How to Make a Canvas Board to Paint

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Making a canvas board to paint on can be done by soaking a piece of canvas in diluted rabbit skin glue overnight, warming up the canvas, smoothing it over a board, wrapping the edges around the back and allowing it to dry. Create a canvas board instead of using stretched canvas with information from an experienced artist in this free video on painting.

Part of the Video Series: Oil & Acrylic Painting Tips
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Koorash Angali with angali.com. I'm going to give you some basic instruction about how to prepare a canvas board and what do we mean a canvas board versus a regular canvas. Canvas board refers to a panel covered with canvas instead of using a stretcher for the canvas. What we need to do basically is to make some sort of glue. Traditionally the best choice would have been Rabbit Skin glue. You have to soak it in water over night. The proportion would be one part Rabbit Skin glue, fifteen parts water, leave it over night, in the morning you have to heat it up, but you have to watch that it doesn't boil because as soon as it boils it would lose its properties. When it's ready you would cover your board with the glue, you would lay your canvas, which you already have cut to the size. Normally you would leave about one inch on each side. You would cover the panel with the glue, you lay your canvas on top of it, leave one inch on each side on each side of the panel, and then smooth it out with the palm of your hand. When it's completely smooth, smooth it out, you can always move it around and the canvas would hardly ever move. You have to watch for it anyway. After it's covered on the other side you need to add some more glue on this side and overlap the canvas on four sides and leave it until it's dried. When it's completely dried you use the same Rabbit Skin glue that you have stored in a jar and with the palm of your hand you would cover the entire canvas which now is in this shape, with the Rabbit Skin glue and then you can always scrape off some of the excess of the glue with a pallet knife until it's completely smooth. When the glue is dried, then you can add your gesso on top of it. Normally you would need at least two or three coats of gesso applied in right angle. That means if you apply the first layer vertically, the second layer should be horizontally and so forth. In many instances I prefer even four coatings. It depends on how smooth I want the surface to be. You have to make sure that the gesso is not thick. So you need to thin down the gesso fifty fifty with water, preferably distilled water which doesn't have any minerals or chemicals and so forth. After the gesso is bone dry, that means it's dry to the touch, you can use the panel.

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