Monday, April 11, 2011

Stretchers vs. Plastic

Lots of little jobs today including adding some art-print options to my website and ordering canvas. I like the TopGun canvas I painted on last week but I don't like the stretching process much. Stretcher bars are also rather expensive (£40 for wood and up to £70 for aluminium ones!) AND it seems that cracking and deterioration in paintings is mainly due to a flexible surface instead of a rigid one. So, I've been toying with the idea of sticking the canvas to a solid surface. These paintings are proving expensive now. The canvas is £16 a metre, so I thought that (the normally too expensive) acrylic plastic might be feasible at last.

Lots of options... acrylic is tough and stable and costs about £50 for about £40 of stretchers, PLUS no need to stretch, just glue the canvas on to the surface. Aluminium composite is another option, which is about the same price. Would this be more stable? Big sheets of acrylic might flex and bow. Polycarbonate is at least 50% more expensive. Is this better? It's much tougher but can yellow with age. Wood... too heavy. If I knew the acrylic was rigid I could prime and paint directly on that and ignore the canvas all together... but then every little scratch would show up so the piece would have to be perfect.

Choices choices! Is it better to go for the best and most expensive materials, or compromise? For me, I'm tending towards the best. If anyone assumes a painting is going to be a masterpiece it should be the artist (I mean, why aim to paint a substandard painting..!?), and the most luxurious and perfect bed should be made and set ready for the queen of paintings. If she turns out to be less than regal and a little flaky around the edges then at least she can claim to have a bed fit for a queen.


John Salmon. said...

Hmmm! I know exactly what you mean Mark and I commend you for it but, on the other hand there is another way to look at things.

Don't forget about the work of the conservators. You wouldn't want to deny them the chance of looking after your paintings in the future.

Picasso used all sorts of unstable materials from napkins to cardboard from cartons and gouache paint which can fade while you look at it.

The museum conservators do a great job of looking after old artworks. They love to handle an old masters original work and they love what they do.

It would be shame to deny them the opportunity of looking after your babies in the future :)

Andrew Williams said...

I am reminded of da Vinci's "Last Supper"...

Painting Tips and Tricks said...

I like your blog!...Daniel

jill said...

Decisions, decisions, Im really sorry I cant help you with this one. Your work is worthy of the best quality you can afford but I also agree with John Salmon above and think your work will stand up anyway no matter what it is painted on. I have seen some fantastic work on brown paper. Good luck with whatever you decide

Mark Sheeky said...

Good points from everyone! Perhaps the best solution is to pick surfaces based on the picture and nothing more.