What is stretched canvas? Pre-prepared supports for artists who want to paint straight away
Conventionally, canvases are tightly stretched on to a frame, which creates a spring in the fabric when pressure is applied, i.e. when a paint brush applies paint to it. It is generally considered that the more tightly stretched a canvas, the more enjoyable it is to paint on, as the tension in the surface has an element of vibrancy. The tightness of a canvas must be the same across the whole frame so that the grain of the fabric is square to the edges, with no skewing. Readymade or pre stretched canvases most commonly have a universally primed canvas stretched on to a wooden frame with bevelled edges (so that the edge of the frame does not leave an imprint when the canvas is painted on). This means that the canvas is coated with a white acrylic primer, which sufficiently coats the fabric for both oil and acrylic painting. Most ready-made canvases are triple primed (coated 3 times), and some have even more layers of primer. Lots of thin layers of primer is preferable to one thick layer as it is a more stable priming, which is less susceptible to cracking over time, and will be much more likely to be even across the whole surface. Canvas is fixed to the frame with either tacks on the sides, or staples on the back, or both. Ready made canvases are available in a range of depths, and if this is of importance to you it is vital to check the dimensions. Standard depth canvases are generally considered to look more traditional and are easier to frame, whereas deeper canvases tend to be associated with contemporary or more modern art techniques, although the trends are always changing. This choice is one of pure aesthetic; a standard depth canvas does not perform better or worse than a deep edge or chunky canvas, although thin bars may need to be reinforced with the use of a cross bar for larger sized canvases. Daler Rowney have a range of canvases ideal for landscape painting, due to their long thin dimensions (but of course they are not exclusive to painting landscapes, just as good for abstract or figurative painting too!). Bella Arti, our ‘professional’ grade pre-stretched canvases are made to gallery standard and are also available in extra fine grain linen, medium grain linen, clear primed linen (an extra coat of acrylic medium is required for oil painting) as well as deep edge cotton. Again, all these choices give you the artist the opportunity to select the right surface for the idea you have in mind for your work. Our own brand Jackson’s canvases are available in deep and standard depth cotton universal primed canvas, and we also do canvases by Winsor and Newton, Daler Rowney, Loxley and Pebeo. Take advantage of extra discount by looking out for the permanent special bulk buy art canvas offers we have for canvases by Winsor & Newton, Jackson’s Art Supplies and Bella Arti (trade discounts also available for wholesale customers), as well as occasional limited time period canvas sales we hold; surprisingly cheap canvases of exceptional value and quality for all artists - from beginner to professional.
In addition to ready-made canvases, we at Jackson’s Art Supplies offer a variety of other canvas supports. Canvas panels are sheets of compressed card on to which universally primed cotton canvas has been glued. These are ideal for quick sketches, but can also be easily framed as finished paintings, and we sell ranges by both Winsor and Newton and Jackson’s. Canvas boards by Bella Arti are made of acrylic primed cotton duck glued on to MDF with shear edges – slightly sturdier and heavier, and a great rigid support with the grain of a canvas. Daler Board, an entirely unique product range by Daler Rowney, is an affordable and rigid oil primed support ideal for taking out of doors.
Perfect for experimentation and easy to cut to size are the wide range of canvas pads that we sell. Belle Arti and Fredrix offer canvas pads made of sheets of universally acrylic primed canvas, glue bound on one edge, so that you can paint on sheets while they are still in the pad, or you can fix to a board with glue or masking tape for more stability. Oil and acrylic blocks by Clairefontaine and Hahnemuhle as well as pads from the Daler Rowney System 3 and Georgian ranges are made of specially treated papers designed for use with either oil or acrylic paint (please note the acrylic papers are not suitable for use with oils) and all varieties have a fine art linen effect texture. Oil/acrylic blocks are glued on all 4 sides and sheets need to be sliced with a palette knife after the work is complete and dry – this prevents any warping in the sheet during the drying process. Pads are only glue bound on one side, and in all cases, can be presented to gallery standard by reinforcing on to a backing board and framing. Conversely they are also a cheaper option for those buying art supplies for a school or art society that need to be creative within a budget.