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Canvas sides

Should you Paint the Sides of your Canvas?

Should you Paint the Sides of your Canvas?

Should I paint the sides of my canvas? How do I do it if I want to? Amylee’s here to answer your questions!

Should I Paint the Sides of My Painting or leave it blank?

Today, I decided to write about a sensitive subject, a topic that divides many artists, gallery owners and collectors. Do you wonder what I am talking about?

The edges, the sides of your painting … (drum rollShould you paint them or should you leave them blank? That’s the big question.

If you are observant, you will have noticed that sometimes paintings have their sides painted. Some artists feel the need to paint the side, though others do not. Some gallery owners or buyers prefer that the sides be painted and others will happily leave them blank.

Is there a rule for this?

Personally, I have never heard or read that such a rule exists. It’s more of a habit, or a matter of taste.

Canvas sides

The Effects of a Blank Edge:

  • traditional, “old fashioned” method
  • looks genuinely handmade from a studio
  • adds separation between the wall and canvas
  • can appear that the work is waiting for a frame
  • Offers the possibility for the buyer, or the gallery owner to frame the piece of art according to their taste.

GOOD TO KNOW: In the United Kingdom and United States, galleries tend to frame canvases. It is better to stay focused on the creation and not waste time on the edges if you exhibit there.

Canvas edges

The Effects of a Painted Edge:

  • modern method
  • gives a finished side, neater, more pleasant to look at
  • avoids the need for framing
  • hides fingerprints or smudges that may appear during the creative process
  • protects the fabric and makes cleaning easier
  • brings a 3D effect to the composition

GOOD TO KNOW: A sharp, white edge is generally better, especially if the gallery has white walls.

Canvas edges

The Disadvantages of a Painted Edge

  • One might think that the painting was originally stretched on a bigger frame
  • One might think that the image continues on the back of the canvas
  • The composition sometimes appears distorted when it continues onto the sides

GOOD TO KNOW: Avoid painting edges with tacks on the sides. Once covered, the nails are very difficult to remove if you need to change the canvas frame. The canvas can tear around overpainted nails.

Canvas edges

8 Suggestions if you are Painting the Edges of your Canvas

  • PURE WHITE – Apply paint for a clean, neat look.
  • ALL OVER – Paint an extension of the composition.
  • DESIGN – Create a new design or use strips of decopatch paper.
  • POURING – Pour the paint over the edges as part ofthe composition.
  • NEUTRAL – Apply one colour (black, grey, brown, or a dominant shade).
  • LUXURY – Apply a metallic paint (gold or silver).
  • ARTY – Use all the colours of your palette.
  • PROTECTION – Use an adhesive cloth fabric tape (available in black, white, and grey).
  • SHOW OFF – fit a molding frame or floating frame.

GOOD TO KNOW: If you have Staples or tacks on the edge of the painting, I advise you to add a frame, especially if you exhibit in art fairs abroad.

What materials should I use?

Some suggestions:

Canvas edges

Most of these products are currently available at GreatArt Online or in their art supply shop in London Shoreditch..

GOOD TO KNOW: Some artists do not add colour to the edge but just apply 1 or 2 layers of Gesso to prevent dust from getting into the fabric of the canvas. The top edge, the horizontal one, picks up more dust than the other sides.

Many Artists, Many Opinions:

Tastes and colours are not chosen according to a specific criteria. It is therefore pointless for me to try to convince anyone which option is the right one when it comes to covering or not covering the sides of a painting. No way is the true ‘right way.’

I personally feel a sense of accomplishment when I paint the sides of mine. The most important thing is personal taste!

Information for this article was provided by professional fine artist, Amylee Paris. You can visit her colourful portfolio or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

GREAT TO KNOW – Find all Amylee’s posts published in GreatArt online Magazine by clicking here!

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We offer an extensive range of stretched canvas and display products for exhibition, all the art supplies required to create your own bespoke canvases, as well as custom framing and mounting services from GreatArt Store. You’ll also find hundreds of articles and tutorials to browse in the online magazine.

Louise from GreatArt

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