The free art workshops continue at the Red Bull House of Art. Yesterday, Round 2 artist Michelle Tanguay demonstrated how to stretch a canvas. Red Bull provided bundles of canvas fabric and wooden frame bars. Although geared for people at all levels of artistic skill, the topic drew a more specialized group of people than Craig Nowak’s workshop on drip painting two weeks ago.
Those in attendance included Kelly Guillory, an artist familiar with the wet canvas method, and Cassie Clark, who works at Creative Art Studio in Royal Oak, where they buy canvases already made. Clark brought along her mother, Patti, an administrative assistant, who is visiting her from Chicago.
“I don’t like my canvases super-tight,” Tanguay said to Guillory, explaining why she does not use the wet canvas method. Tanguay will be painting a portrait of Niagara, and in turn Guillory will be painting a portrait of Tanguay. Both Tanguay and Guillory plan to use canvases they themselves have made.
By making canvases herself, an artist can really customize the finished product, and also save a significant bit of money. For one of her big pieces that was in Red Bull House of Art, Round 2, Tanguay estimates that a pre-made canvas would have cost about $400. By making it herself instead, it only cost about $70.
The next workshop will probably be in another two weeks but neither the presenter nor the topic have been decided yet, but will probably be announced on the gallery’s Facebook page.
Update, July 3, 2013: A workshop with Edward Foster has been announced for Saturday, July 13, at 12 p.m. In his paintings for Round 3, Foster demonstrated a masterly command of subtle color nuances. The topic of the workshop is color mixing techniques, according to the announcement.
Iron the canvas
The first step is to iron the canvas. Canvas by itself is sold folded in sections smaller than the typical finished canvas. Thus ironing is necessary to get rid of the fold wrinkles.
Assemble the frame
The second step is to assemble the wooden frame. For the workshop, Red Bull provided wooden frame bars in sets of four; these are easily assembled either by hand entirely or with the help of a mallet.
Place the frame
The third step is to place the wooden frame on the canvas. The canvas should be just a bit larger than the wooden frame, so that it can be folded over to cover the wooden frame bars but still leave exposed the center back part.
Staple the canvas to the frame
The fourth step is to staple the canvas to the wooden frame with a staple gun. One should pull the canvas with each staple. Depending on the size of the canvas, more than a dozen staples may be needed. The first staple joins the canvas to the middle of the top bar of the frame. The second staple goes on the middle of the bottom bar. Each pair of staples should be matched to opposing locations on the frame, leaving the corners for last. Each corner gets two staples, with the first getting covered up by a fold of canvas; Tanguay likens this to “wrapping a present.”
The fifth step is to apply gesso to the canvas. Tanguay recommends applying two thin layers. “I’ve done too many layers and then I have to sand it down.” With just two layers of gesso, the canvas should be dry and ready to be painted on in less than an hour.