Preparation of canvas and Nakedart frames

How to prepare canvas for oil painting

1. Take a sturdy canvas stretcher and cut unprimed canvas three to four inches oversize on all sides, depending on how tough your fingers are, as you will be pulling tension to the canvas over the stretcher. You can buy a canvas stretcher tool, but I have found it useless, good luck if you want to try it. I use a 20 ounce cotton canvas.

2. Wrap the canvas around to the back and staple, using a staple gun in the centre of the stretcher side. Go to the oposite side and pull the canvas moderately tight, ensuring the warp and weft are straight. Repeat on the other sides.

3. Go to one of the side staples and pull the canvas on one side of the staple toward the corner and toward the back. Repeat on the other side of the staple. Go to the opposite side and evenly do the same again, but now start increasing the tension, but keeping the canvas even and straight. Repeat on the other to perpendicular sides.

4. The corners are the most difficult to do, requiring equal tension across the length and width of the canvas as you pull toward the corners and make a two pleated corner fold (hospital corners style) while you staple. Everything should be flat and even.

5. When the stapling of the canvas is complete insert wedges into the stretcher and tap lightly with a hammer, so that the canvas tightens just a little bit.

6. Rabbit skin glue is prepared by soaking the crystals overnight and warming in a bain marie until the crystals fully disolve and the solution is warm. Get it too hot and it is ruined.

7. Apply three coats of Rabbit skin glue, leaving six hours between coats. The glue in the pot will solidify as it cools, but gently warm it again in the bain marie.

8. Your canvas is now ready for priming. Acrylic primer gives a more absorbent surface and oil primer takes longer to dry, so you have to remain patient, but gives a tougher surface. Give two coats of primer.

9. Work broadly with thinned oil paint until you're happy and stop. Put canvas aside to dry for a couple of weeks. Freshen the surface when you come back to paint again with a solution of Ammonia. Repeat drying and the Ammonia treatment every time you are happy with your progress before starting the next session.


How to make the unique Nakedart frames

Nakedart frames are handmade from sawn timber. They have a unique profile, presenting the paintings to the viewer. The paintings sit proud of the frame revealing the edges of the paintings which are painted.

The edges of the frames are routed and the face grooved with an angle-grinder before mitring and biscuit jointing.

They are then painted sympathetically with the painting and can be styled to compliment your home. The hanging wire on the back is  recessed so that the painting will hang flat to your wall.

All paintings in the Naked Bike Ride series and selected paintings in other series are framed this way.