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Painting the sides of canvases


(Tom Mather) #1

I participated in a local art class soon after retiring to help kick-start myself for oil painting again. I had painted quite a lot over a 10-15 year period but not very much the last five years of working due to my demanding schedule. Anyway, I had painted the sides of a canvas I was working on in class, mainly because it it was a large painting and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend what it would cost to have it framed. During a crit session, the instructor went off on quite a tanget about my painting the sides of the canvas, maintaining that I was altering the two-dimensionality of the painting, turning it into more a sculpture. It seemed to bother him quite a bit but it seemed like no big deal to me. After all, the art supply stores sell a lot of “gallery wrap” canvases, which I thought you were supposed to paint on the sides. What do others think about this issue?


(Sunny Avocado) #2

I always paint mine, deep canvas or traditional. It gives buyers option to frame or not. Somtimes I feel that it would look better on a two dimensional plane and in those cases I paint the sides a completely different color like gray, white, black instead of painting the sides the background colors of the painting.


(Jeanie Bates) #3

I was told, in art school, not to paint the sides of the canvas as a continuation of the picture unless you’re painting abstract paintings and you want the eye to follow off the picture plane. I paint the sides of my 1 1/2" gallery wrapped canvas, black or brown. I paint landscapes.


(Andrea Jeris) #4

While I mostly paint on panels now when I do paint on canvas I do paint the sides (to hang without framing or with a floating frame). I used to paint them realistically but now I continue the color on the sides in a blurry technique.


(Elizabeth Elgin) #5

When an “expert” has such a strong opinion I run. I paint the sides of canvases and have been told some galleries won’t accept that (but they want them framed); shows I have entered require frames OR if not framed, paint the sides of canvases. It seems painting the sides just finishes it off and people can hang as it is or get it framed as they choose. I paint the sides a dark color to complement the painting - not black but a dark made of blue and burnt umber which is not as cold as black. Sometimes if it suits I’ll paint it brown with faint suggestion of wood graining.


(Patricia Ann Rizzo) #6

Just like the painting itself, the sides should be up to the artist. I really look down on so-called “experts” who make up rules like this. Its what pleases YOU as the artist that counts…unless you’re simply painting for assembly line sales.


(David Crowell) #7

Whose art is it anyway? I have seen plenty of contemporary paintings with the sides of the canvas painted. If a collector doesn’t want to display it like that they have to option of framing it. I believe as the artist you should make the art you want to make.


(Christine Derrick) #8

I have painted the canvas sides ever since I saw others doing it online many years back. I just continue a semblance of the image or main colours around the edges. To be honest I now prefer to see box canvases with painted sides…some people leave them white, but the “cut-off” edge between the main image and the sides really has to be neat, clean and sharp…no fingerprints or stray splodges or wavy lines. I guess this could easily be achieved with masking-tape. Then again (heh heh) some folk might like the odd splodge or two…


(Judith Frost) #9

What really matters is what you want the canvas to look like. I have never heard of an instructor criticizing the sides of a painting. My feeling is that the sides painted makes the painting more complete. My suggestion: forget him!


(Rita Meyerhoff) #10

I agree. I always paint the sides of my paintings black unless it is a canvas that is over 2-3" and is an abstract.


(Randal Huiskens) #11

Art is a business… instructors have the luxury of not having to sell their paintings to make a living. Whether they like it or not, a painting is a commodity that is bought and sold, whether it is sold for hundreds or thousands… painting the sides finishes the work and makes it presentable. I see people selling paintings with unpainted sides and it just looks amateurish.


(Robb Jones) #12

I totally agree that art is a business and the work should be in a finished condition. Not painting the sides is amateurish in my opinion.


(Valerie Smith) #13

I don’t paint the sides of my canvas unless I am selling the original.


(Jacinthe Rivard) #14

I think your art teacher should start thinking outside the box. You should never give an artist boundaries… and the edge of a canvas is NOT a boundary. I say, do what you want and paint those sides red is you want… hummmm red would be nice.


(Martin Azari) #15

In my experience the type of painting dictates what is most ideal. It seems when you paint something a bit more realist or traditional, painting the sides, especially black, makes it pop as more modern. Modern art in general i think looks better with the sides painted , particularly with the thicker gallery canvas stretcher. I would personally never paint the sides of a traditional, realist painting, then again what i consider traditional is different than someone else. The other issue is a lot of commercial stretchers dont have a hard edge, so when you go to paint the sides, its a rounded corner that runs into the canvas, and often times when i have tried doing it i have to make corrections on the front of the painting, because i got some black on the face of the painting. At least these are my concerns with it and why I don’t do it.