the right surface for accepting paint, but also providing long lasting support that will not be easily damaged.

The following are steps to create a traditional canvas as a quick overview to help you understand the nature of painting on canvas.

The first step was to choose the right fabric. The artists preferred to use linen over other fabrics due to its strong fibrous construction and durability. Cotton canvas was a bad second choice when linen was not available. The fabric was traditionally coated with animal-shaped coats made of animal glue or pearl glue. These gums are made from gelatinous ingredients extracted from rabbit skin and other animal products. The purpose of the sizing was to coat each strand of fabric with a layer that would seal and secure the fabric when dry.

The second step was to make a mixture from the rabbit skin glue that was mixed with dead plaster and white or chalk. Dead plaster is made by shaking the plaster of Paris with water for half an hour. When you mix the plaster ahead of its setting time, you change the crystalline texture which prevents it from drying out and sets it like a conventional plaster, hence the dead plaster. The dead plaster has a different texture than the white paint that is added to the glue to create the artist’s gas.

A hot mixture of glue, white and dead plaster was then applied to the surface of the pre-sized fabric. Multiple coats are applied in continuous and alternate layers to create a smooth toothed surface that will accept color. The trick to applying Jesso was to apply one layer and then wait for it to lose its shiny appearance before applying the next layer. After several layers, the canvas was set aside to dry.

Artists often make this fabric after it has been drawn on a supporting frame.

The fabric was first stretched over a tapered bar called a stretcher bar.

When drawing paintings it is important that you choose a suitable stretcher bar that has either a round high lip or a tapered beveled profile.

If you use a flat piece of wood for your stretcher frame, you will later create problems by creating an effect line in the painting where the wood touches the back of the picture.

Modern artists often buy pre-primed artist canvas and linen with a synthetic Jesso coating on the surface. Using synthetic polyester fabric instead of linen or canvas is also acceptable from a safety standpoint. These synthetics are more stable and durable than some organic fabrics.

A big problem is developing countries where artists are unable to get quality support. I often encounter paintings on cotton bed sheets, hessian bags and tarpaulins. They present different challenges while trying to make everyone present.

In order to actually draw a canvas that has already been painted, it is important to determine whether the fixtures or staples you will use will go to the back or back of the stretcher first.

The process of drawing a canvas involves either cutting and assembling the stretcher bars into a frame or purchasing pre-cut slotted stretcher pieces from an art store.

The slotted corners are made with a sliding tan joint that allows you to stretch the canvas even more when you pull on the bars. There are a number of ways to get organized angles to allow more stress to be applied to the canvas by expanding the angles.

Note: If you are using a slotted type of stretcher bar, make sure you have squareed your canvas before stretching, otherwise the painting will be crooked. Measure the diagonals to check the classification. If the frame is parallel and the radius is equal then it is square.

The painting is then placed on a stretcher frame with the lips of a stretcher touching the back of the canvas or the tapered side.

You then work slowly pulling the canvas from the center to the corners using a staple gun or small tack.

The trick is to work on the opposite side slowly and again, just hitting two at a time.

Stretching players are a useful bit of kit for stretching work. They have a wide-faced player with a rubber band to hold a toothpick or canvas. They are used to leverage the canvas around the stretcher bar, to apply tension when you attach or staple the canvas to the frame.

Sometimes staples or tack can be on the back if you want to see the side of the painting without having to frame the exterior.

When you reach the corners you neatly fold the corners using the Monroe corner where both sides overlap a central tongue which is not stable. This is because if you want to re-tension the canvas the corner should allow some extension for the canvas otherwise it will tear.

Usually you will either frame the painting or at least install some foam board or other covering dust cover. It is important to cover the back of the painting for a long time to prevent dust from forming which in turn retains moisture and then eventually mold.

Then you can fix some D-rings and wire to hang the painting.

Professional framers prefer to frame the canvases so that they are not exposed around the edges. They also like to hang the hanging device on the outer frame instead of the stretcher as hanging from the stretcher can cause bending which creates a ripple in the painting.

Hopefully this article has shed some light on the requirements and techniques for choosing your paintings when drawing.

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