How to prepare canvas for oil painting? Is it necessary to treat the canvas before starting a painting? Absolutely yes. Canvas should be treated prior to the start of the painting so the oil paint that you are about to apply on the canvas does not get absorbed by the canvas. Treating the canvas will help your canvas retain the paint and the effect of the paint as it is and it will help you better the preservation process.
How to prepare canvas for oil painting; step 1 – Canvas Panel
This is called a canvas panel. This is something I create by myself for the dimensions I want. The wood that I use is called Jaathika in Tamil. I am not sure about the name of it in English. The specialty of this wood is that, it is strong, the life of the wood is good, and at the same time, it allows permeation of the stapler pin over it so it will be easy for you to stretch the canvas and pin the canvas over the panel.
Ensure with your carpenter that the panel has to be strictly square or rectangular in shape which means there should be 90 degrees between any two given sides. There is a difference between rhombus and a square. You cannot work with a panel that is rhombus in shape.
How to prepare canvas for oil painting; step 2 – Cutting a canvas cloth
Let us say that your desirable dimension is 16 * 20 inches, cut your canvas with 2 inches in addition on each side. The size of the canvas should be 18 * 22 inches so it will be easy for you to stretch the canvas on the panel and there will be enough canvas left for you to stretch tightly. Sometime during sales of the painting, this is a specification they look for.
How to prepare canvas for oil painting; step 3 – Stretching of canvas
There is a trick with which you can stretch your canvas. Spread your canvas on the floor with the surface over which you want to paint facing the floor, place your panel upside down right at the center of the canvas with 2 inches of the canvas left on each side beyond the panel. Now just pin the canvas on 2 sides, do not strain much, just casually pin the canvas using your stapler on the panel on only 2 sides of the panel without lifting the canvas off the floor. Now there are two sides that are yet to be stretched. With the stiffness of the pinned side of the canvas, stretch the other two sides of the panel. You can stretch it nicely and pin the canvas on the back of the panel.
After thoroughly stretching the panel on these 2 sides, unpin the sides that were casually stretched and pinned initially. Now with the stiffness of the pinned sides, stretch the other sides that were unpinned and pin them on the back of the panel. This way the stretching will be really stiff.
How to prepare canvas for oil painting; step 4 – Rubbing the canvas with sand paper
I generally use sand paper to dust off the bobble and the unwanted primer that comes along with the canvas on the roll. You can feel the canvas to be comparatively soft and smooth and good for primer application. Gently rub the canvas with the sand paper all over the canvas and then dust off the primer particles that comes as a result of rubbing the canvas.
How to prepare canvas for oil painting; step 5 – Primer application
The purpose for primer application is that, the canvas has a lot of pores. These pores should be filled before starting a painting. That will give additional support to the painting. I generally apply two rounds of primer so I can cover the whole of the canvas. Primer is thick in nature, so I keep a small amount of primer on the canvas here and there, and then dip my brush on a bowl of water. I do not let the water running on my canvas, I just dip the brush in water a little bit and then I paint the primer all over the canvas.
How to prepare canvas for oil painting; step 6 – Gesso application
Gesso is N additional layer on the canvas. This is also thick in nature and the application method is the same as the primer. Apply it twice so it covers the whole of the canvas. Now the purpose of using gesso is that, it retains the effect of the colors and values on the canvas. I am sure about this, because I have found significant difference between the 2 paintings where in one of the canvases gesso was not applied and in the other gesso was applied. The painting that was done over gesso was better than the other painting.
How to prepare canvas for oil painting; step 7 – Application of a coat of oil
There are three reasons why I apply one or two coats of oil paint before I start a painting. One reason is that , lot of paint on the canvas would make the painting look better. The second reason is that, it fills the pores on the canvas paving way for an overall good painting experience. The third reason is that canvas is usually white in color, which is undesirable to start a painting with. So I mix small amount of red with white and apply it on the canvas before starting the painting.
How to prepare canvas for oil painting; step 8 – Drying the oil paint coating
Allow the oil coat on the canvas to shadow dry. Do not dry it directly under the sun, allow it to dry in open space and let it not be placed directly under the sun. Let it not be touch-dry. Let the canvas be completely dry. After the canvas is completely dry, take your sand paper and gently rub it all over the canvas one more time, so any unwanted projections of the oil paint coat gets eliminated. Then take a banian cloth dip in water and gently rub it all over the canvas so it removes the dust that accumulated during the drying of the paint coat. Allow it to dry for 5 minutes and then the canvas is ready for your painting.
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