Wendell Myers Fine Art

Month: May, 2012

Canvas: Stretch it or Buy it?

Canvases being stretched on studio floor

I have gone back and forth between stretching my own canvases and buying pretstretched, prepared canvases.  It’s not easy to know which approach is really better.  Back when I was in art school (in Milwaukee, in the ’70s) we all were much too cool to buy prepared canvases.  We were too cool to buy pre-made stretcher strips!  In order to be seen by your classmates as a “serious” art student, you had to buy molding (brick molding was a favorite) and build your OWN stretchers on which to stretch your canvas!

Each approach, however, has its own advantages and disadvantages.  Buying prepared canvases certainly saves a LOT of time, and this is time you can use for painting, or for promoting your work.  On the other hand, in general it costs a lot more than stretching your own canvas.  The biggest downside, however, is that you are stuck with someone ELSE’S idea of acceptable quality.  Much of what’s available in prepared canvas is simply junk, and just not good enough for creating works that you hope to sell for hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars!

Stretching your own canvases can save you quite a bit of money, but it takes a lot of time, and, contrary to popular belief, it is NOT easy to do well.  It is, however, a skill that one can beome quite good at with some consistent effort.  To me, the BIGGEST upside is that it puts you in control of quality.  Very high quality canvas is available in bulk from many sources.  The best stretchers available are very much higher quality than what’s generally available in prestretched canvas.  Of course, that gets us back to the cost factor.  The very highest quality stretchers, which combine wood with aluminum for strength and dimensional stability, get quite expensive!

More on quality in my next post.


Ok, so that plan had mixed results.

My painting studio mirrored painting wall

Mixed results:  I did manage to get ALL of the finished paintings OUT of my studio. Which means they will be out of my way for CREATING!  However, I was not able to hang as many as I would have liked.  My family has a very contemporary aesthetic, and didn’t like the way my paintings were beginning to “clutter” the nice, white walls (!).  I have to admit, things were beginning to look a little cluttered.  Think “art fair” vs. gallery.  So, now I have 63 finished paintings hung around the house, and another 55 stored in various places…In my studio now, are ONLY:  10 paintings in progress, and 15 prepared canvases, as well as all my “stuff.”  Paints, brushes, worktables, palettes, etc.  Of course, since my studio doubles as the family’s exercise room, I have to share it with a Nordic Trac ski machine and a large (foldable, thankfully) treadmill, but I do manage to work around those issues.


No Storage Space

After painting seriously for more than two years, I am encountering a common problem.  I am being crowded out of my studio by finished paintings! 

Painting studio

You can see by the photo above that my studio is getting cluttered with stuff, and this photo was taken several weeks ago, so it’s even worse now!!  Every time I try to work, I find myself relocating stacks of finished paintings before I can actually DO anything. Then I invariably find that something I need is hidden behind one of the relocated stacks, and I move it again!  This scenario is repeated multiple times during each work session.  This has become a major disincentive to getting into the studio!!  NO MORE!!  I have spent a lot of time this weekend hanging finished paintings around the house.  I want this to accomplish two things: 1) Get the clutter out of my studio so I can work.  2) Make it easier to show the occasional interested visitor my work (this is actually a good potential source of sales–so it should be as easy as possible).  I am starting to hear complaints that I now have too many paintings up around the house, so I will move my hanging efforts down to the level of the kids’ rooms, family and exercise room.