Basic Steps for Preparing a Canvas


Yesterday my sister/minion Harmony helped me put together a few small canvases.  Normally I decide what I’m painting before stretch a canvas, however I wanted to try it the other way around this time.  So I have four small canvases prepared, and now I have to decide what to put on them.

For those of you who have never stretched a canvas, here are the basic steps:

  • Assemble the stretcher bars making sure that the frame is square.
  • Cut the fabric leaving a few inches on each side (to wrap around the back of the frame)

  • Make sure that the “lip” on the stretcher bar is face down on the canvas, and wrap the canvas around the back.  Staple the canvas to the frame in the middle of each stretcher bar.

  • Using canvas pliers, stretch the canvas tight as you go around and staple each side.  Start in the middle and staple out toward the corner.  Rotate continually working your way out to the corners.  Starting in the middle of each stretcher bar and working out as you staple it will help ensure an even wrinkle-free surface.

  • Tuck and staple the corners.
  • Using Gesso, a water-based primer, paint the canvas to seal it.

  • If you desire a smoother surface, apply more coats of gesso, lightly sanding the surface of the canvas in between each coat.

Now I know these aren’t the easiest instructions to follow. I am hoping to post a video tutorial soon.  Stay tuned for the latest progress on these paintings!

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About Melody

My name is Melody Martin. Check out my art blog, and learn all about the steps and techniques that go into oil paintings.
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One Response to Basic Steps for Preparing a Canvas

  1. hniphakis says:

    nicely done, Meli and minion….
    I am equally impressed that you both can sit cross legged to do this….alas, I cannot sit this way…perhaps you should include in your tutorial different ways to sit in front of the canvas you are preparing 🙂 …. just kidding.

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