How to Make an Acrylic Painting Canvas

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Making an acrylic painting canvas involves cutting a piece of canvas, linen or burlap to size, putting together stretcher bars, which are available pre-cut at any art store, and stapling the canvas to the back of the stretcher bars starting in the middle of all four sides. Stretch canvas around a wooden frame to create a 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 tips about how to prepare a canvas for acrylic painting. Get a piece of canvas, linen, whatever you'd like. Even some people prefer burlap, depending on how you apply your pigment, and then you put this canvas or linen on a stretch board. The stretch boards comes pre-manufactured at art supply stores. You put them together. Make sure that it's at the right angle, usually you can use the front means, you can measure or even use different means of making that the right angle. Now you need to add your canvas. What you need too is a stapler and a canvas pair of pliers. Always start in the middle, you tack the middle on four sides. And then some people start with the corners. I usually prefer to start from the middle again and go towards the corners, that way I stretch my canvas the way I want. After it's done, what you need- if you need a tighter canvas you can use these ears, and you hammer them inside these grooves that come with the stretch boards, and it will tighten the canvas. You need to cover your canvas with a primer, a gesso if you will. Traditionally they use to use rabbit skin glue, diluted with water, 1 part the blue, 15 parts of water, they would soak it over night, they would then heat it up the next morning, making sure that it doesn't boil, because it loses its properties. They would cover the entire canvas with the palm of their hands, they would scrape off the excess with a pallet knife of some sort, and after it was dry, they would cover it with the whiting, or what they use to call whiting traditionally. And in modern days we have gesso replacing that. Now in modern days we are lucky enough to have gesso available to us. We can skip the rabbit skin glue stage. We can directly use the gesso on the canvas. Make sure that you dilute your gesso 50/50 with water, preferably distilled water, and then add a little bit of medium to it, and add at least 4 coatings of gesso, thinned gesso, on your canvas. Each layer should go at the right angle to the previous stage, that means one horizontally, the second one should go vertically and so forth. After the gesso is bone dry, that means it's dry to the touch, you can start painting on that. Now this- although we prepared this for acrylic, the same canvas, the same ground can be used with oil as well. Have fun doing art.

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