Stretching Canvas

Stretching some canvas for my new years eve painting.

Cut a piece of canvas approximately 3″ larger than the wooden frame.

This stretcher frame has a bevel on the edge. This will be the front of the frame.

Roughly in the centre I put 3 staples.

Place centre staples on all four sides of the stretcher. You don’t have to pull hard on the canvas at this point.

Once all four sides are secure, pull against the centre staples toward the corner. Placing 2 or 3 staples each time on each side.

A few staples each time you pull away from the centre of the side you are working.

Put staples all the way to the end of the stretcher frame. This leaves a piece in the corner for folding neatly, while securing the canvas completely to the frame.

The excess canvas at the corner should fold easily to make a 45

degree angle.

I use 3 staples on this angle to keep it secure.

Secure all four corners with staples.

When your done it should look exactly like this.

The next step is to apply the gesso. Here I’m using an acrylic gesso. First I put a coat of the gesso on the edges over the staples.

Once all the staples and edges are painted with gesso I leave it to dry for about an hour. Some may staple on the back of the stretcher, but I have always had difficulty getting the right tension on the canvas. This is just the method I prefer.

Next, pick a corner to start painting.

Any corner.

Painting all around the edges toward the centre.

Working from the edges toward the centre the canvas will be pulling tighter as you progress.

Brush the gesso into the weave of the canvas.

Gesso can be very thick and require vigorous brushwork. Don’t thin it down too much, it is there to protect the canvas.

When you are finished it should look exactly like this.

I usually put 2 more coats onto this before painting with oils.

Or you can go to the art store and buy one already made.



‘Dessert’, 32″ X 48″, oil on plywood, 1998.

The writing on the wall.

And the Lord spake unto his disciples,

“Look at this MESS!!!”

verily he said,

“I can’t leave you guys alone for one minute!”

and then he let them have it, saying unto them,

“This is IT! This is the last time! Absolutely the LAST time I do ANYTHING for YOU!”