Canvas images – Did I buy the right thing and.. how do I get it framed?

Canvas works come in a wide range of types and sizes, from images worth a fortune, created by contemporary or historic artists. Then of course there are the budget priced ones we pick up on holidays, from a ‘two dollar shop’ or from a door to door Hawker wanting to make some cash, “It was so cheap” or “It was a great memory jogger of our holiday…”.

Framing even the simplest canvas takes time and effort, with the framer having to take into consideration if the image is square, what size of stretcher frame to use and how much tension to put on the fabric.

The idea of painting onto canvas as a process, has stood the test of time and is considered a traditional approach by most artists who want to create images for us to enjoy. The canvas is stretched over a timber frame and was traditionally held in place with steel tacks, staples took over as the attachment method of choice. Often the canvas is taken off the initial frame to make them easier to transport from that wonderful holiday away.

The painting can be left on the stretcher and hung on the wall, or it can have an added decorative frame added depending on your decor, budget and needs. Generally canvas works are not put under glass unless their age or fragility dictates the need for it.

The challenge for the consumer is to know at least a little about what they are getting and if it is worth the money they are about to spend. Firstly let’s ask some questions, is the canvas work aimed at decorating an area? Going to be a short term decorator item, or for a few years perhaps? Or is it intended to last many years due to its value or deeper aesthetic appeal

So let’s take a two pronged approach

1 – The decorator item – You are not too concerned if it will last, you just want to be able to hang it. You could go for ‘uber contemporary’ and pin it to the wall. Or we could stretch it on a frame for you with the hanging wire in place to make it ready to hang. These cheaper paintings are often done on lightweight materials like calico or cheap materials like old roller blinds, you can see the weave of the material but that’s about it’s only connection to canvas.

2 – The valued artwork – Perhaps this is a certified work, or from a reputable gallery or artist and taking it off the frame was for transport only. Some of these works come as a flat item, never stretched, but painted out flat, usually taped to a board for the artist to work on. These more expensive works are often done on heavier duty cotton or linen with carefully prepared surfaces with an undercoat called Gesso.

If you do a quick search online or in an art store you will find there are various types and brands of higher quality canvas of varying thicknesses and fineness of weave.

You will also soon realise there is a vast array of paints and pigments artists can use on a canvas. The traditional being oil paint, with the more modern Acrylics offering a faster drying alternative through to pigment based inkjet prints onto canvas.

Like canvases the paint and pigments are of varying standards and many will have a level of lightfastness printed on the side of the paint tube. Professional contemporary artists making a solid income from of their work will use expensive paints knowing they have exceptional archival and lightfast properties, as well as being made from top quality ingredients which are often a pleasure to move around the canvas.

If you are in any doubt about how you should frame your canvas images, then chat to your friendly professional picture framer for ideas and inspiration. At the Picture Framing Shak we love to advise customers on the right approaches to framing, after all we are passionate about framing.

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