Canvas Stretching Tools: C. S. Osborne & Co. Tack Hammer, Charvin Copper Nails and Paris Copper Tacks
I got some new tools today that I'm pretty excited about. The first is a beautiful tack/upholsterer's hammer made by C. S. Osborne & Co. I bought this hammer from Lee Valley and it was shipped really quickly and came in perfect condition. I previously had been using a lesser quality tack hammer, but this new one is made in USA and is really nice.
I also bought some new copper tacks and nails from Jerry's Artarama, which is a fantastic store and they have a great variety of materials. Below, you can see some images of the Charvin copper nails. These nails are 7/16" or 11mm in length. They have a nice point to them and they are made in France. They're more expensive, but boy are they nice. They're magnetic so you can use them with a magnetic tack hammer (see last photo in gallery below). These nails have a squared-off point to them which gives them a hand-wrought appearance .
The next thing I got were these Paris Canvas copper tacks. These are longer (5/8") and have a cylindrical point. They're less expensive, but are sadly made in China. They have a nice point to them though and they're magnetic as well, so I'm happy to use them.
I'm all about quality in my materials and I recommend all these tools for those of you who are looking to stretch your own canvas. To learn to stretch your own canvas check out my blog post:
Stretching a Canvas Step-By-Step!
It feels like spring is here today. I got outside and stretched a new canvas for a commission and I ordered some new canvas nails to test out. I ordered two different types: Charvin copper nails and Paris Canvas Copper Tacks. I'm not sure which kind I'll like better so I'm going to try them both. They're both slightly different lengths also which is a good thing.
I ordered these from Jerry's Artarama because Dick Blick doesn't carry them. I'm becoming more and more frustrated with Blick's selection of products and their lack of variety. They seem to be trending more and more away from professional fine art materials and everything now seems to be "Blick Brand" products, but I digress.
I'll write a review of these copper nails as soon as they arrive and I test them out. I was previously using cut tacks from the hardware store, but they're not very well forged and usually have a rather dull point to them, which is frustrating. It's also better to use copper since it protects against corrosion.
I'm going to go back out and enjoy the weather. Have a great week!
As a painter who seeks the best materials, I have now found the best quality oil ground linen canvas. When I first learned about oil grounds, I was immediately fascinated with the material. There's no comparison between the acrylic "gesso" grounds and the surface of an oil ground. But even with oil grounds, I have found a startling difference between titanium white grounds and lead white grounds. For me, titanium grounds have a high absorbency that catches the paint and sucks it in, while lead has a buttery type of surface that allows the paint to glide. I've tried many varieties of commercially prepared oil ground, but was always disappointed by not being able to order lead and a custom tone of gray (which I prefer).
I am very familiar with preparing my own grounds and my previous practice was to prepare my own lead primed grounds. I'm glad I know how to prepare my own grounds, but this process is time consuming, very messy and difficult to get right all the time. Nevertheless, I am an artist that believes in the importance of materials. I believe the same philosophy applies to chefs: no matter how good of a chef you are, you can't make a good meal out of bad ingredients.
So I reached out to Mr. Angel De La Cruz via email to inquire about getting a lead primed, gray toned, oil ground. Angel wrote back to me very promptly and said he actually had a roll in stock that matched my specifications. I was very excited, but a little nervous. Would the gray be the right value? I didn't want something too dark or too light. Long story short, the canvas is absolutely perfect. The tone of gray is spot on, not too dark or too light. The linen is double primed also which creates a smooth surface, but still has the tooth of the fabric-- perfect for portrait work. I've included some photos below, but it's difficult to capture the quality of this canvas in photos. I know the canvas is also very well sized because none of the oil ground has seeped through to the back of the canvas. For anyone who doesn't know about oil grounds: you need to have a size (a glue) to act as a barrier so that the oil ground won't reach the linen or canvas because that can cause degradation over time.
It's very important to keep these traditional artistic practices alive which is why I only want to support companies that make great quality materials. Angel and Ben are wonderful to do business with and I'm so happy that I found them. I want to thank companies like A E Art Canvas Priming, Natural Pigments and Rosemary and Co for keeping these traditions alive.
The roll that I ordered is: #13 Linen, 57"X 6 Yds, DP Gray Lead. I don't want to list the price in case their prices change, but I can tell you that it was very reasonable considering what most other companies charge for oil grounds. I don't think that they have a website (which is cooler in my book) but you can contact Angel and his son, Ben, at the address and email below:
A E Art Canvas Priming
605 East 132nd Street
Bronx NY 10454
Just started a new self portrait, using a canvas that I recently made with Natural Pigments lead oil ground. The beginning is always rough and I'm not going for any detail at this stage. I think of the beginning like the understructure of the painting. Portraits have a lot going on, but they need to progress gradually. It's good to keep the beginning malleable instead of committing to some exact detail such as a highlight. The painting gets more delicate as more modeling is added so it's not good to jump to details right away. The beginning has some slight indications of general details, but nothing concrete in case I have to adjust some proportions.
As I said, I'm using a lead oil ground; lead oil grounds are very different from titanium oil grounds. Lead has a really nice level of absorption that also repels a good amount of the paint laid on top. I've noticed that titanium white grounds absorb a lot of the paint and it feels like you have to pile on the paint just to get any level of impasto. If you're a painter that likes thick paint applications then I encourage you to use a lead oil ground.
I'm going slower with this painting and with more of my old intuitive approach. I still like alla prima painting, but I can't get the level of detail and modulation of tone with pure alla prima. I already paint fast and I feel the need to slow myself down and let it dry when necessary in order to build up the detail. I'm excited to work on this more and will post more as it progresses.