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Information on Canvas from Bill - to Amanda and all


From: Judy Decker (jdecker_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Fri Aug 01 2003 - 10:24:44 PDT

Bill Merrill tried to send this to the list but couldn't get the message
through so I am posting for him.
Bill is a professor - The closest I could find to what might be the school
(Is that it, Bill?). Bill's work sounds interesting to me. I asked him to
send some images. I know this message is a duplication to one list as I did
see Woody post it. I just don't remember which list it was. Amanda, feel
free to email Professor Merrill (


Artist canvas has different sizing amounts in it compared to regular
clothing fabrics. If you buy cotton duck at a fabric store, it'll work.
Stretch the canvas, but don't wash it first. If you want to for example
pour paint (acrylic) on the canvas like Morris Louis or Paul Jenkins, put
some mordant ( like alum ) in some warm water and use a stiff scrub brush,
use the mordant mixture and scrub the surface of the canvas. This will
break the surface tension of the gelatin sizing applied to the canvas at the
factory. Renaissance painters used rabbit skin glue to size the canvas,
make it taught, seal the linen and then paint the canvas surface with gesso
before painting. Gessoing the canvas keeps the oil paint from rotting the
canvas...linseed oil etc. rots raw canvas. If you size a canvas with
unflavored Knox gelatin, dissolve a package of gelatin in cold water and let
it bloom. After a few minutes stir the mix and heat it to near boiling - do
not let it burn. Apply the mix to the canvas surface with a big brush, let
the canvas dry and then gesso the surface of the canvas. I buy Frederix
cotton duck canvas for $5 or six dollars a yard and the canvas is 72" wide.
I don't size my canvas's with gelatin, I stretch the canvas and put several
coats of gesso on the canvas. I do paintings that are comprised of abutted
parts that are dimensionalized and the parts are bolted together. The backs
have another frame network over all the parts and the entire piece has
stretched over it. None of the framing network shows and the canvas seems
to float out from the wall. When stretching narrow, raised surface parts I
stretch the canvas on the bias so there is the possibility to really stretch
the canvas. I dampen the areas where the canvas needs to be pulled around a
corner. I may apply Elmer's waterproof glue under the canvas that is wet
sometimes staple the canvas to hold it in place until it dries, then I
remove the staples so they don't interfere when putting different parts

I build frames from brick molding and use clear 1 x 2 lumber for bracing.
If I am stretching a regular canvas, I don't staple the edges, I dampen the
corners and pull the canvas around the exposed edge and staple it so no
staples are exposed to the viewer. My canvas's are without frames as I
paint the edges.

A good book for you is entitled Painting; Visual and Technical fundamentals
by Nathan Goldstein. This covers all sorts of painting....good book!!!!!

I have taught painting for 35 years at the college level and am so impressed
with the fact that we still learn and grow throughout our lives.

Keep painting the best ones are still in you!

Bill Merrill

Judy Decker - Ohio
Incredible Art Department

(P.S. for Bill - today was a good day - smile - this is only post number 4
to Getty)

(P.P.S. for everyone...Anytime your messages don't go through. What has
worked for many is to unsubscribe - then resubscribe. Somehow that fixes
that "glitch").