Stretching a painting

A few weeks ago I started making my own canvas stretchers, but I was only stretching blank canvases. Today I took an unfinished painting that I had started on an unstretched piece of canvas, built a stretcher to fit the dimensions of that painting, and stretched the painting onto the stretcher with the edges lined up.

It wasn’t difficult, the painting doesn’t seem to be damaged and the edges look fine. Now I can complete the painting on the stretcher.

The process was so easy that in future I would definitely consider completing a painting on unstretched canvas and then building a stretcher for it at the end. This means that if I wanted to crop off part of the painting, I could. If the painting really didn’t work out then I could throw away the canvas without having gone to the trouble and expense of building a stretcher and stretching it.


6 thoughts on “Stretching a painting

  1. Liam, I’m miles behind your journal pieces, in my reading of them. I have spent a lot of time in the central parts of Australia among isolated and scarred aboriginal settlements. Western style painting was introduced to their community centres in the 1970s and it took off. To say that there is a proliferation of painting by aboriginal artists is trite. These are true, full blood, English as a third language, remote people. None would have seen a “painting”. So they don’t regard them as objects, or indeed of having any commercial value. They presented a new and exciting way for them to express their millenia old histories and sagas and natural histories and law. They had always drawn, coloured on sand/dirt, on rock, on bark and particularly on their bodies. It was mostly ephemeral. For them, the value is in DOING the paintings. They have little regard for the finisihed product. I have seen old and decrepit men and women, normally sullen or stoic in presence, to transform once they start painting. They continue steadily, murmuring their stories and weeping or laughing their histories, swaying all the while, For the duration of painting they are seriously elevated and transformed. A happy intersection of alien techniques with the demands of expressing and passing on their culture. They will all have different styles and they do not think about it up front. You might have seen plenty of stereotypical Aboriginal paintings with many common stylistic and figurative features. This is not the norm, they are usuually unique, and not interested in development or attending to, or improving in a craft.

    That is all bye the bye and thanks for reading. Relevantly to your post on stretching and painting on an unstretched canvas, this is what happens in Central Australia.. They will not paing at easels or even at tables. They alwyas sit cross legged on the floor with the linen in front or even, for large paintings, underneath them. The fabric is stretched first, gessoed (spelling) then unstretched for painting.

    Liam, I’m enjoying your musings, Phil


    • God, your comments are great Phil! I would love to paint sitting on the floor, and I like to paint sitting down, but both seem bad for my back and neck posture. The psychological state you describe sounds so interesting, that’s a whole other thing I’d like to research. I’ve read a bit about how aboriginal people began using acrylic paint and canvases in the 1970s/80s, making paintings like you say, in ways that were related to their dreamtime practices, but using these new materials instead of natural ephemera.
      By the way, I thought today that I shouldn’t post on this blog too often because you’ll never catch up on the comments! … but then it is called “daily” daub, so you’ll just have to skip a few now and then. 🙂 x


      • If only one of my comments sparks a train of thought for you, that’s a dividend for me. Don’t you fucken dare reduce your postings. I’m not skipping any. I was bad on the weekend and didn’t look at my computer. Of course quite often your comments aren’t ones I can converse about meaningfully. There are others where I wlll join in and you will realise straight away that I just like the sound of my own voice. But Liam, I stoked to get your reply. I hope no-one else can read the shite I say. x


      • and so they should be public. Not having noticed any, I sailed on, not necessarily keeping on point Liam. I might use carrier pigeon for some of my comments #blushingeversoslightly


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