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 Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades

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watermixableguy
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Tue Oct 12, 2010 10:12 am

Here's a question that could go into a specific topic posting I suppose, but it is a general interest one too:

Where do you buy your canvases, and what grade of canvas do you buy?

My wife and I bought many canvases from our local painter/framer/supplier. They made their own. They closed their shop this spring (boo hoo Sad and now we need more 24" x 36" canvases, from somewhere.

We have a few choices. There is a truckload sale temporarily at the local mall, selling 24x36 for $12. The canvases come from Quebec.
The DeSerres Art Store (formerly LoomisToles) about 250km away, is selling two grades, one for $29, and the premium, with thicker gauge canvas for $30. I would have to pay shipping.

There is also one local art supply shop, and the local Michaels Art Supply store. Michaels tends to be about 50% higher than anyone else, but I have not looked at their canvas prices yet.

Any advice or experiences to pass along?



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Dana C

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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:00 pm

The Masters always said buy the top of the line as it makes a difference in painting, although they can afford them, yet I tend to agree as some of the cheaper ones really don't paint as nicely....my thought is buy the best you can afford and when we become masters, lol, we can get the best and justify them.

I usually get mine on sale some times at Aarons Art and Frame and other shops Ilook around, I have also bought mine from Mister Art on line and they are pretty good about the shipping. I think that you can also check out some artist websites they sometimes tell where and what kind.

I wish you well and look forward to what others say.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Tue Oct 12, 2010 12:39 pm

As an update, I purchased a few of those $12 canvases during my lunch hour. I figured that since they are made here in Canada, they should be at least okay.

The DeSerres products are made in China, which to me indicates they are certainly made for less than domestic canvases.

I checked the local art shop where I buy most of my Artisan paints. They carry Gotrick canvases, which are double primed good quality canvas, also made in Quebec.These sell for $27 for a 24" x 36". I checked out their website, which is basically intended as an information and ordering site for retailers. I was most impressed with the Gotrick canvases so far.http://www.gotrickinc.com/pages/choix_gotrick.php?langue=an

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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:09 pm

Your local art store sounds like a good place to get them, especially when you need one right away. Have you checked the price at Curry's? I've bought canvases from there before - a smaller size, though - 12x16, and they were good quality. I go in with friends when they are ordering to avoid paying shipping costs on a small order. With larger canvases you might still have to pay shipping, though.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Tue Oct 12, 2010 1:28 pm

Sofie, thanks for the heads-up about Curry's. I used to buy from them when I lived in Toronto.
Their paint and canvas prices are good!

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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:02 am

Our Yellowstone trip was great. 250 miles (400 km) in one entrance and out another. Lots of bison of course, but the highlights were the grizzlies (all seen from far off). First one, then a mother and two cubs and then another solitary one. Beautiful animals.

While there is a Michaels in Billings, MT (240 miles round trip), I buy stretched canvases online and try to make the orders large enough so I don't have to pay postage (that's not too hard now-a-days). I bought some canvas rolls and stretchers and have been building some of my own where I wanted a non-standard size. I wish we had some of your Canadian stores close by. It's super to live in the least populous U.S. state, but that does limit shopping opportunities.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Oct 13, 2010 11:28 am

Jim,

I have never stretched my own canvas. Is it difficult? Are there any great savings?
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:34 pm

Dale,

I'm definitely not an expert here -still searching for the "right" way to do this. I think there are lots of very strong and conflicting opinions about it.

To me the big benefit to "rolling your own" is that you can make the size you want. Even commercial stretcher bars can be purchased in length increments of one inch (20", 21", 22", etc.). And there are a lot more types of canvas available in rolls than in the stretched offerings. And yes, I believe it is cheaper (but you can end up storing a bunch of stretchers to have available what you want).

Looking at what you can buy for stretched canvases, Dick Blick Studio brand appears to come with the stretchers held together only by the stapled canvas (you can move the stretcher bars slightly where they come together). Ditto for Vincent Oil Primed Linen stretched canvases but these also have staples holding the corners together. Both have the grooves at the corner joints for shims (to tighten the canvas), but if I remember correctly, neither ships with shims. So while they can be shimmed, it would seem that they don't feel it will be necessary. Neither of these seem to loosen significantly with painting.

When you buy stretcher bars, they do come with shims. However, in a college class they had us make our own frames and glue them together. No provision for shimming there!

When I went to the C.W.Russell Art Auction this spring I purposely sat very close to the runway so I could try to figure out how the paintings were being held together. A number of paintings there were stapled at the stretcher corners. I didn't notice any paintings with shims, but I couldn't get a good look at all of them.

Two really professional artist friends do not glue stretcher corners. One of them uses shims if necessary and the other uses adjustable turnbuckle metal corner and cross brace ties on all medium and large size frames. A professional framer says he glues all the corners on frames he makes. Hmmmmm.

In my view the critical part of it is in stretching and stapling the canvas. The tighter you can get it, the better. I have used several different stretching pliers (the guys with the big wide mouth). On one of the more expensive ones the spring popped out and won't go back in correctly. On a cheaper one a rivet came loose. I now use a regular pair of pliers which I guess isn't the best way to go. When using the pliers I push the far side of the canvas/frame against the wall while pulling the canvas up over the frame on the near side. I can exert more pulling force with the pliers that way.

One really controversial point. Some say NEVER spray water on the back of your canvas after stapling it Evil or Very Mad (to shrink it into being tight). They maintain that this can shorten the life of the canvas. I believe Fredrix had instructions for stretching canvases on a web site at one point. They (or whoever it was) said it was okay to spray to shrink.

I had a telephone conversation with a Fredrix rep. and he said there are two "secrets" to good stretching. One, HEAT the canvas before stretching it. This loosens up both the gessoed surface and the canvas fiber itself so it will stretch farther, easier. The second is to lightly spray the back with water Shocked!

For sure, stapling a frame together after squaring it and then stretching the canvas onto it doesn't work. Staples alone won't hold it. The canvas gets loose quickly. Spraying the back with water tightens it right up for a short time, then it loosens up again. I shimmed that one (haven't painted on it yet).

It would be nice to hear what others think about this. If there are enough comments, maybe this should be moved to a separate topic.

Whew, Sad a really long post with nothing definite in it Rolling Eyes.






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watermixableguy
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Oct 13, 2010 1:44 pm

A long post for sure, but an interesting one!
With art store prices ranging from $14 to $30 for one 24" x 36" cotton canvas, as Dale asks, would it be worth it to do it ourselves? That is, purchase a roll of cotton and all the necessary tools. How much time would it take to stretch one canvas, and are they 'better' than the purchased ones... hmm

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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Thu Oct 14, 2010 1:31 pm

Having worked as a picture framer, I've stretched many a canvas. I even found time to do some for myself once in a while Laughing Now I prefer to buy canvasses pre-stretched and primed, ready to use. I have a damp basement, so canvas needs to be stored upstairs. I also do not have a good area for laying it out and cutting it, not to mention building the stretcher frames. Also, I have no need for odd sized canvasses (lesson learned from custom framing) - why pay a whole lot more for a custom size frame when a standard off-the-shelf frame is 1/3 the price.
And most of all - I'm lazy! When I have the time to paint, that's what I want to do, rather than spend time prepping materials.

Jim, I've never heard anything bad about spritzing a little water on the back of the canvas. Just don't leave it to dry in a damp, moldy basement! Laughing You can also buy a product for this - yes, here it is:
http://www.cheapjoes.com/prod/MP9872/
Also, check this site out (here's pre-stretched canvas, they also have rolls and stretcher bars):
http://www.aswexpress.com/discount-art-supplies/online/1119/art-supplies/3
They always have sales and email coupons, shipping is just 6.95 no matter how much you order.

One other thought... Since I frame my paintings, and I don't do very many large paintings, I don't care about how the stretchers are constructed (stapled, nailed...), but if you hang your paintings without frames, you might want to go with heavier/sturdier stretchers with cross bars to lessen the chance of warping.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Thu Oct 14, 2010 3:01 pm

I can't even imagine stretching canvases, and using pliers, etc. Do you need to buy wood, use a mitre saw, biscuit joiner, and so on? Maybe not, not sure. I'll just buy them ready made.

I ordered some regular canvases from Curry's in Toronto today. They were on sale at $18.39 each, free shipping in Canada for orders over $75. I also bought several 200ml Artisan tubes, on sale for $14. I'll know in a few weeks what the canvases look like, but it is worth the gamble. They looked like good quality. And Michael's' were $44 EACH (!!!)

On about Michael's, they have reorganized the paint section at the location nearest me. They have categorized the paints with header signs located above the shelves. They are clear, large, easy to read signs, with brand logos and indicating something like Amateur/Student, SemiProfessional, Professional. etc, and with category numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4.

The Artisan water mixable paints are in category 1, for students and hobbyists, because they can be cleaned up with soap and water. (!!!) I ask you, is that, uh 'misguided' , or what...

Have they done this chainwide, or only in Canada?

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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Thu Oct 14, 2010 4:10 pm

Callie - Glad to hear that you "spritz" canvases too. I'll look into the Tight-N-Up product. ASW is a great place to find stuff, as is Dick Blick. The canvas rolls I bought were already primed. That is one step I don't like doing!

There are a couple my landscapes that didn't lend themselves to standard sizes. Some others; -well yeah, I could have redesigned them to fit standard. But that might have taken me as long as doing the stretching Smile (okay, I'm "stretching" it a bit). Wish there were more standard size options. Thank goodness a couple of companies make the 10x14 size. That really works for a number of my paintings.

WMG - The stretchers that I use are already made with (I guess you call them) finger joints and can be hand fit together (Best medium duty stretcher bars). I'll look at our Michaels the next time we go to Billings.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Fri Oct 15, 2010 9:28 am

I think 10 x 14 is one of my favorite sizes now, especially for landscapes. I order them 6 to a box (usually Winsor & Newton blue label) from ASW. Just checked the site - 6 for $18.22 Wink

Jim, hope you stocked up - sounds like you'll be doing a Yellowstone series artist

I hardly ever go to Michaels. This time of year the dried flowers, halloween and thanksgiving junk take over the store. The art dept. made a brief appearance for back-to-school sales, it's probably about non-existant now Laughing

Must go get some coffee....the smilies keep distracting me geek
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PostSubject: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Fri Oct 15, 2010 1:41 pm

Watermixableguy: I'm glad you found a good deal on your canvases and hope they are what you wanted.
On the W/N Artisan paints, they are rated as a student grade, but as the highest-student grade in WMOs. As far as I know, only Holbein Duos, the new Cobras, and Weber Woils(?) are all considered Artist Grade. That's 1 of the reasons I'm so excited about the Cobra WMOs, they are artist quality for about the same price as the Artisan. There's no way I could afford to paint entirely with Holbein Duos, until or if they started to sell. Of course, there's nothing wrong with the Student grade either. Right now I'm using up my Artisans and a few Lukas Berlins, especially since it will be a while before I can paint like I used to. In fact, I don't know for sure if I'll ever be able to paint like I used to. I was single then, had the house to myself, and my daughter was gone, so I could paint all that I wanted to. Now I'm married and very involved with my Church. It's so much harder now to find the time and the room to paint. Well, I love painting, even if it doesn't always turn out so good.
I'm going to stick with it no matter what, because now I know what happens if you don't practice for years--it sure isn't like riding a bike.

Happy painting everybody!
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Sat Oct 16, 2010 6:06 pm

I've stretched my own at times, especially larger ones. I have several rolls from Fredrix and have always been satisfied with them. The stretchers I get are also by Fredrix and have the toungue and groove system. I've never glued them and square them as I staple. I've used the shims at times, and I have also sprayed the back of the very lightly just at the edges of the stretchers and have not had any problems. You do not want to over spray and risk buckling the frame....just a little bit at a time and real fine.

I have gotten canvases at Michaels but only when I have a 40 to 50% off coupon. Otherwise, they are very over priced.

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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:49 pm

Crystal1 wrote:
On the W/N Artisan paints, they are rated as a student grade, but as the highest-student grade in WMOs. As far as I know, only Holbein Duos, the new Cobras, and Weber Woils(?) are all considered Artist Grade.

I would consider the Grumbacher MAX to be artist grade as well.

As far as pre-stretched canvas is concerned, I would definitely avoid the discount cheapy brands. In my experience, they usually have flimsy stretcher bars (so your canvas will eventually warp or twist) and do a poor job on the primer - the coats being thin and inconsistent. I have found Fredrix to be pretty solid as well as Art Alternatives. Since many of the pre-stretched canvases come with only 2 coats of primer, it is a good idea - and fairly easy - to add a coat or two of acrylic primer yourself.

Don
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Oct 20, 2010 8:12 pm

I used to stretch all my own canvases way back when. I never had pliers and used my hands to stretch, so it was hard work, especially as my canvas was very thick. What I liked about stretching my own canvas was using that lovely unprimed canvas and priming it myself. I really miss that but I can't pull on the canvas anymore - I suppose i could invest in some of those pliers.

I've never heard that spraying the back of a canvas was bad - I've always done it and it works great. When stretching unprimed canvas it's a good idea to do it wet anyway.

With cheaper prestretched canvases, it's not just the lighter quality wood that bothers me, but the thinness of the canvas. The stuff can be poked or torn very easily. It's definitely worth it to pay more and get a real quality product.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:13 am

I received my order from Curry's art store in Toronto. The shipping took a week, which was quicker than advertised, so I was pleased. When I inspected the contents of the shipment during the weekend, I found that the contents were all in good shape, but the packaging had started to 'give' a bit here and there. They had labelled both boxes well, but could have taped them more securely.
The Artisan paints, all 200ml tubes, were shipped in their original boxes, and wrapped with lots of the plastic bubblewrap.

The 24" x 36" canvases had been on sale for $18.36. The product code on them was EXACTLY the same as the canvases I had purchased from a "truckload sale" at the local mall 2 weeks ago for $14 each. The primed canvas with reinforced backs were made in Canada, and looked fine. Ironically, Curry's had purchased them wholesale from the very same company that was manufacturing in Quebec and selling direct to the public. It IS a small small world after all!

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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Mon Oct 25, 2010 2:35 pm

Wow!! Sounds like you made a really good deal at the "truckload sale" at the mall. I'm sure you have more than enough canvases to use for now, but I bet you'll be watching for the "truckload sale" in the future. Still the one's from Curry's weren't bad, when you consider shipping and handling.

Dayle
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Mon Oct 25, 2010 3:09 pm

Hi Dayle;
It was strange to get a cheaper price on the exact same product, only difference being a different logo on the card inside the plastic wrap. The scanner code (UPC) was identical.

I intend to visit the mall sales person while he is still in town and discuss preordering more for his next venture to the East Coast. I believe he travels here every 6 months. I imagine he would be delighted to reserve some of his canvases for the next trip.

I would definitely order paint from Curry's again.

Next up, I want to buy and try some of the Cobra paints, maybe from Dick Blick in US.

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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:54 pm

Just went to Billings, MT to get new winter shoes for the car. Stopped in Michaels; 18x24 canvas @ 14.99 each with a penny plus sale of two for $15.00 !!!! Made in India. I didn't buy any; nothing left after the new "boots" for the car Crying or Very sad Laughing.
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:24 pm

Callie wrote:
I think 10 x 14 is one of my favorite sizes now, especially for landscapes. I order them 6 to a box (usually Winsor & Newton blue label) from ASW. Just checked the site - 6 for $18.22 Wink

I have seen that many artists seem to like the 10X14 format but wonder about framing? Do you usually hang them without frames, or do you have to custom frame each one of them?

Since I am just a beginner, but would like to frame them for my home at times, I have opted to go with 11X14 most of the time so I don't need custom frames (I'm cheap!) I wonder just how much better the 10X14s would look? Question
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:44 pm

Unfortunately I haven't found any ready-made frames for the 10 x 14 size.   I do have to get them custom made.   Working mostly with "grande vista" type of landscapes, a little longer horizontal-to-vertical ratio works a bit better for me.   Try the standard sizes for doing the layout and if you are comfortable with them you're good to go!
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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:47 pm

I wondering if Callie meant 11 x 14. I certainly wouldn't want to have special frames made all the time, either. As far as how they would look. 1/2 inch on either end probably wouldn't make any difference except for quadrupled expense of framing them. For some reason 10 by 14 sticks in mind for photographs, but I won't swear to it.

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PostSubject: Re: Canvases, Buying, Stretching, Grades   Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:50 pm

Thanks, you 2!

For photographs, 10X13 is the popular portrait size sold these days. So that makes 10X14 even more oddball! You can get 10X13 and 11X14 ready-made frames, but not 10X14! Smile
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