How to Stretch Canvas on Wood

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How to Stretch Canvas on Wood for Paintings on wooden Board

Painters who like to work with thick layers of paint, with assemblages of mixed materials, with collages or with painting-techniques of intense scratching may better stretch their canvas on a wooden board instead of an usual frame.

To use cloth as painting ground is more professional than directly painting on wood, because perspirations of the wood panel may influence the colour and change them to a darker tone. By stretching canvas on wood you also add the linen structure to your painting ground. The following art material guide tells how to stretch canvas on wood without the board warps after grounding.

Put grounding on canvas stretched panels for painting

First cut the painting cloth to a proper size so there will be enough over stand all around that you can turn down about 5 cm (2 inches) on the backside of the board. Then cut a second piece of canvas, which is about 5 mm (0.2 inch) smaller all around than the wood panel.

Now spread a layer of fluid bone glue or any similar solvent-free fluid-glue on the front-side of the wood and stretch the bigger piece of the two prepared canvases very even over the sticky side of your panel. It's very important to pay attention not to create bubbles between the textile and the board.

After the front-page of your new wooden painting ground is completely perfect without any bubbles or folds, you should start spreading more natural glue to the small sides of the wood and on the backside, where the over stand will turn down.

It might be a good advice to start stretching the leftover canvas on the back at both opposite facing long-sides of your board. At the corners you should avoid to create thick accumulation of canvas layers. Spread the cloth as broad as possible.

Now the first canvas is covering the front of your wood panel without folds or bubbles and all corners should look professional with the attached turnover cloth. Finally you can continue to spread your fluid-glue on the whole backside of the wood including on the turned over canvas. Stretch the second, smaller piece of cloth on the sticky side and avoid again bubbles and folds. Covering both sides of the wood doesn't serve visual reasons on the surface, but it prevents the wood from warping by putting the same tension on both sides of the wood.

For drying place the finished board with its painting side up, horizontally on little blocks of the same sized to get an even distance to the table, so that air can circulate all around the panel. After board and cloth are completely dry, you can put grounding on the canvas stretched panel for painting.

Put grounding on a canvas stretched panel for painting on wood

Stretching canvas on wood is better than directly painting on wood

Before you are ready to paint on wood, you have to put several layers of grounding on the canvas stretched panel to create a professional painting ground. Dealers for art material and artists supply provide various chalk primer and acrylic groundings that support all techniques of oil painting, gouache or acrylic styles. But no matter which kind of painting ground you choose, - classical half-chalk primer or simple acrylic paint - in any case the canvas stretched wood should be completely dry before you start. Then spread the grounding on both sides of the panel.

This is not only important to provide a proper isolation of your painting ground. Like before, it also guarantees, that the wet grounding affects both sides of the wood in the same way, so there is no chance for the stretched board to warp. Especially on the painting side you should be very careful with spreading the grounding paint crosswise and diagonally without leaving visible strokes.

Try also to avoid unpleasant leftovers like lumps of paint, hairs of the brush or other things that don't belong on the surface of your picture. With smooth brush movements in all directions over several layers you'll get an even painting ground. Finally you have to dry the canvas again by putting it "painting side up" on little blocks or same sized pins to let circulating air get to all surfaces with wet primer. After the canvas stretched board is dry you're ready to choose any technique for your painting on wood that still will show a slight linen optic.

Most kinds of cloth are appropriate being stretched on wooden boards. Heavy structured sack-linen, nettle, cotton, or raw linen are all proper materials to cover wood panels. You can present your board stretched with canvas like any other "canvas-on-frame painting" with a decorative artistic frame. Even a presentation without such a frame is thinkable, because all sides of the wood are covered with painting cloth. Even after many years your painting on wood stretched with canvas will be even without warping.

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How to Stretch Canvas on Wood