Sunday, December 22, 2013

Preparing A Canvas

I am getting ready to begin a new commission oil painting and thought I would talk about the steps I need to take before actually sitting down to do the painting.  It seems like there is a lot of boring stuff to do before the actual fun part of painting.

1. Talk to the customer and find out what they want and the size or decide what I want to do if I am just doing one for myself.

2. Hunt down a carpenter to make the wooden framework for the actual physical canvas, and also hunt down a place to buy some canvas for said frame.  This is not so easy in our city with zero art supply stores.  (There are a couple of stores which sell, as a sideline, paint and some regular size canvases; but the choice of canvases is limited and they are not always a good grade.)

3. Discuss with the carpenter the price, size, wood width, number of supports, style (wrap around-staples on back or regular-staples on side, making sure they will round off the wood so it won't show through after you paint on the canvas, etc. and do it in a language that you are not fluent in.  It is fun actually and people are always helpful.

4.  Pick up said canvas when it is finished.

5.  Prep the canvas to get it ready for painting which means putting a couple of coats of gesso on the back and usually 3 coats on the front. (I cannot buy the gesso here, in my city, in other than very small bottles which are expensive, so I mix up my own.)  A lot of people don't do the backs of their canvases; but because of the humidity factor here I always do.  So far I have had no issues with paintings molding or mildewing on the back as they hang on the walls.  I know other people with non prepped canvas backs have had this issue.  After all these coats have dried, I sometimes will put on a thin wash of some colour complementary to the painting colours to cover the white up.  I don't usually bother tinting the gesso; but do sometimes do this wash after the gesso.

6.  Do some type of drawing on paper and then transfer it onto the canvas.  I do not draw right onto my canvas as I do lots of changes/corrections and it is easier to make the changes on paper first.

7.  Finally, ready to paint!!!!

The commission that I am getting ready to start at the moment is oil on canvas, 60 x 100 cms. or 24 x 39.5 inches.  It is to be a landscape scene with some mountains in the background and a marshy area with lots of trees in their fall colours in the foreground.  This should be a fun painting as it is not as structured as a lot of things I do.  Looking forward to starting it.

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