Posts Tagged ‘120102’

Canvassing the Possibilities, part 2

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

In my quest to familiarize myself with alternative watercolor surfaces for my work, I bought a pad of cotton watercolor canvas (Fredrix brand) to try. As I unwrapped the heavy pad, the weight of the sheets pulled the entire pad away from their backing board. The adhesive strip along the top was not strong enough to support the weight of the mass of canvas.

However, I decided to try using it as I would a pad of watercolor paper, as I supposed was intended. Using bulldog clips, I fastened the canvas pad back against the backing board, set it up on my easel, and got to work. After wetting, the canvas didn’t stretch but actually shrank. Where the canvas was clipped to the board, shrinkage was negligible, but areas that I had failed to clip shrank enough to form noticeable ripples in the fabric as it pulled diagonally against the clips. Having worked primarily with paper and stretched canvas in the past, I had not expected this to occur to such an extent.

In this case, to encourage more even shrinkage, before applying fixative, I reversed the canvas and, leaving it entirely unstretched, I sprayed the back with water, spreading the moisture with my hands to ensure even coverage. Then I allowed it to dry thoroughly. Most of the ripples disappeared as the canvas dried. Overall, the 20”x16” canvas lost approximately ½” in length (in width as seen in the horizontal orientation below) and ¼” in width (or in height as shown in the illustration).


Lessons learned: 1) Use the sheets singly, rather than on the provided pad, and 2) Stretch even page-like sheets of canvas before painting—it’s shrinkable cotton fabric, not paper. Whether on stretcher bars or by affixing the canvas to a sturdy backing, the canvas must be stretched before wetting. I will use 12”x16” stretcher bars for the remaining sheets, to allow enough edge to wrap around the bars.

More about my experience with the canvas next time.