Oil painting materials:
CANVASES, STRETCHERS AND PANELS
You should have plenty of canvas on hand, and it would be well if you had it all stretched ready for use. Many a good day’s work is lost because of the time wasted in getting a canvas ready. It is not necessary to have many kinds or sizes. It is better in fact to settle on one kind of surface which suits you, and to have a few practical sizes of stretchers which will pack together well, and work always on these. You will find that by getting accustomed to these sizes you work more freely on them. You can pack them better, and you can frame them more conveniently, because one frame will always do for many pictures. Perhaps there is no one piece of advice which I can give you which will be of more practical use outside of the principles of painting, than this of keeping to a few well-chosen sizes of canvas, and the keeping of a number of each always on hand.
It is all well enough to talk about not showing one’s work too soon. But we all do, and always will like to see our work under as favorable conditions as possible. And a good frame is one of the favorable conditions. But good frames are expensive, and it is a great advantage to be able to have a frame always at hand which you can see your work in from time to time; and if you only work on four sizes of canvas, say, then four frames, one for each size, will suit all your pictures and sketches. Use the same sizes for all kinds of work too, and the freedom will come, as I say, in the working on those sizes.
Don’t have odd sizes about. You can just as well as not use the regular sizes and proportions which colormen keep in stock, and there is an advantage in being able to get a canvas at short notice, and it will be one of your own sizes, and will fit your frame. All artists have gone through the experience of eliminating odd sizes from their stock, and it is one of the practical things that we all have to come down to sooner or later, and the sooner the better,—to have the sizes which we find we like best, not too many, and stick to them. I would have you take advantage of this, and decide early in your work, and so get rid of one source of bother.
Rough and Smooth.—The best canvas is of linen. Cotton is used for sketching canvas. But you would do well always to use good grounds to work on. You can never tell beforehand how your work will turn out; and if you should want to keep your work, or find it worth while to go on with it, you would be glad that you had begun it on a good linen canvas. The linen is stronger and firmer, and when it has a “grain,” the grain is better.
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