I’ve had the canvas bug for years but have never had the space/time/resources/knowledge/you name it to switch over. When Banff became an option I knew that it would be the perfect place to try out this new-to-me surface that I’ve swooned over from afar.
Last week I did a lot of research on canvas. What type to use [linen/cotton/gessoed/pre-gessoed/raw], how to stretch it [watched you-tubes and friends stretch/staple their own], how to prep it for the materials I want to use [clear gesso, acrylic release flow, fluid matte medium, acrylic ground for pastels]. I tested out some methods and got friendly with the staple gun.
Fast forward to today and I’ve stretched and prepped two my own canvases (2’ x 2’ and a large 4’ x 3’). AND, according to art-babe Cindy, I’ve done a good job (woot! go me). It is super empowering to be able to own your process and take the wheel.
Despite the french ⇌ english instructions, she showed me her stretching ways. You should check out her work.
Things I Love About Canvas
I N T I M A C Y : Working with canvas is a very intimate experience. Compared to paper where you just pull it out and get going - you are very much apart of the process. You get very physical with the material. You cut, tear, pull, tuck, fold and prep the fabric. You watch the structure of weave to make you’re not pulling it too tight. You tug at the fabric pieces until you get the perfect origami corner fold. You let the raw canvas absorb your colors as you pour the liquid onto it’s surface. You brush the pigment into it’s fibers and then wait for it to dry. You add protective layers so you can preserve it for the long haul. You are actively building on its surface and watching it absorb and/or hold everything you put into it. This material has won me over hard.
R A W : I love being able to work with an exposed surface. You let the fibers show through. For me, it feels so much more connected to the earth and referential to where this material came from. You get to appreciate the fabric in its natural state.
F L U I D I T Y : It feels so good to work in a watercolor-like method again. Bringing fluidity back into my work means losing control. I do my best to create what I want but, at the end of the day, the materials and the pigments dry unpredictably. For me, that is so beautiful. I love having that as my base for the painting again.