Edges – How I Finish Canvas Edges

Edges are big, maybe huge in painting. But let’s talk about the edges of a canvas rather than the edges within a piece! I’ve gone through quite an evolution in terms of how I handle finishing the edges of my larger pieces. Currently, I use black gesso that I’ve thinned out to a sticky, not soupy consistency. I mix a good amount of this up ahead of time, so it’s ready to go when I need it. I have a couple brushes that are the right size and keep them just for the task of painting the edges.

I have gone to this “black gallery stripe” rather than painting the image around the edge or leaving the canvas raw. I received feedback from a couple galleries that the method of painting the image around the edge was too similar to a giclee wrap and made original pieces feel like reproductions! Not good. Leaving the raw canvas didn’t feel right either, making me feel the pieces weren’t quite finished.  It’s also hard to keep the raw canvas tidy when you are throwing paint around.

I’m working on some new stuff that is on wood panel. I’ve taped off the edges just experimenting with leaving the wood edge, but I’ll have to see how that looks. I may end up painting those edges black too.

I think it’s important to put some thought into how a work is finished and presented. Next blog post; signatures. Happy Painting!!

3 thoughts on “Edges – How I Finish Canvas Edges”

  1. Dear Marla, Interesting discussion. For years I have left my edges as simple Gesso White and unframed, this is because of my experience in contemporary art buyers often either enjoy a unframed non-color edge to canvas / stretcher because they enjoy the elegant and simple lines that brings to the piece, or because if they do intend to frame the piece, they do not have to purchase any existing frame and have it removed. I look forward to seeing you, and your works in the future. Sincerely, Joseph Blanchette

  2. I paint mine exactly like you with black gesso. I find acrylic paint to sticky for the task at hand and gesso doesn't leave brush marks. Good for you! Easy and looks great even when I put a frame on it creating a nice slim shadow around the piece.

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