Monday, June 18, 2012

Painting on Unstretched Canvas - and Artsipelago

Trina's Lupines, 9x12, oil 
For those of you visiting Downeast Maine or Coastal New Brunswick this summer, there's a new cultural guide out for the area.  It's called Artsipelago, which is a play on the word "archipelago."  (You can visit the website at  I'm on the list of artists, under Friar's Bay Studio Gallery.  I hope you'll stop by for a visit.

On another note, I've been playing with painting on unstretched canvas.  Although in the past I haven't cared much for painting on canvas because of the texture, I'm enjoying painting on this particular canvas.  I picked up a small roll of  Fredrix Style 589 Portrait Acrylic Primed Linen Canvas from Dick Blick.  I don't find the weave objectionable.  The two paintings accompanying this post were painted on it.

Why paint on unstretched canvas? I've heard that it's the best way to travel. Lighter than carrying a stack of hardboard panels, a dozen pieces of canvas and one backboard take up very little room.  If you're flying to, say, New Zealand (where I'm teaching a workshop next March,) this method would be very handy.  I just tape a piece to a backboard with masking tape and have at it.

Of course, one might ask, But what if the paintings are still wet?  As Mr McGuire told Ben in The Graduate, "I just want to say one word - plastics."  A sheet of plastic wrap over each piece will keep the painting from smearing if it's still tacky.  If you're prone to an impasto technique, you'll lose some texture, but you can easily add more paint once you're home.  Or, you can use alkyds such as Gamblin's Fastmatte paints and have the painting dry more quickly.  When everything's dry, Lineco Neutral pH Adhesive, a reversible and archival glue, can be used to mount the painting on a suitable backboard.

Summer Shadows, 9x12, oil


Aline said...

Lovely paintings. I don't like the texture of canvas either but I never realized you were painting on a smooth surface. Nevertheless, I have been using canvas pads (oil primed) a lot lately, which works pretty much the same as the unstretched canvas. I use what I thought was removable glue--Mighty Muk--but recently had to try to remove a badly applied painting from a panel, and found it impossible. I used iron and blow dryer. Nibbled around the edges, but the support started to tear if I got vigorous. As desperate to rescue this masterpiece. Any advice?

Michael Chesley Johnson said...

Hi Aline - Normally I paint on just gessoed panels, but since I've been making my own lately, there's actually quite a bit of texture! As for the Mighty Muk, I've not heard of it. I suspect it's a type of PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue. There are PVA glues that are reversible; but not all are. The reversible ones come in two types. One type reverses with heat. (I think Miracle Muck is that type.) The other is reversible with water, which is what the Lineco PVA is. You might look up an art conservator and see what she says. Good luck!

Kimberly Vanlandingham said...

Except for my ebay line, I paint all of my large paintings on unstretched canvas. They're impossible to travel with otherwise. I hate stretching them, but it's the lesser of two evils. Love the painting!

James said...

Love the paintings a lot. I'm really interested to paint on an unstretched canvas, which is something new to me. Nice one Michael!