Sunday, July 01, 2007

Making Canvas Panels

I've painted on stretched canvas, painted on panel and painted on canvas covered panel. All 3 of these types of support have totally different feels to them. I have found that I like certain qualities in each support. Stretched canvas is probably my favorite for the ease of blending on canvas (doing skies) and it's lightwieght charactaristic....but stretched canvas it expensive. I used to paint on Masonite panels in college and loved the finished look of paint on masonite. I mostly love the price per panel you get from cutting your own panel from a large sheet.
The next best thing is to cover the masonite panel with canvas glued on. I bought some panels from Ray Mar that are canvas covered and enjoy painting on those but they get pretty pricey. I decided to just make some. I didn't take a lot of pics along the way here but here are some pics that I did take.....
Seen here are 3- 12"x24", 2- 10"x20" and 1 9"x12" panels. I also cut another 12"x24" and a large 12"x36". All of these panels were cut from 2 sheets of masonite I bought at Home Depot for less than $4.00 per sheet. That's $8.00 and I cut 8 panels. Dick Blick sells 12"x24" canvases for about $18.74 each so that would have cost me $74.96 in that size alone. You can see the cost savings of painting on masonite. OK, I bought the roll of canvas too but that was about $26.00 for 6 yards of canvas....but that's that's 64 inches wide and 18 feet long...that's going to cover a lot of panels. One of the 10"x20"'s is flipped over to that back so you can see the dark side of the rough back. I sand the front before gluing on the canvas.
Here is the wide 12"x36" I finished and seen here with only 1 coat of gesso. I put on 3 coats. You cut your panels to size, sand the front surface, apply glue with a foam brush and then lay your canvas on top, smooth it flat. When it's dry enough I flip it over and glue the excess canvas to the back. On the panels I haven't finished I'll try trimming the canvas flush with the edge to see how that comes out...that will be exactly how Ray Mar does their panels. I was going to glue with Acrylic Medium or Acylic Gel but then I read an article online about an art teacher who used Mod Podge to do his panels. It costs about 1/3 what Acylic Medium or Gel costs and dried the canvas rock solid to the panels. Mod Podge worked so well that I don't think I'll have a problem trimming the edges. Mod Podge also has an Acid Free version so get that if you can find it although I'm not sure it would be neccesary, you will gesso the canvas after the glue has dried.

Here you can see how I folded the canvas wrapped around to the back. The dark area is where the glue was applied. The folded over canvas adds some thickness to the edges so I'll try trimming the canvas flush with unfinished ones. Here is a shot of the texture of the canvas after final gesso has been applied. Very much like the Ray Mar panel surface so I'm happy.The Masonite I purchased was Tempered Masonite as opposed to Un-Tempered Masonite. If you can find untempered masonite buy it and use that. Tempered masonite is impregnated with oils so it stands up to outdoor usage. People worry about the oil coating getting to the paint. The bulk of the oil is really on the surface so sanding takes off most of the oil coating. I am covering it with the glue and the canvas and the final coats of gesso so the oil in the board is not going to effect the painting at all, but, get untempered masonite in case you decide to paint on the masonite without covering your panel with canvas. I plan on covering all of my boards with canvas so tempered masonite was ok for my purpose.

I used a table saw to cut my boards but you can do it with a metal ruler and an exacto knife with new blades, just takes longer to cut. If you don't have a table saw find someone who does because it's so much easier. These are big panels so get the thicker masonite of you plan on doing larger sizes. When I glued the canvas to the front the board warped (bowed) some but after applying the glue to the backside it straightened out completely.

Larry Seilor and Marc Hanson have written great articles on WC for making panels and I think you will enjoy reading both processes. I could get in more detail on this but their articles cover it all completely but this is basically how I did it and you can do them as you like. It's not rocket science, don't make a big thing out of it.....


Cut tempered or untempered masonite to size.

Glue canvas to panel using Acylic Medium, Gel or Mod Podge.

Prime with gesso front (and back if you like).

Buy an ice cream with the money you are saving and Get Painting!


Anonymous said...

Nice Job Ron.

I use MDF board. 6mm thickness, up to 30" x 20" isn't over heavy. Above that, I like stretched canvas.

I assume you can get MDF in the USA. I like it because it is stable, smooth on both sides and doesn't bow much when you apply canvas. If it does, glue decorators' heavyweight lining-paper on the back as a balancer. (I do this anyway as it neatens the job off.) I buy the MDF in whole sheets and have the sawmill cut it into 90 degree panels panels for me. Let them have the dust!
Just thought you might be interested.

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi John,
I've been wanting to try MDF panel making. I had a lot of gallery wrapped canvases I made so I've been using those lately.

I'll give the MDF a try next. I've noticed a lot of plein air painters were using it on WC. It's also easier to find nowadays than untempered masonite.

Thanks for the info John.

Chris Willey said...

I seal the masonite first with matte medium. I let it dry for 24 hours. This is just an added barrier between the masonite and the canvas. Then I glue using matte medium (I think modge podge is just another acrylic medium). I like to use name brands made for professional artists so that I don't have to worry about quality issues. The panels are still a bargain, even with quality artists' materials, compared to purchased panels. I also don't wrap the edges. I trim them flush.

Green Alien said...

Do you guys ever find that the board/canvas warps after a while? I was wondering if for a half sheet size (4x4) I would need to build a wood frame for the back and attach it to that? What do you think?

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Chris - I've stopped wrapping the canvas around the board and now trim it flush too. I now only make small boards, 6x6,6x8,8x10,9x12,11x14 and 12x16. I also use PVA glue now. I've got other posts on my Blog showing the newer panels. Thanks for your input!

Hi Green Alien - After gluing I stack my boards and this keeps them flat. On occasion I will get a board that begins to get a slight warp...very slight. Once mounted in a frame all is fine.
If you are using a half sheet I would totally build a frame for the panel.

Anonymous said...

What should one use to glue a giclee print on canvas to a masonite board to insure that glue does not affect the print?

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi...first off, the normal procedure with displaying giclee prints is to stretch it on stretcher bars and frame it like any normal painting. If you still want to glue it to masonite be warned....some glues emit gasses when the drying process starts and this can leach up to the ink pigment and cause the ink to form bubbles separating from the canvas material.
Here is an article regarding this

Looks like Miracle muck would be the best thing to try so here is a link to Judsons where you can buy it....
Good luck!

Kassie said...

Hello, I recently purchased 2 canvas prints of pictures I had taken. However unknown to myself they didnt leave the extra space to stretch them. So I am lost as to what to do. I dont want to frame and lose the canvas feel. I would really like them on a canvas type box frame. Would you suggest using modge podge and adhering them to a pre stretched canvas on a box frame?

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Kassie,
Yes, you could easily glue the canvas to stretcher bars but unless you use tacks or staples the canvas won't be very tight.

You might try to cut 1x2 that you could purchase at Home Depot because that would give you more of a flat surface to glue the canvas to. Good luck Kassie!

Tim said...

Hey Ron, just googling around for info on Mod Podge. Any particular reason why you stopped using it?
Cheers from Sweden, TIm

Ron Guthrie said...

Hi Tim,
I stopped using Mod Podge because I have to drive 30 miles to the north or west to get it. It is easier to get PVA glue right here in town at my local ACE Hardware store. I just glued up some new canvases the other day using MDF board....good stuff but warps a little more than untempered big deal, once it is mounted to the frame all is well.