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Large unstretched southwest inspired orange red turquoise art Art

Arizona Abstract Art by Coty Schwabe

Hey there. My name’s Coty.

If you’ve been reading my blog or seen any of my videos, you probably already have an idea of who I am.

The reason I’m making this post today is simply to give you a little bit of my background both as an abstract artist and an Arizona resident.

I’ve lived here in AZ all my life. I was born in Phoenix, raised mostly in Peoria, and have no plans on leaving. Yes, I know it’s pretty darn hot here much of the year, but I also don’t have to worry about tornadoes, earthquakes, blizzards, or tsunamis.

I like the desert. I really do.

Although I didn’t always.

When I was younger I thought it was cool that it snowed other places, and thought the beach would be a cool place to live as well.

I also thought that the desert was pretty boring. Like oh wow, rocks and cacti. Ex-ci-ting.

Not.

But as I got older, I came to respect this state.

If you went north an hour or two, you had colder climates. 6 hours in just about any direction would get you to either the California coast, glitzy and bright Las Vegas or the wonderfully bland New Mexico.

We were kind of in the nucleus of it all, and I only had to go a quarter of a day out of my way. Not bad.

A few years ago, I had a job as an installer for a satellite television company.

I drove all over the metropolitan Phoenix area. From Whitman and Sun City on the west side, all the way to the stretches of Paradise Valley and even Tonto National Forest.

Now, this may all seem unrelated and not that exciting, but the reason I bring this up is because it gave me a chance to see many different faces of this great state in which I live.

I got to drive past mountains, both great and small. I’ve been to remote stretches of desert where only shrubs and cacti bloom. I’ve seen the spectacle that is the Grand Canyon, and the intricate parts of our state capital Phoenix (which is overpopulated by the way).

But probably one of my favorite things is our sunsets.

If you look at my available works (hint, hint), you’ll see that some of the names of my abstract art pieces involve “sunsets.” Like Chasing Sunsets and Arizona Sunset.

Arizona Sunset photo my daughter took
Arizona Sunset photo my daughter took

It’s not that I just name them so, I really am inspired by the breath-taking beauty of a state that I thought was once boring as a child.

Many of the colors and combinations I use are inspired by the colors that are naturally found here. I love the bright oranges of old Native American drawing and the citrus that used to grow in abundance here (which makes me sad because orange trees are slowly getting cut down or dying).

I love turquoise because of the amount of that we have here and fine jewelry that is made with it. You can find lots of it in Sedona and Prescott.

I admire crimson and dark purple and dusty pink because of the way they fill the sky at the end of the day. These sunsets really do inspire me.

I’ve started getting into copper and bronze more, based on the old minerals that used to be mined in abundance here. They remind me of the mountains themselves and older mining towns like Jerome.

When I became an abstract artist, I thought very little of colors. I simply put colors together and hoped they’d look good.

But as I started explanding my color palette, and drawing inspiration from the world around, I found myself using more and more southwest and Arizona reminiscent colors. Even more so today than a year ago.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’ve come to respect my Arizona abstract art. It’s a part of who I am as an artist and a person.

If I hadn’t lived here all my life, if I hadn’t had the opportunities to drive all over the state and visit remote areas and populated cities and everything in between, I may never have developed the reverence I now have for AZ.

Sorry for the long post, and thanks for reading.

All the best,

Coty Schwabe

What are some of the Biggest Challenges Artists Face Art

What are the Biggest Challenges Artists Face?

So there are number of challenges I face as an artist, and I can only assume that other people deal with many of the same things I do. Obviously I can’t speak for anyone else, but hopefully these things will resonate.

Obscurity.

This is probably the biggest. When you’re just starting out (at anything), you’re going to be a nobody. This really sucks but it’s true.

I guess when I became an artist, I just expected that people would start buying my paintings left and right, that galleries would reach out to me to represent me, and museums would want to house my art.

Not so.

In fact, very few of the people I know in real life have actually bought my paintings. And even fewer “strangers” have bought from me. I have yet – after two years of painting – to be contacted by a legit museum or gallery to be represented.

You really have to work to make a name for yourself. You have to do shows, or promote yourself online, or go to galleries yourself to get into them.

Saturation.

As if promoting yourself wasn’t enough work – outside doing what you actually love, creating – you also have to deal with saturation. No matter what type of art you create, this challenge of having to compete with other artists is only going to get worse.

Now, it’s not that you’re competing with them per se, but when it comes down to selling your art or getting it into museums/galleries, you’re just another number in a long list of numbers.

I hate to break it to you, but… There’s a lot of similar work from similar people. Your work is probably not as unique or ground-breaking as you think.

And because of this, because there are dozens (if not hundreds) of people creating similar things, you have to compete with them in the marketplace to make sales or get your art seen.

It’s a sad and unfortunate truth.

Now, you may have the ONE THING that really separates you apart from everyone else, but generally I find that thing that tends to separate people isn’t the technique or “uniquity” of the work – it’s the amount of effort they put in: into the work, into the technique, into the promotion.

This tends to be the deciding factor of who wins in the marketplace.

Criticism.

Since everyone can pretty much say whatever they want these days (both online and off), it’s HIGHLY LIKELY that someone, somewhere, at some time WILL INDEED criticize your work negatively. It’s gonna happen.

And guess what?

That’s okay.

It’s happened to me. Even my own grandmother thinks my abstract paintings could have been made by my kids. True story.

But I’ve also had people online say it was garbage or childish or blah blah blah.

But who cares?

I’m not making my art for them. I’m making it for me. And for the people who DO like it. (And are willing to buy it)

Don’t worry about the negative comments towards your stuff. It really doesn’t matter as long as you do what you love.

Insecurity.

This will probably never go away. And it’s kind of a good thing.

For me, I ALWAYS question whether my work is good enough to sell or promote.

And if I don’t think so, I’ll give it away.

But worrying about whether EVERY PIECE is good enough of not will drive you to madness.

Yeah, sometimes you feel that way, but you can’t let that feeling override your desire to create.

Pieces have flaws. It happens.

You just gotta accept that nothing in life is perfect.

Now, I’m not advocating that you put out junk, but on the flip side, don’t expect every piece to have no flaws or imperfections. Make as good a piece as you can, put it out in the world, and let the market decide.

Charging for money.

Many artists deal with the issue of charging for their pieces. They’ll either undercut their prices or just give their artwork away all the time.

How can you stay afloat if you just give it away?

I’m not against giving away select pieces for select reasons, – like giveaways, free promotion, or charities – but just giving it away all the time? No.

If you get into this practice, you’ll be harming not only your wallet, but your self-esteem.

Look at it this way: If you don’t respect your art enough to charge for it, how can you expect someone else to respect it enough to buy it?

And people rarely respect things they got free. It’s just facts.

You need to set a price that’s comfortable for you, then raise it over time. The more pieces you sell or the more shows you do or the longer you’ve been around are all valid reasons to raise your prices.

And as you do so, your self-respect goes up. I tell you what – when I sold a thousand dollars’ worth of paintings to the same person, it only made me want to paint more.

Finding your style.

Here was MY biggest kryptonite as an artist. I actually dealt with this for almost two years, and it wasn’t until recently that I found my true style (which is scraped abstract paintings BTW). I tried a number of styles and replicated other artists to kind of find my “thing.”

I think that copying artists is okay for learning, but you must also find your differentiating trait at some point.

All the while, it frustrated me to no end that I saw all these other artists, succeeding much faster than me in shorter time. Gallery offers, sales left and right, getting into magazines – all within a year or two of starting. Some of us are not so #blessed. (lol)

What I didn’t realize at the time was their consistency was the key to their success.

Once I learned to pick one style and follow it over and over again, it only got easier to create, and my desire to master the technique drove me to paint more, not less.

I think that many people are afraid of being pigeonholed into one “style,” but for me, what that really meant, was that I lacked the desire and focus to commit to that one thing. Now that I have something to master, it gives my work meaning and purpose – aside from sales.

I’m sure there are other challenges that artists face, but this was the most pressing I could think of.

I wish you all the best in everything.

Coty Schwabe

Arizona Abstract Art Challenges Art

Arizona Abstract Art Challenges and Obstacles

I love living in Arizona. Really I do. Yes – I get it – it’s like a billion degrees living here during the summer, but honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I grew up here in Peoria much of my life (I’ve lived in other towns including Glendale, Whitman, and Phoenix) but regardless – having lived here much of my life, I have no inclination to move.

As you can imagine, this can make some interesting challenges being an artist here. Creating Arizona based abstract art means I have to deal with a number of elements when creating it.

I’d like to share them here for two reasons:

  1. For my fellow beginning artists who want to make art here and things to think about
  2. To give you a glimpse of “behind the scenes” for my process, so to speak.

I’ll break this down into a few chunks:

  1. Deciding Where to Paint
  2. Indoor Challenges and Advantages
  3. Outside Challenges and Advantages

Deciding to Where to Paint

This isn’t just an Arizona thing – this is an every artist thing. I totally get that. But here I’ll discuss a few things that have to be taken into consideration when deciding where to paint your abstract art (or maybe it’s not abstract, applies either way).

One thing you have to consider is the size of your paintings. I tend to create medium to extra-large paintings. My definitions of these sizes are medium being 2’ on any side, large being 4’ or more on any side, and large as 6’ or more on any side. These aren’t hard and fast rules, just what I use.

Obviously if you’re doing small and medium paintings, you won’t need much space. Maybe a table or single easel will do. Just think Bob Ross. He made small paintings on the same easel over and over again.

If you’re making something above medium, than you might want to consider a longer kitchen table, counter top, or even the ground if need be. If you create your paintings vertically, a common thing to do is to mount a few screws to the wall and hang the painting on that while you paint it.

Temperature is another factor. Aside from temperature, which we’ll cover in a second, you also have to consider fluctuation. This is definitely a fun challenge to deal with.

If you paint inside, it’s not as big a deal, since you can control the temperature (for the most part). If you paint in your garage, or a shed out back, you’re going to have a tougher time with controlling how fast your paint dries, so keep that mind.

Or worse yet, you can be like me – and paint outside – which has even more obstacles. I’ll come back to that.

One final thing to think about is not only the painting or art itself, but also the supplies you need to create that art.

Whether you create abstract art or sculptures or anything else, it’s important that you be cognizant of the things needed to create that piece. Materials, tool, cleaning supplies – all this stuff takes up space, and you don’t want to leave it in places where you – or your piece – can get hurt.

Alright, so now that we covered some of the components, let’s cover the pros and cons of painting indoors.

Should you Paint Abstract Art Indoors?

Pros

  • Better climate control
  • Cleaner
  • Quieter

Cons

  • Less space
  • Less fresh Air
  • Some feelings of Claustrophobia

I’ll cut to the chase here:

Painting inside is ideal. If you have a studio or at least an “art room” in your house where you can go to be creative, this really is the best option.

I’ve already mentioned better climate control earlier, so I won’t mention it again.

But inside spaces tend to be a lot cleaner. You don’t have to deal with as much dust, dirt, or smog. Or run the risk of the wind destroying your piece. This has happened to me, unfortunately

It also tends to be a lot quieter inside. You’re not dealing with blaring horns, loud music, people talking, alarms going off, etc.

Now, for some, this is inspirational. If that’s the case, by all means – crack the windows, open the door, and stand outside. Whatever. But not everyone is like that.

On the other hand, there are some very real downsides to painting inside.

First off all, it’s easy to run out of room. A house or even your studio, can run out of room real quick. Especially if you store your finished pieces where you make your new ones. I tend to find that I create much, much more than I sell.

Next, the air inside is not as fresh as the air outside… at least not in regards to being uncirculated. I suppose what I really mean here is that there’s less ventilation. And if you work with chemicals like paint or thinners or extenders, anything like that, you need fresh air. Not having access to it can actually be detrimental to your health.

Lastly – and I don’t know if anyone else has felt this but I have – is this feeling of claustrophobia after painting inside for long periods of time.

After a while of painting I start to feel boxed in and the creativity just drops off. At that point, I have to walk away and come back to it later. Outside, I don’t feel that way.

Maybe it’s just me.

Okay, so let’s just jump into the outdoors art.

Thoughts on Creating Abstract Art in the Arizona Outdoors (lol)

Pros

  • Lots of fresh air
  • Creativity
  • Tons of Space

Cons

  • Those damn temperatures
  • Exposed to elements
  • Can be noisy and distracting

I paint outside but honestly I do it out of necessity. I simply lack the room to paint indoors.

As such, I’ve had to learn to deal with the consequences and challenges of painting abstract art outside here in Arizona.

Now, there are a few great things, as listed above.

I love working outdoors, because I enjoy the fresh air, the warmth of the sun (cause I’m always cold for some reason… probably stems from my heart, lol), and I just like enjoying nature. Even if it is mostly cacti and rock.

I have my whole driveway to paint on (now that it’s ruined) and I find that being outside helps me be more creative. I think it has to do with the “not being boxed in” feeling. That I can walk around and not feel confined.

But let’s be real; painting outside is NOT realistic for everyone. Especially here out here in the old AZ.

So let’s tackle the big one right off the bat:

The temperature.

Like 8 months of the year are flippin’ hot here, which makes painting a real pain sometimes. Even if you paint indoors, it tends to dry faster during spring and summer. This is a real nightmare (if you don’t know how to handle it) using water based paints like I do. Oil may take a bit longer to dry, so you may be okay on that one, although I suspect it still poses issues.

We get like 2 months a year that are perfect, then the other two are cold and even worse, wet.

Because of this, I’ve had to learn to schedule my painting for days where it’s less likely to rain, and for smaller pieces I’ll just paint them in the garage on my table.

The only real good side to the heat is that the paintings dry super-fast. This is good for two reasons:

  1. If you make layered paintings, you can start on the next one faster.
  2. If you need to store, ship or hang the painting, it’s less time before you can do so.

Over the past couple years, I’ve had to learn how to use these intense temperatures to my advantage and paint at the coolest times of the day, or even at night.

You also have to deal with the elements, including wind, rain, and dust.

Dust is literally everywhere out here. It’s so bad, dust collects in under a week on my living room tv stand. And painting outside is the worst if dust is swirling around. It literally ruins the painting.

The wind tends to blow my paintings away or flip them over so they get ruined, and I have had a couple of paintings get ruined by rain when I thought it wasn’t going to and it did. My mistake.

Lastly is the noise and distraction. I don’t so much mind the ambient noises – the ones I mentioned earlier – my biggest thing is people trying to talk to me while I’m outside. This isn’t a super huge deal, but I just thought I’d note it.

Conclusion

If possible, paint inside. At least in a studio or garage or something that will block most of the elements and give you some consistency in temperature or environment. The more variables you can carve out of the process, the more focus you put to your artwork. But, if like me, you lack the space to paint indoors, do what you must and simply learn how to adapt to it like I did.

Hopefully this article about making abstract art in Arizona was helpful. If so, please let me know, and consider sharing or buying your own Schwabe Original Painting.

All the best,

Coty Schwabe

Art

Artists – You Can’t Please Everyone

ATTENTION: This post is for any creative type – NOT JUST artists. Writers, content producers, musicians; this is for you.

As an artist, it’s easy to get caught up on trying to please everybody, but there are really only 2 people you actually need to please, and I’ll share that in a moment.

Before I do, let me address a common pitfall that I’ve come across:

It seems to me that a lot of us have people in our lives that have demands on our lives, whether that’s friends or family or heck – even complete strangers!

And oftentimes – these people mean well. They start giving us thoughts or ideas or suggestions that they would like us to complete to give THEM some sort of satisfaction.

I’m not sure if this comes from some desire for them to live vicariously through us, or they simply want to be known by association if that thing is a success or what – but it can cause us to derail from we know we SHOULD be doing.

It stops us from doing what we feel in our core is what WE want to accomplish.

You as the artist know what you’re trying to achieve.

And when you have all these background voices – these other cooks in the kitchen so to speak – trying to direct what you should do, it takes you away from the important stuff.

It causes your work to suffer.

It makes you less productive because you’re chasing these different avenues.

It makes you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.

I get it. I’ve been there.

So who are the two people you need to satisfy as an artist?

The first person you need to satisfy is yourself.

Most creative people I’ve talked to know the quality of their work and what is most fulfilling about it.

And because of this, they (if they’re being honest with themselves) know if their work is up to their standards or not.

Is it good quality?

Does it achieve the goal or message or look you wanted – at least in a way that it feels complete?

If someone sees it, do they see my style or personality in it?

Only you can answer these questions as the creator, and if you’re too busy trying to chase other people’s versions of these things…

…You may never live up to it because it’s THEIR VISION.

When I started painting, I had a ton of people ask me if I did landscapes or portraits or murals. And I told them “no.”

But almost every one of them came back with “you should totally do this because of XYZ” or “I think you’d be really good at it if you just gave it a shot”. Things like that.

But truth is – I knew right away that I would not enjoy painting those things.

Even if I took the time to become semi-decent at those methods, it wouldn’t have fulfilled me.

It was the same thing when I was writing before this.

I’d tell people about a project I was working on, and they’d say things like “what if the characters did this” or “you know what would be cool? If XYZ happened in the story…”

There’s not enough time to try every idea, nor enough energy to entertain every direction your creative work could go.

The second person you need to satisfy is your buyer.

I care so much about what people think of me as a person, that I’m literally AFRAID of disappointing them.

In fact, recently, I had someone buy a small painting of mine. I had another similar painting that I actually felt went with it, and because I didn’t want to fail them, I over-delivered, and sent the other panting AT NOT EXTRA COST.

Now, I did this because I felt it was right at the time (and it served me well) but I also did it because I didn’t want the customer to have a bad experience with me as a seller.

But look- you’re going to get tough customers – even if you do over-deliver. That happens.

And if you’re just starting out or every sale counts and you can’t pick and choose your buyers, then you will have to deal with these customers eventually. It’s a nature of business.

Maybe they don’t like your product for some inane reason.

Or they just want this one thing changed. Again.

Or maybe they simply had buyers remorse.

But here’s the thing: you can still continue to over-deliver, and if it’s not right – simply don’t do business with them again after this and move on.

These people tend to be the minority.

While I think that customers should be treated with respect, I don’t believe they’re always right. Sometimes the expectation just can’t be met no matter how hard you try.

If it comes down to satisfying you or the buyer in the end, I say choose yourself.

Here’s why:

If you create what you genuinely like or are passionate about, you can enjoy the process. 

Bu this only works if you’re not worried about what everyone else thinks or wants.

If you enjoy the process, and you don’t make any sales – well hey – at least you enjoyed making the damn thing. And you can now move on if you’re happy with it.

At this point, I pretty much only create pieces that I know that I will like.

Of course, if someone requests a commission (not just making a suggestion but is ACTUALLY WILLING TO PAY FOR IT) – then I’ll make a piece and they can buy it if they like it, but it still has to conform to my styles in it’s final form.

Just keep putting out the work and enjoy the process, this way you don’t hate it and give it up.

And you never know when you might put out the right piece at the right time and someone who has never purchased from you might buy that particular piece, and that’s the one that kicks bigger things into motion.

God bless.

Coty

What Happens if You Don't Use Stretcher Bars? Art

What Happens if You Don’t Use Stretcher Bars?

If you’re thinking about making your own canvas, you may be tempted to use some flat looking 2×2’s or so, cut out four of them to fit your rectangle (or square – with maybe a few pieces across the middle sections), attach them together with some staples and glue, and you’re off to the races!

Yeah! You just spent $20 to make a squar-ish frame!

Go you! That’s great…

…If you want that bad boy to warp…

…Or not have the ability to be tightened later…

…Or you want your painting to “ghost.”

Lemme esplain.

First off, stretcher bars (or at least decent ones worth buying) are made of kiln-dried, knot free wood.

What this means is that they have been dried out as best as possible, taking out most – if not all – of the moisture in the wood that would otherwise cause it to warp later on.

It being knotless also means less likely of being wavy, instead of straight.

Of course, these pieces may have SOME knots or moisture, but considerably less than a normal piece of wood that you’d buy at a lumber yard or hardware store.

There’s a reason you pay a premium for a stretcher bar or cross brace and a few bucks for a 2′ x 2′.

Another advantage that stretcher bars have is that they are LITERALLY MADE TO BE ADJUSTED.

Stretcher bars have gaps in the corners to allow for tension wedges or “canvas keys.” This allows the canvas to be tightened later on, should the frame slightly warp or canvas sag a bit.

There are arguments that if done correctly, a canvas should never need to be tightened, but IMO it’s nice to have the option, should it ever happen.

Finally, canvas stretcher bars prevent “ghosting.” Ghosting is when the shape of the frame emerges underneath the canvas (painting) itself.

This is a problem for two reasons:

  1. It detracts from the piece. Sometimes it makes it look cheap or tacky, being able to see the frame underneath. There will be this giant square within your painting. Certainly less professional.
  2. It’s harder to correct sagging. On a flat frame, the painting will often rest on the flat surface of the frame itself, and if it does, you’ve got to get it tight enough to pull up off of that frame. The more surface its resting on, the more work you’ve got to do.

This becomes a real problem if the frame is flat, with a sagging canvas resting on that flat frame that ALSO does not have any room for canvas keys.

Stack this on top of warping wood later on, and maybe you can see the problem with using regular wood to make a frame as opposed to stretcher bars.

I have actually seen this on cheaper, flatter canvases. Usually on student grade canvases, where the depth is only 3/4″ (or .8 inches). I’ve have also bought them handmade, from a local dealer, and these pieces too had this issue.

Even using braces, these pieces are still warped TO THIS DAY.

Stretcher bars almost always have a beveled edge so that only the very edge of the corner gives the frame its shape, and the rest of the frame fades away under the canvas, leaving a nice flat canvas with crisp, clean edges.

Obviously, the choice to use regular wood is yours, but I’ve found that by cutting these corners, you run the risk of the piece suffering later on.

My parting advice would be this:

If you’re creating it for yourself – sure. Go for it. Try it out. See if I’m wrong (wouldn’t be the first time).

But if you’re planning on selling those pieces later, my suggestion is to invest in the stretcher bars.

The power is yours.

Coty

Gold black and white abstract painting by Coty Schwabe Art

Stretched vs Unstretched Canvas Differences

When it comes to painting on canvas, you’ve really only got two choices: stretched (canvas already wrapped around a frame) and unstretched, which usually comes rolled up and is literally just a sheet of canvas.

Today, for my fellow artists who have not really experimented with one or the other, I’d like to discuss some of the major differences between the two.

Availibility

Stretched canvas is usually a commonplace staple in most hobbyist craft stores like Michaels or Joann’s, coming in various sizes.

(I tend to find better variety and deals from Michaels).

At the more niche art supply stores like Blick and local vendors, you’ll usually find an even greater variety, albeit at a slightly steeper price.

This is where you’ll probably find the rolled (unstretched) canvas as well.

Most places will sell predefined, already cut rolls, while many of the bigger chains tend to offer cutting for you a specified length from a large roll that they have hanging on the wall.

Of course you can find both online as well.

Much of it can be found on Amazon, although not all of it is worth buying from there, since price and quality varies.

Check a few websites before purchasing to compare. I’ve used Blick and Jerry’s Artarama, and gotten decent prices. Always look for sales and coupons.

Pricing

Stretched canvas can be expensive. Not on sale, one large sized, (36” x 48”) gallery wrapped canvas can be about $80.

That’s steep.

Especially considering that one roll of canvas, precut at Blick, that is 72” by 108” is roughly $100.

(Keep in mind: Prices will vary.)

Of course, the price of a stretched canvas includes its frame, so I really think that’s where the spike comes from.

Another thing: if you DO decide to buy online, keep in mind shipping costs. If you buy large canvases or rolls, your prices will jump if it’s considered oversized, sometimes doubling the final cost.

Generally speaking, rolls are cheaper than stretched pieces of the same size since you’re just paying for the canvas itself.

Preparation

Stretched canvas almost always comes primed with some sort of gesso. In fact, it seems harder to find ones that aren’t – so you can start painting right away.

Rolled tends to come both ways; primed and unprimed.

I think this comes down to personal preference as to which you’d buy, but unprimed (raw) canvas does tend to be slightly cheaper than primed.

Most artists will start painting right on the primer. A small amount apply a thin skim coat first, so that the base is smooth or filled in before getting into the nitty gritty.

One thing to factor in is how cheap the primer feels. If it feels good enough to start laying on paint – great! But if its a cheaper prime, you may want to go ahead and add a quick skim coat before painting fully.

Application

Obviously, with a frame you have a little more flexibility with how you can paint.

On the wall, the ground or on an easel.

With a flat sheet of canvas you’re sort of confined to a flat horizontal surface, or pinned to a wall. (Or some strange angle I haven’t thought of)

However, the advantage that I have found with flat canvas is that it gives you nice even distribution of paint when pressure or weight is applied.

With canvas that is prestretched over a frame, sometimes the weight or your hands or the paint itself will cause the painting to sag towards the middle.

I’ve personally had this happen to me, and it literally ruined my paintings. The paint – too much apparently! – created a huge blob in the center that stood out against the whole piece. It was really noticeable.

Lesson learned.

Finishing

Going the stretched route, you’ll tend to have most – if not all – of your piece on the face (aka the front) of your canvas, since the edges sort of isolate the piece.

What this means is that you’ll have the sides of the painting to deal with.

There are a few options here:

  • You can leave them unpainted. I’ve seen a few professional artists do this. If you’re confident enough to pull this off, I salute you.
  • You can paint them a solid color. More often than not, it’s black. Black tends to give the piece a solidarity, usually separating it from whatever surface it’s up against, since most walls are not black. It’s also not distracting.
  • Lastly, you can use the colors of the piece to give the piece a feeling of continuation from one end to the other. I tend to do this because I like the idea of the whole piece using the same colors.

Now about unstretched canvas.

What’s cool about using flat canvas is the fact that you can do your whole piece on the strip of canvas, then wrap the frame after, and have the painting overlap the sides so that the painting literally goes all the way around the frame. And when you look at the sides, it’s still a contiguous part of what’s on the face.

This is great for abstract. Not sure if it’s as useful for realist type paintings like portraits and landscapes.

Packing and Shipping

When shipping already stretched paintings, you have a few obstacles to worry about:

  • The frame warping or cracking
  • The canvas getting punctured or saggy
  • The painting getting crushed or bent

Not only that, the costs for shipping stretched paintings can be quite high.

How high? To get an idea, read this post about what it cost me to ship to Singapore.

Rolled paintings are awesome to ship or sell.

I’ve seen quite a number of artists these days that sell rolled paintings, so that they don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to ship the piece. They don’t even stretch them. Just paint, roll and ship!

I too do this. My paintings Atlantis and Chasing Sunsets are examples of this.

Shipping these bad boys is as simple as putting them into a cardboard tube and sending them off.

Way cheaper too.

Pricing and Selling

If you’re selling a rolled painting, I’d advise of selling for less, since it’s less work for you and more for the buyer.

They either have to hang this large tapestry like piece OR have it stretched themselves.

I generally sell my unstretched paintings for around half the price as its stretched counterpart.

As for the overall price, the general rule of thumb for newer artists is to charge $00.25 per square inch, but only you can decide that based on your comfort level.

Conclusion

Overall, I’ve been leaning towards using stretched canvas for my medium sized paintings, and unstretched for my larger ones, since I’m willing to put in more work for more money 😉.

One advantage to this route is simply cost. If I mess up a larger painting, it costs less to buy more canvas rolls than actual canvases. And when it comes out good, I can just buy the stretcher bars to fit the painting if need be.

Easy peasy.

Hopefully you found this article to be helpful. If you did, consider sharing it.

If didn’t – go to the doctor.

Just kidding.

All the best and thanks for reading.

Coty