Painting on Canvas instead of Wooden Panels

 

As I am getting older I see that I am having a hard time carrying large panels around the studio and moving many paintings that are so heavy to galleries.  I have only been using wooden panels but want to paint larger than 24″ X 24″ and decided that there has to be another way to paint in encaustic and use raw canvas for my paintings.  Many artists have warned me not to work on canvas because the wax surface could crack if a painting did not have a solid backing.   After doing a lot of research,  I have witnessed artists such as Tony Scherman, Lora Murphy, Paco Benitez and Leslie Newmann, to name a few, paint with pigmented beeswax on canvas.   Some like Sherman and Murphy paint directly on canvas stapled around wooden stretcher frames.   Murphy uses beeswax and mycrocrystalline.  I have talked to Lora Murphy and she says that she has had no trouble with her paintings cracking.  Leslie Newman paints her larger paintings on hard core foam panels. She paints layer of encaustic gesso on the surface of her panels before beginning to paint in encaustic.  Additionally,  I watched a YouTube demonstration on the restoration of an Ansel Kiefer painting.  Kiefer’s painting, made with different materials on canvas, had become unstable so the conservationist at the museum added the foam panels.   It was the firmness of the foam that stabilized Kiefer’s painting.

So, over the past two months I have been experimenting by adding 1/2″ foam paper backings behind raw canvas and then stretching the canvas around the top layer of the foam and stapling to a wooden stretcher and it works.  My paintings are light and have a solid surface to work on.  The following are the steps of my experiment.

Picture 1: I bought a wooden canvas stretcher, two sides and two bottoms, that are 20″ X 24″. I then bought two foam panels and butted them together and glued them to the edges of the wooden stretcher bars and taped them together.

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Picture 2 is the side view of the foam panel on the stretchers.  IMG_3121 2

Picture 3: The back of the panel.  As  you can see, the foam panel is in the front of the stretcher bars and I glued only the foam panel to the wooden stretcher and stapled the canvas to the back.

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Picture 4: I bought raw canvas and pulled the canvas around the panel and the wooden stretcher.  I then stapled the canvas at the back of the panel.  As you can see in this picture the canvas was not that flat on the front but after painting encaustic gesso onto the surface it flattened the surface totally down after it dried.

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Picture 5:  Painted the surface with encaustic gesso and it became completely flat against the panel.

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The following are the completed painting steps.

Picture 1 the painted background. I use a heat gun to fuse the surface but fuse lightly.  Once the layers are established, I can fuse a bit more rigorously.  I do wear a mask when I fuse just incase there are fumes coming from the panels.  I have not experienced any foam smell because there is a thick canvas barrier and a paper covering between the wax surface and the foam surface.

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Painting 2 the background fused, finished and ready to add the lines.  IMG_3759

Painting completed. 20″ x 24″

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Here is the second one, 20″ X 24,” that I did also on raw canvas wrapped around a foam panel and a wooden stretcher.

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Here is the 3rd one, 18″ X 24″, on a raw canvas stapled around a foam panel and stretcher bars.

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To conclude, I love the lightness of these paintings.  I can scrape down the surface in the same way as I scraped the wax surface down on a wooden panel.  I can frame them in floater frames.  When I paint on raw canvas and foam panels I will make sure that the foam is archival and has a permanency that will last for many years. Also, one can use a thick cardboard panel and paint in the same way as with the foam.  Many possibilities to experiment with.

 

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Author: Anna

I am a painter and sculptor and have a studio beside a beautiful lake. For the past 40 years, I designed and built puppets, masks and sculptures and had solo exhibitions of these works. In 2013, I went back to painting and started working in encaustic. I am interested in issues of identity in terms of weavings as coverings to protect or to hide. The intersecting lines that I create over landscapes create an internal conversation versus the external between nature vs. nurture. Or how actual or psychological barriers erected in an environment can disrupt a cherished place. My engagement with woven structures speak to complex dialogues between identity and psychological barriers. My second passion is teaching. I try to encompass more than teaching my students art techniques. I encourage students to, not only learn the language of art, but to also engage in critiquing art. Additionally, we continually explore ways to enhance one's voice through art in relation to contemporary and historical issues. Encaustic adventures is a blog where not only processes and techniques are taught, but hopefully this sites will engage in a dialogue about the making of art, notions of voice, identity, themes, and ways to establish a body of work within an historical contexts.

2 thoughts on “Painting on Canvas instead of Wooden Panels”

  1. Hi Anna,
    Thank-you for your insight on this. Very cool. I often think that these panels are getting very heavy.
    What kind of foam board is archival? What brand do you use?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Karen, thanks for reading my blog and responding. Really appreciate getting feedback. As for foam being archival – you can buy acid free foam boards that you can buy at different locations. Uline is such a great place to buy cardboard and foam products. This is the site https://www.uline.ca/BL_1342/White-Acid-Free-Foam-Core-Board?pricode=YB911&AdKeyword=%2Bacid%20%2Bfree%20%2Bfoam%20%2Bboards&AdMatchtype=b&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIy5HAwfja2QIVjAOGCh12_QIDEAAYASAAEgK86fD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

      I also am looking into other products like poster board, cardboard, mat board, etc. The idea is to have a solid firm background when one is using wax and fusing. Also, I can stretch my canvas over any of these boards and glue them to the back and paint away. So many possibilities and they are so light to carry. Will let my WordPress followers know where my research will take me.

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