Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mounting Paper onto Canvas

Often artists will create a drawing or sketch on paper, and then want to adhere it to a stretched canvas to create a stronger support, or continue adding subsequent layers of paint. Here below is a method I learned from painter/instructor David True, who taught a workshop I attended years ago at Anderson Ranch.

Start with a canvas that is stretched and primed with gesso so it isn't too absorbent. It should be the same size as the paper drawing, and the paper drawing should have extra border room so about 1/2" of its edges all around can be chopped off later. Apply a new layer of gesso (not diluted with water) onto the canvas. While the gesso is still wet place the paper over it. Put a piece of tissue or clean sheet of paper over the drawing so you can smooth it out without smearing the drawing. Using your hands smooth the paper into the wet gesso starting from the center and moving outwards towards the edges. The paper will stretch as it gets wet from the gesso, and will move over the edges, so you end up losing about 1/2" of the drawing along the borders. When it is all smooth, let it dry. After it's dry you can easily trim the excess paper by running a single edge blade along the outside edges. This technique gives a very clean edge so you can't tell the paper has been glued.

Extra Tips: place masonite or something under the canvas to prop it up and give it some stability so that when you rub the paper to smooth it out it won’t sink down in the center with the canvas. Another tip: the most important thing is that the gesso is still wet everywhere when you put the paper drawing over it. If the gesso dries in spots you will get wrinkles there. When you are working with a large size, or in a dry or hot climate, and you have difficulty doing this technique keeping the gesso wet, you can first apply a gloss medium or gel to the primed canvas. When the gloss layer dries, the surface is less absorbent, and then when the gesso is applied it will stay wet longer.



Anonymous janet said...

I assume that this will work for applying photos as well? Although my photos will not cover the complete canvas. I have had trouble with I will try the gel medium application, and then the gesso.
I place a couple of layers (depending on stretcher depth) of rigid insulation behind the canvas when adding photos or whatever to the painting for a support.

January 27, 2011 at 6:21 AM  
Blogger Nancy Reyner said...

Dear Janet,
For gluing heavier papers such as photographs, use Soft Gel Gloss, not gesso. The gesso is too thin for that, and if it seeps out it may get on the photograph and look like white-out. Also, for heavier gluing jobs like this, after placing the photo over the wet gel, immediately place some plastic wrap on top, then put the sheet of scrap paper on top. Then rub it smoothly and put some heavy books or other weights on top for 15 minutes or more. The plastic wrap keeps any gel that might seep out from gluing the books or weights onto the piece.

January 27, 2011 at 7:44 AM  
Anonymous Janet said...

I'm glad I caught your reply in time! Thanks for the advice.

January 27, 2011 at 3:52 PM  
Blogger Margaret Ryall said...

I've never tried adhering paper with gesso. I'll have to experiment. I'm enjoying reading your new book Nancy. It's an excellent resource which is driving me in several directions.

January 29, 2011 at 3:32 PM  
Anonymous canvas wall art said...

Modern canvas is usually made of cotton or linen, although historically it was made from hemp. It differs from other heavy cotton fabrics, such as denim, in being plain weave rather than twill weave.

March 4, 2012 at 3:29 PM  
Blogger 1960 said...

hi, i'm hoping to mount large oil paintings from paper. 200x150 the paper is a special paper by fabriani for oil
do you think i apply this technique?
many thx

September 14, 2012 at 1:28 AM  
Blogger Nancy Reyner said...

Yes, you can apply this technique to larger paintings on canvas. You might want to substitute the gesso in this technique to something more slower drying and thicker, like a gloss gel.

September 17, 2012 at 7:46 AM  
Blogger Deidre said...

I am wanting to mount a newspaper clipping using this technique, do I need to apply anything over the newspaper once its dried in order to seal\preserve it?

December 8, 2013 at 3:14 AM  
Blogger Deidre said...

Is this technique appropriate to use to mount newspaper clippings? If so, do I need to apply anything to seal or preserve it once it dries? I don't want it to flake or come off later.

December 8, 2013 at 3:19 AM  
Blogger Nancy Reyner said...

The technique I wrote about uses gesso as the "glue" or way to adhere paper to canvas. Gesso is opaque and will cover whatever is underneath. Using it to glue something onto raw or primed gesso is fine. If you are going to glue a newspaper clipping onto raw or primed canvas then yes you can use this technique. If however, you want to glue the newspaper clipping over a canvas that already has some images painted on it or other collaged items that you want visible then use substitute an acrylic gloss gel for the gesso in the technique, and you can opt to only apply the gel in the area you will be glueing the newspaper article. Once the glued newspaper is dry, then yes, you should cover it with something to help preserve it. Newspaper ink is not permanent so you can cover it with a UV gel, or if this will be the last and final layer on your painting you can use a UV varnish, such as Golden's Archival Varnish Gloss in spray (or its brush apply version called MSA Varnish Gloss), or Golden's Polymer Gloss Varnish (easier to use as it is non-toxic) and can be brush applied. Hope this answers your question.

December 8, 2013 at 8:42 AM  
Blogger Sand Ra said...

In a pinch I used bookbinding glue .. . will that not work?

April 16, 2015 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger Nancy Reyner said...

Sand Ra,
I don't know. I've never used bookbinding glue before. If it works for you - then great! If you want to know if it will last over time without yellowing or creating any bad effects, I recommend calling the technical department at the company that makes the glue you are using.

April 16, 2015 at 1:49 PM  
Blogger Kate Spencer said...

If I put the paper on first and then draw on it will it still be okay? As I don't want to risk damaging the drawing by doing this technique when I don't really know what I'm doing! And the canvas is just a store bought one pre-primed... Will this work too?

August 12, 2015 at 8:55 AM  
Blogger Kate Spencer said...

Hi, will it still be okay if I draw on the paper after I adhere it to the canvas? After its dried obviously. As I don't want to risk damaging the drawing trying to do this technique with no experience! Thanks

August 12, 2015 at 8:57 AM  
Blogger Nancy Reyner said...

Hi Kate,
Yes, that's fine - after you glue paper onto another surface such as canvas, the paper should still be a great surface to work on.

August 12, 2015 at 10:30 AM  

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