A comprehensive note on canvas stretching

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Australia has a rich and illustrious history of art, which is usually disregarded. Australia is home to a vibrant arts community that creates innovative and historically significant works. 

The nation has a rich tradition of artistic expression, ranging from Kimberley Aboriginal art to the modernist paintings of the 1950s and 1960s. Australian art is frequently experimental and deals with various themes, including the natural world and the human psyche.

Many Australian cities are well-known for flourishing music and art scenes nationwide. The technique of canvas stretching in Melbourne has substantially influenced them. Artists have utilised the method for centuries in a variety of ways. Read further to know everything about this technique of art.

What is canvas stretching?

Canvas stretching is mounting an artist’s canvas onto a wooden frame, also called a stretcher-bar. There are two kinds of canvas used in stretching, and they are pre-primed canvas and unprimed canvas. 

Pre-primed canvas

The canvas that has been primed before usage is referred to as a pre-primed. It makes it easier for the paint to cling to a smooth surface. It also aids in preventing paint from leaking from the canvas to the stretcher bars. Most artists prefer to paint a pre-painted canvas, and many galleries house paintings made through canvas stretching in Melbourne.

Unprimed canvas 

A canvas that has not been coated with a primer is said to be unprimed. The unprimed, bare canvas is a daunting surface. It is not absorbent in any way, as opposed to primed canvas. It’s common to imagine that a brand-new, blank canvas has limitless potential. It is particularly valid when an artist is experimenting with a novel medium. 

Guide to stretch canvas

Tools

Most people don’t know there are specific tools for stretching a canvas. It might not seem like a big deal, but using the wrong tools can ruin the surface of your painting. It means you won’t be able to sell it later or even show it to anyone. The right tools will ensure that your artwork lasts for a long time. Some devices are stretching pliers, scissors, hammers, staple guns, measuring tape and a rubber mallet. 

Prepare the stretcher and lay out the canvas.

You will need a stretcher bar frame. After removing any hardware like tacks and nails, give a light sanding using grit sandpaper. It will remove any splinters on the structure and lead to a smoother surface. Now apply gesso on it. 

It is now time to secure the canvas to the stretcher with the help of staples. Pulling the fabric taut as you staple it to the bar, start in the middle of one of the long sides. Next, move to the other side and repeat the same there. After stapling both sides, move to the centre of the other long side and do the same.

Measure and cut 

Measure and mark the equal distance from both sides of all four corners. Draw a rectangle with a pencil around the frame. Carefully cut over the marked lines and remove the excess canvas. 

Staple and finish it neat 

Fold the canvas to the back of the frame using stretching pliers, grip it to the centre, pull tight, and secure it with the staple. Repeat the same process on all sides. It is crucial to place it in the proper spot. 

The canvas could tear if the staple is positioned too closely to the edge. Removing a pin placed too far from the border could be challenging. Check whether it is neat and make the finishing touches. 

Thus, this is how this beautiful art technique is created. Some of the most well-known Australian artists who have used it include Brett Whiteley and Ron Mueck. Many budding Australian artists are also learning it to create unique works of art.