How Priming Affects the Longevity of Your Painting

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Whether you’re getting ready to put brush to canvas for the first time, or are a seasoned fine artist, there are certain things to be aware of before making that first stroke, especially if you want your work to last the test of time.


One of the most important things to be check is whether or not the canvas you are using is primed or not. Whether you’ve purchased a pre-stretched, pre-primed canvas from your local art supplier, or are the DIY type, unsatisfied unless you do the priming personally, it’s a simple step that if overlooked, could lead to your creation becoming a temporary effort.
Priming protects canvases from the deteriorative effects caused by chemicals in oil paints. It also provides a better surface for paints to adhere to.
For proof of the damage that can be caused by paints and time, you only have to look at the works of Jackson Pollock and the extensive work that is being done to preserve quickly decaying pieces, namely “Mural,” an 8-by-20 foot canvas painted in 1943.

Considered one of the 20th century’s most important paintings, researchers at the Getty Conservation Institute have been working for more than two years to repair and preserve “Mural.” Since its creation, “Mural,” and a number of other Pollock pieces have suffered from chipped paint and faded colors—caused by chemicals within the pigments.
Of course, it may have been impractical for Pollock to prime such a large canvas. But for people like you and me, it’s a simple process that will save grief in the long run.
If you plan on priming yourself, be sure your canvas is stretched tightly and your primer is stirred up evenly. Using a stiff brush, apply two coats, allowing time to dry in between; sand lightly after the second coat and apply a final coat.
If you’re a beginner, or simply don’t feel the need to prime by hand, you can find a number of pre-primed canvases at your go-to art store, including many from Fredrix.
All of our coatings are specially formulated to complement and enhance the unique inherent characteristics of the natural fibers as well as to protect the canvas fibers against acidic deterioration with a buffered neutral PH sizing. And to top it off, Fredrix canvas is the only canvas in the US still primed by hand the old-fashioned way. Visit“Our Canvas” page on our Fredrix Artist Canvas website to see the variety of products to best suit your needs.

Happy painting