Preparing supports for oil painting

Based on my tutor’s feedback and some further researches I decided to get some practice on preparing supports especially for oil painting. As this takes time I did those besides the exercises and in preparation of future exercises.

Support chosen:
  • paper (regular drawing paper, watercolour paper 300g/sqm and 640 g/sqm)
  • canvas: mixed canvas, cotton, and linen
  • Sizing: hide glue in two dilutions
    – 5g/142g for paper (Winsor &Newton recipe)
    – 1 to 10 for canvas (tutor’s feedback and Wilson, 2015)
Questions that arise:
  • Where to stick the paper on? => I decided for boards I used as drawing boards.
  • How to stretch canvas? => traditional stretchers, hoping that I can take them off for assignment or assessment shipments
  • Do I need to water the support first? => for paper I think it is obvious to make them flat. I tried first on canvas the same than avoided it wetting before stretching (see below)



  • Glueing with tape the wet paper on the board so that it stay flat. My first board were too thin so it warped.
  • Using TESA tape or wet glue tape? TESA is not strong enough to hold the paper under tension. Wet glued tape sticks well to the board ad the paper, but it is hard to remove. Either to cut out the paper or let it soak with water so it can be removed – hard job. The latter one will work only on water proofed paintings e.g. oil.
  • Wetting canvas prior stretching let the canvas wrinkle. The size reduction should come from the hide glue to keep the stretched canvas flat and under tension.
  • Applying hide glue: if it gets too cold too quickly it builds annoying tears on the surface. I have to see how I can sand them down.
  • Canvas sticks to the stretcher: To separate again with a spatula, worked well. Just to be careful with my fingers to avoid punching.


Over time I got more experience and I found it useful to do it before making ‘serious paintings’ on it. I felt even an emotional connection to my supports. I already used my sized paper support for the exercise. It worked very well (besides that some were not flat enough) and the barrier is excellent. Also nice to paint on it.

Linen reduces more in size i.e. it builds up better tension and keeps flat. Cotton second, mixed media less i.e. they need to be stretched a bit tighter prior sizing.



linen, cotton, and paper – sized with hide glue


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