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Painting on Canvas

  • 1.  Painting on Canvas

    Posted 09-12-2019 09:05
    We have very little storage space off of our gym stage and no way to hang backdrops from above the stage. So I was looking into creative ways to have scenery backdrops and someone suggested large banner frames and painting on canvas. I have purchased large banner frames (which are great because they fold up into a small bag). I was told to get large canvas drop clothes (like painters use) and then to stretch the canvas around the frame and secure it. Then to treat the canvas with Gesso before painting. I was talking to the art teacher and she said the Gesso wasn't necessary and painting right onto the canvas would be fine.

    So I am wondering which way to go before I purchase Gesso and/or paint. Has anyone painted on drop cloth canvas? Did you treat it with a primer like Gesso first? What kind of paint did you use? I haven't purchased the canvas yet, is there something better to use? Thanks for any help you can give!!

    Amy Williams
    District Librarian/Theater Teacher
    Thespian Troupe #8881
    Auburn High School
    Auburn, IL

  • 2.  RE: Painting on Canvas

    Posted 09-12-2019 10:43
    There's lots of good information online about painting theatre backdrops, including some videos. An hour or so online will give you a good place to start. Just do a search for "painting theatre backdrops."

    George F. Ledo
    Set designer

  • 3.  RE: Painting on Canvas

    Posted 09-13-2019 06:41
    When I build flats I simply stretch muslin over the frames that we build ... I’m not sure but I’m guessing muslin is cheaper than canvas. Then we prime and then paint ...nothing special ... I have flats backstage with 25 coats of paint on them that have been there since before I even started teaching so I know they stand the rest of time.

    Toni Thomas
    English & Theatre Teacher & Director
    Ogemaw Heights High School

    Sent from my iPhone

  • 4.  RE: Painting on Canvas

    Posted 09-14-2019 04:41
    I paint on canvas drop cloths all the time. The ones from Home Depot hold up very well and need no Gesso!

    Okc OK

  • 5.  RE: Painting on Canvas

    Posted 09-14-2019 06:58
    I paint on muslin and canvas often, and depending on the weight of the canvas, you shouldn't have to pre-treat the fabric.
    Muslin is much cheaper, but it will require a base treatment. The cheapest way to do that is to make your own. Two parts white Elmer's glue, (I buy the gallon jugs,) and one part water, stir, then paint it on the muslin, with it on the frame already. (Use brushes, not rollers.) It doesn't take very long to dry, but I usually wait a couple of hours, just in case. Then just paint like it's a wall!
    Works like a charm and doesn't cost nearly as much as other options. :-)

    Beth Keith
    Theatre Teacher
    Harrisonville High School
    Grandview MO

  • 6.  RE: Painting on Canvas

    Posted 09-14-2019 09:07

    When we size a new flat or drop, I prefer to treat it with a mixture of water and Argo Laundry starch-- dissolve one pound of laundry starch in one gallon of cold water and then add that to 3 gallons of boiling water.  Most folks use this on translucent drops or flats, but I prefer to do this all the time as the starch can be reactivated by simply spraying the drop or flat from the rear with some hot water.  As my flats often get stretched by hands or heads while they are moved or shifted, I have found that to be a pretty simple solution.  Lynn Pectal's book is great, if you can find it as it is used, but there are a lot of tips in the text and it's fun to just browse through from time to time.

    It sounds like you are planning to fold and store your "covers" over time-- if that is the case, I would not back paint the flats as it will be easier to remove the fold lines for the next production.

    Michael Johnson
    Trinity NC

  • 7.  RE: Painting on Canvas

    Posted 09-14-2019 13:00
    If your banner frames fold into a bag, they might not support the weight of muslin or canvas once it is painted.  If your frames won't support the weight, you might have to get creative.  I have bought lightweight muslin at JoAnn's Fabrics in a wide width--almost 100".  If you temporarily staple that on a frame of 1 X 3s or 1 X 4s, you should be able to paint on it with scenic paint, then cut it off and hang it on your banner frame.

    If you think your frames will hold the weight, you can go with one of the other methods listed, but be aware that muslin shrinks, which may warp your frames, if you are attaching the muslin before priming and painting.

    Good luck!

    C. J. Breland
    Retired Theatre Arts Educator
    Asheville NC