Keith Ferris – Only 20 Litho’s left!

Stretching the Canvas

Super Sabre Society
Bien Hoa F-100D 440 at Tet, 1968

8/7/2017

Since switching from using self prepared panels almost thirty years ago I have stretched and prepared my own canvases.
Stretching the Canvas is my initial investment in a work, the all important first step in creating a painting. The proportions of the canvas are determined by the preplanned shape of the composition and must provide a permanent stable rigid surface, remain tight as a drum and be prepared with several coatings of acrylic gesso oil painting ground ready to receive the drawing and painting.

I use Fredrix Heavy Duty Pine Stretcher Bars and Fredrix Acrylic Double Primed Antwerp 190DP Pure Linen canvas which comes in six foot by 6 yard rolls.
The following few slides will show the various steps performed in stretching and preparing the canvas.

The Stretcher Bars

Assembly Method

Repeat All Four Corners

Checking Square

Measure the Diagonals

If Diagonals Match, Frame is Square

Four Temporary Pins Maintain Square

Now for the Canvas

Three Inches of Canvas Around

Measuring for the Cut

Drawing the Cut Line

Cutting the Canvas

Stapler and ½ in Staples

1st Staple, Center of 1st long Side

Set staple with Small Hammer

Move to Center, Opposite Long Side

Tighten with Stretcher Tool, Staple # 2

First Short Side Center, Staple #3

Opposite Short Side, Staple # 4

Four Sides Tight, Single Staple Each

Working from Center Outward Add Staple Each Side of Original Staple on 1st Long Side

Working from Center Outward Add Staple Each Side of Original Staple on 1st Long Side

Repeat Process on Opposing Long Side

Repeat Process Short Sides in Order

Remove temporary pins at corners

Canvas pre-fold for square corners

Stretch tight for final corner staples

Canvas stretching complete

Home made Corner Shims

Corner Shims in place

Canvas Stretched ready for Gesso

Beginning the Gesso Process

Corner Shims in place

Rapidly cover canvas horizontally

Beginning the Gesso Process

smoothing it out with 2 ½ inch brush

I always finish with vertical brush strokes from bottom to top, top to bottom, to avoid reflections and shadows of horizontal brush strokes revealed by overhead lighting .

I always finish with vertical brush strokes from bottom to top, top to bottom, to avoid reflections and shadows of horizontal brush strokes revealed by overhead lighting .

The finished Gessoed Canvas, awaiting the drawing.

For those interested, I use Liquitex Acrylic Gesso for the perfect painting surface.
This Gesso is available in gallon containers from most artist’s supply stores.

For single primed canvas I use two coats of Gesso. For double primed canvas, one coat will usually suffice.

Now off to the drawing!