The stages of attachment, building canvas stretchers and stretching canvas.

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48″ x 72″ canvas stretcher. Oil painting work in progress in back.

I wish I could make the idea of building canvas stretchers sexy, but it is just some milled lumber. There is something special about building things yourself though. In this case building the skeleton of the skin that is the canvas that is almost never seen or thought of. Eight 45 degree cuts attached to make perfect 90 degree angles. A few pieces of strait lumber to keep the rectangle from flexing, so when the canvas is attached it will always be flush when hung. Simple ideas but sometimes not easy to complete.

I have been building variations of painting surfaces for 20 years or so now.  The first semester at school, A painting instructor of mine at The School of the Art Institute approached me while in a painting studio and I think he asked why I was working so small. As an art student I was pretty broke and working larger at that time was not in my budget. He suggested I go down to the wood shop at the school and start making my own canvas stretchers and stretch my own, as it would be more cost effective and I could start working larger. A semester later I was asked to apply for the advanced painting program by the head of the painting department. The rest is history as they say.

More that being cost effective, it became this integral part of how I make work. It makes the painting process deeper for me. I am not just slapping some paint on something I picked up at the art store. I was part of the birth of the surface that I will then lovingly apply paint, building composition and having a connection with the end result.

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Get Your Phil of Art: How to make a canvas stretcher for paintings.

Here is a silly instructional video about how I put my canvas stretchers together. Shooting alone got the best of me on this one. Let me know what you think.

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