Thrift Stores and Homemade
One option is to buy old paintings from the goodwill stores and repaint them with Gesso to get a white finish. Then you can paint anything you like on them. Also, you can mount your own canvasses by stapling them to the frame (you'll have to have a heavy-duty staple gun). Just start in the center of one side, staple the canvass there and then stretch it slightly and staple the other side (this must be done on the back of the frame). Do the sides, the ends, and then expand out from the center and continue to stretch the fabric.
The frames are most easily made using a table saw or a radial arm saw, but can be made with a simple mitre box and saw. I've even made them with my old Black and Decker circular saw, but it's hard to get your angles just right with that. Then glue the frame (yellow wood glue) and nail the pieces together with small finishing nails.
The Dollar Store
I buy mine at a near by dollar store you can get 3 small ones $1 or one big one for $1.
Masonite, Thin Wood, Cookie Sheets and Old Saws
I also paint over old works and if you're working in acrylics (or latex, since I use a lot of 'oops' mis-tinted house paints in my own work) regular old primer works just fine. Moving away from canvas is always fun, Keith Haring made paintings on masonite (and every available surface) almost a cliche, but it's the only decent use I can think of for all that old 70's faux-wood panelling, and it's a rare week that you can't ground-score some of that. Actually, any thin board can be used, a surprising number of older paintings are done on boards, not canvasses. Luan plywood, any hardwood lumber (I'm not a fan of pine), old cookie sheets (spray with auto primer to get a good working surface, and clear-coat afterwards. Heck, there's a fair market for landscapes painted on old hand-saws in my area, at least the tourists seem to like them!
My Canvas Ideas
- 70s Prints: I look for those 70s mod art prints and buy them at yard sales, especially the ones that were done on box canvases.
- Doors: Hollow core doors without a knob hole in it are great after a bit of gesso!
- Old Lithographs: I'm also thinking of using old lithographs that are already in their frames (the ones you find in hotels and motels)!
- Masonite: My mother always painted on masonite, you can buy a 4x8 sheet at your local lumber company and have it cut to general picture sizes.
- Cardboard: I also love smooth cardboard with a layer of Gesso.
- Brown Paper: Brown paper also could work if you paint the front and back with Gesso (it kills the acid).
Keep painting please this world can always use another artist! :)
By Paisley Punk
Framing shops will often give away or charge a small fee (like $5) for a BOX of matte board pieces that you can easily paint on.
By Paisley Punk
Old Windows and Canvas
I've heard from a friend of mine that she makes her own canvases with old windows (without the glass) and stretches the canvas across them and staples them. Many people sell old windows at garage sales in the summer so you can pick a few up cheap.
One of my customers at the fabric store would purchase and use Duck Cloth for his canvas. He said it was so much more affordable.
I read on another post that in a 6th grade art class a woman was told to bring in an old sheet and they made frames out of wood and then nailed or stapled the fabric to the frame, and that made a cheap canvas to paint on. I don't know how good this would work but it is certainly cheap, you can make many canvases with one sheet, and you can get sheets easily at thrift stores and yard sales. Good luck!