VIDEO: How to Stretch a Canvas

October 2020

Have you ever looked at a painting in a gallery and wondered what the BACK might look like?
Are you an artist wondering how to properly stretch a canvas?

If so, then this is the video for you.

I've just been commissioned to create a very large painting. There are 3 canvas panels each measuring 6 feet by 4 feet. However, before I can begin the creative part of the project, there's a lot of preparation involved.


Here's a step-by-step list of how I stretch my canvas and fold the corners.
My method also stiffens the canvas enough to work with robust mixed-media.

1. Build the heavy duty stretcher bars and glue the joints. Be sure to brace the frame every two feet at least.

2. Cut the canvas to size, leaving about 3-4 inches all around to wrap cleanly over the frame.

3. Stretch the canvas tight and staple. Move back and forth to opposite sides every foot or so to keep tension balanced.

4. Leave about 6 inches on either side of the corners.

5. Fold the corner at 45 degrees and cut off a triangle to reduce bulk.

6. Tighten, fold and staple one side at a 45 degree angle. See the video.

7. Tighten, fold and staple the other side at 90 degrees. See the video.

8. After finishing, flood the canvas with watered gesso to soak into the canvas. When dry the canvas will be tight as a drum.

9. Apply several coats of gesso / primer and/or texture medium to stiffen the surface for mixed media.

10. Personally, I also prime the back of the canvas with a thick layer of gesso, for even more stability.

Peace - Shirley