Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Packing Stretched Canvases for Sending

I thought it would be helpful to consider how to pack artwork that is painted onto a stretched canvas.

Holiday times are a good opportunity to look at this as chocolate boxes, especially the large flat ones are very handy packing materials. So if you receive any boxes of chocolates (particularly the ones with just one or two layers of chocolates as they tend to be a good size) you may want to save it for future packing material.


The way I package stretched canvases uses an appropriate size of box, lots of bubble wrap, a couple of sheets of cardboard with some extra cardboard to reinforce the edges and corners. Also some paper to wrap the box and parcel tape to keep it all secure.

My Method

I start by putting a couple of layers of bubble wrap in the gap at the rear of the stretched canvas. This will fill up the void at the back of the canvas. Then wrap the canvas in bubble wrap. It helps to both protect the painting and keeps any dampness away from the artwork too.

Next put a sheet of cardboard to the front and back of the stretched canvas. Cut these an inch or two larger than the size of the painting including the bubble wrap.

Roll up some lengths of bubble wrap strips to pack the edges around the canvas. Place in the gap between the 2 cardboard layers. Pack the bubble wrap strips out to approximately the edge of the cardboard layers. This will help to protect the edges.

Cut spacers of cardboard

Cut some lengths of cardboard wide enough for the gap between the two layers of cardboard (on the front and back of the canvas). Put these between the two layers. Be sure that the corners are well protected and put the lengths of cardboard the whole way around the artwork. Use the parcel tape or any wide tape to hold this in place.

If there is room add another layer of bubble wrap around all of this packaging, and then place it into the box.

If the box is not deep enough (the bubble wrap will make it quite a bit larger all around) you can add some more lengths of cardboard as a spacer between the top and bottom of the box.

Pack any spaces with more bubble wrap and tape the top and bottom of the box together. (The corners are the area most likely to get damaged. Be sure to check that they are well packed.)

To finish, wrap with paper and tape to secure.

I probably over-pack stretched canvases, but I‘d rather use too much packaging and have the artwork arrive in good condition.

Damaged stretched canvas?

If you are unlucky and the painting is damaged you may be able to repair it.

If the canvas and painting are intact it is possible to get some new stretchers and (having removed the canvas from the original damaged stretchers) re-stretch the canvas over them. However if the canvas or paint is damaged you will probably need to decide if it is worth the trouble of trying to get it repaired.

Should the paint be damaged you may find that you can repaint it successfully. However if the canvas is torn I wouldn’t bother trying to repair it. Perhaps you could cut it down to a good section and re-stretch it as a smaller picture.

Sending a few canvases?

If you have a few canvases to send and they are all about the same size you can buy boxes from sellers on eBay. There are some sellers on eBay that will sell boxes suitable for sending pictures. If you have a few to send this could be a good option for you.

But if you only have one picture to send it is probably easier to use the method described above.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How to Send an Artwork Gift

With Christmas fast approaching you may be thinking about making a personalised gift and sending it. If you decide to send some artwork you will need to package it fairly well so that it will arrive in good condition. This is even more important for a present.

If the artwork is painted onto paper or canvas panel it will be the more suitable for sending. Stretched canvases need a lot more packaging.

However if you are sending paper, canvas panel or even a picture with a mount the easiest way is to use a board backed envelope.

Board Backed Envelopes

These come in a range of sizes. My local newspaper shop sells them singly so I can buy just one.

Ideally you want the size of the envelope to be about one inch longer and one inch wider than your artwork. If it is too large the picture tends to move about too much and can be damaged.

A board backed envelope can be cut down to size and the cut edges sealed with tape, parcel tape works well for this.

There are different qualities of board backed envelopes. If the one you buy seems too thin and flexes a lot you can strength it with another piece of thin card. I find that a cereal box can be a good size and thickness for this.

Cut the cereal box to the size of the envelope and slide it in to make sure it fits well.

It is a good idea to put the picture into a plastic bag to keep it dry – just in case!

Put a piece of spare paper, then the picture (in its plastic bag), and then another piece of card in a stack. Next slide this stack into the envelope with the good side of the picture facing the board part of the envelope.


Place the artwork so that it is facing the board of the envelope, so the extra piece of card to the back of the picture. This ensures that if the rear of the envelope is written on it will not mark the painting.

No board backed envelope?

If you cannot get a board backed envelope you can use a large envelope and make up a sandwich of packing to protect your artwork.

In this case you need to have two pieces of strong card both slightly larger than the picture. The cardboard needs to be about one inch longer and one inch wider than the picture.

Place your artwork into a plastic bag to keep it dry and then sandwich the picture between the cardboard layers. Tape the two cardboard layers together to keep the artwork flat.

This can be placed into a normal large envelope for sending.


Check that the cardboard is both strong and not too heavy. If it is heavy it will really increase the price of sending the packet.

Mark the outside of the envelope as “Fragile Please Do Not Bend” in large letters, on the front and on the back too.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Acrylic Painting, How to buy the Right Equipment for using with Acrylic Paints [Kindle Edition]

I've just added this new report that you may be interested in if you have a Kindle.

It is a collection of articles and reports I have written. It covers acrylic paints, suitable brushes to use with acrylic paints, the best painting surfaces, acrylic mediums, and colour mixing tips too.

Here's the link if you want to check it out


You may need to copy and paste the link into your browser, however there is also a link on the right hand side of this page too.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Tips on Painting from a Photograph – Part 3

In this last part I wanted to mention a few points that are important if you are painting the picture for someone else.

If you are given a photo and asked to paint it then be sure to check what the other person expects.


1. Perhaps they really want a painting of the photo just as it is, in which case you will have to try and keep the picture fairly true to the photo.

2. They may say that the photo is just a starting point but they want the final piece to be recognisable as the photo. In this case you have a bit more flexibility with the composition and colour of the painting.

3. Or they may say that they are happy for you to paint your version of the photo. This will give you the most freedom with the choices you make.

It is always best to discuss what they expect the final painting to look like. This will avoid disappointment for you both!

An Example

I painted a pet portrait from a very small photo (the head in the photo was about half an inch by half an inch) and felt that the final painting was a good likeness. Although the client was happy with the painting she said that it was her partner’s dog and she had never seen it when it was younger. The dog was going grey and this was not apparent due to the size of the photo.

For myself - I prefer to remember pets in their prime, looking healthy and alert. But I should have discussed the painting more than I had. Maybe a painting of the dog looking older would have been more appreciated by the owner.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tips on Painting from a Photograph – Part 2

Here is Part 2 of Tips on Painting from a Photograph. It looks at the composition of your final painting and considers some of the options you have.

You don't need to paint a picture to exactly match the photograph. In Part 1 we talked about choosing just a section of the original photo and not the whole of it. The composition of the final painting is the main subject of this article.

Although you're using the photo for your inspiration it's still necessary to consider the composition of the final painting.

Here are a few points to think about.

What is the focal point?
Where is it placed? (It is better to avoid putting it in the centre.)
You can move it to a better area if you want.

Are there objects to lead the eye into the painting?
These could be paths, branches, or shapes to lead the eye in.

What about the colours? You could change a landscape to a different time of day or a different time of year?
Instead of mid-day you could have a sunset, instead of the bare branches of winter you could have green leaves or even autumnal leaves.

Consider the contrast between the tones used in the different areas too.
Again you do not need to follow those in the photo.
Perhaps you want to highlight a contrast between some light and dark areas of the picture.

You can use the photo as a starting point for your painting.
But if the final painting is for someone else they may want and expect it to look like the photo.

However you still have the option to change things to improve the composition of the final picture. For example missing out a power line in a landscape or changing the background in a portrait.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tips on Painting from a Photograph – Part 1

Photographs are very handy reference materials. When you decide to paint a picture you can use a photo and you don't need to worry about the weather or time of day. I don't like to paint when it is raining and obviously night time painting sessions can be a challenge. ;-)

However when you have photos to use you can paint whenever the mood takes you.

There are really two main ways to use photos.

1. Using just one photo and painting your version of the scene
2. Using several photos and choosing sections from them to compose a different scene altogether

One main photo

When you are using one main photo for the painting there are a few things you may want to consider.

You don't need to use all of the things from the photo. A photographer has no choice when he takes a picture, but you don't have this problem.

If your photo has a lot of detail you may choose to just use a section of the photo for the painting. You don't have to use the entire photo – just use your artistic licence and select a part of the scene to use.

Often less is more in a painting. If the foreground is complicated and detailed you might want to keep rest of the painting simple.

Simplify for impact.

Putting the majority of the detail in the foreground will help to give depth to your final piece. The further away a thing is the less detail you can see, so simplify the middle and distant areas in your painting to help give it depth.

Tips on Painting from a Photograph – Part 2 will discuss how the composition of the painting can be improved.