Here's an all important question you must ask yourself - Why should I invest my hard earned Artistic dollars in a good quality stretched canvas?! In this blog, we answer this very question! Read on to know more.
Your Brand Matters!
As an artist you are essentially selling yourself as a brand, therefore it’s up to you to decide what you feel is professional enough to sell or exhibit. Your artistic name is going to be associated with your paintings, and you have to choose whether or not you are wanting to promote a certain professionalism with those choices.
We personally try to recommend the best quality of paint and surface one can afford, mostly because quality of the surface is as important as the quality of the paints being used. Believe it or not, there is always a superior outcome with better quality products. The price one pays for paint and stretched canvases should be worked into your pricing structure anyway (that's a whole other blog!) So always try getting the best you can!
Weight What? The price and difference when it comes to stretched canvas in particular, is the weight and quality of the canvas and the weight and quality of the stretcher bars. Additionally, the quality of the gesso or primer plays a vital role in the overall finish and costing.
Cheap n’ cheerful stretched canvases start around 4 or 5 oz. versus the more professional canvas which start at 7 oz. and go up to around 12 oz. or 14 oz. The main difference between these stretched canvases is in the tightness of the weave (basically down to thread count).
Cheaper/lighter canvas will tend to have more pinholes, and is much easier to tear and distort. Heavier canvas is better to paint on as its more stable with less bounce. Heavier canvases are also better if you’re going to be un-mounting and re-stretching the painting, because it will hold up better to the changes in tension.
Raising the bar!
Stretcher bars can come in various timbers and sizes. They are like the foundation to your painting and keep the canvas stable, they are there to keep the painting from twisting and turning. Thin knotty imported timbers tend to warp the most, especially at larger lengths (think - cheap!). Professionally made stretchers still can warp but tend to do so less often because there’s more wood to make them stronger.
Clear and kiln dried timbers are a definite win-win because of their stability. Also 35mm or higher (deep edge) wide stretcher bars are ideal for their strength and brace anything over a meter in length to discourage any possible warpage. If you are using a heavy weight and well stretched cotton duck canvas it is a no brainer to use a quality stretcher bar too, a light frame will warp very quickly with a quality heavy weight canvas.
The quality of the primer or gesso can also be really important. That cheaply made canvas probably has one or two coats of cheaply made gesso with lots of pin holes. This is a big no-no especially for oil-based paints as it can promote the paint to flake, crumble, or crack right off the canvas. Usually, high quality canvas has a higher quality of primer or gesso. The grounds will be more absorbent much more flexible and usually there are more layers put on too.
The best way to check for a quality of a stretched canvas is to keep these 4 point - check list handy so you always get the best bang for your buck.
Weight of the canvas duck/cloth - Always check and request for stretched canvases which are 7oz. or higher.
Primer & Gesso Coating - Always check for a stretched canvas that has at least 2 coats of a high quality primer/gesso ground. The ideal process would be to prime-sand-re prime. This is repeated twice in case of double priming and three times incase of triple priming.
Stretcher bars & frame - Good quality, heat treated, dense wooded stretcher bars are a perfect match for stretched canvases. Having a strong cross-bar in the middle for larger stretched canvases always adds extra stability to the overall build quality. Request for at least 35mm wide (or) deep edge stretched canvases.
Quality of the stretch - A good stretched canvas will have a tightly stretched cloth over its frame. A minimum margin of play/bounce is provided, that can be adjusted with notches. These notches are usually tagged to the rear of the stretched canvases.
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Source Credits: Stretched Canvas Nz.