Canvas Wall Art

[Editor’s note: Bob Keesy gives some basic pointers about making Canvas wall art. This post is a continuation of the previous post, Sharing a Heirloom]

In my Sharing a Heirloom post I explained the story of a special heirloom we have in our family and how I scanned it and used the Easy-Stitch software to digitize the original. I ended up with a jpeg file that I could then share. In my case, the original item is an artist brush-painted, glossy, acrylic portrait on a stretched canvas. This is, in fact, a “double heirloom” since it is a portrait of my mother-in-law painted by my artist sister-in-law, Karen. Here I’ve attached a close up to show the fine details of both the painting of the hair and the original painting canvas grain captured by Flip-Pal with the scan.

Since the original is a painting on canvas, I would also like to have a reproduction done on canvas. You may also have your own single copy of original art. It could be anything from a favorite record album cover to a classic poster, painting, photograph or even some wonderful artwork that one of your children or grandchildren created for a school art fair. Art is simply what you love and what you define it to be. For the purposes of this article, let’s assume that you have already scanned some original “art” and you are now ready to make a reproduction.

Original canvas

Scan detail of original painting on canvas

Don’t Let Price Scare You

You’ll need to decide what material you want to use for your reproduction. Depending on how or where you want to display the art and the amount of money you want to spend, you may want to go slightly up-scale in the sophistication for the final piece. Of course you could edit an original item before starting as well. For example, you might either add or remove color or texture to an old photograph.

In my case, I simply want to go from a canvas original to a reasonably-priced canvas reproduction. I’m interested in having a wall hanging that I consider (as a non-painter) to be a good reproduction of the original. My viewpoint here will be less critical than Karen’s, who spent hours painting the piece. That’s a normal result, since unlike me, she has the trained eye of an artist. I’ll touch on that briefly.

Here is where you and I can experiment and have fun learning. The first thing to understand is that you can have a canvas reproduction made at a pretty reasonable price. Then, if you want, you can continue to learn more about this topic as an enjoyable compliment to one of your other hobbies.

What’s a “reasonable” price? There are literally dozens of online stores selling the low-end canvas items in the size I’m interested in (12 x 16 inches) for $25-$30 dollars. Some of these online services even offer a money back guarantee. Some of these services are even integrated with photo processing stores such as Walmart, Costco and Walgreens. Other services are offered by familiar online photo processing sites such as Shutterfly. A first step up from these entry-level services would cost $45-$80. My goal here however is not to offer up any review or recommendations between the many services. Canvas quality, as with proto processing quality, is a rich topic and can lead to some time doing basic research if nothing else. Instead, my introduction here is to make sure you understand that for roughly the price of low-cost dinner at a restaurant you could have a custom canvas wall hanging.

Now let’s talk a little about items to consider with a canvas print that are unique.

Print Quality and Canvas Texture

Yes, you will likely get what you pay for. So what are some differences between the entry-level and higher-priced canvas copies that a professional would use?

  • Low-cost consumer canvas prints may suffer from oversaturation of particular colors like reds, greens or blues.
  • There may be some color shifting when compared to color-calibrated monitors.
  • High-detail areas, such as hair, may not be well resolved.

It becomes difficult to say whether these items will matter to you. How critical are you in general? For regular photo prints, if you have never noticed quality differences between “bargain” photo copy companies, then you are a different type of customer then someone who always goes to the “best” camera and photography store in town for their prints.

Some quality differences will be visible at 3-5 inches, but not at the standard viewing distance of 3-6 feet. For example, at art stores you can see different types of canvas. Some makers will use a thinner grain of canvas with higher detail and others with use a thicker grain of canvas with slightly less detail. It isn’t easy to evaluate this type of item, especially from the large company chain suppliers—they may or may not even have any product to see at their store. Higher priced services will be better at answering questions.

Higher-End Options and Differences!

What if you are really excited about your project and quality is more important than saving a few dollars? This opens up more doors and more things to consider.

  • Are you interested in only purchasing the wrapped canvas or do you want it already framed?
  • Canvas prints are typically wrapped. This means the canvas is wrapped around a hardwood frame. This wrapped canvas may be hung on the wall without a frame or inserted into a frame of your choice.
  • Wrapping on ¾ inch wood may be called Standard or Euro wrapped and has a slim look.
  • Wrapping on thicker frames is generally required for larger sizes in order have tight stretching.
  • Thicker frames may or may not be available from entry-level suppliers. At least one company I reviewed offers both a 1½ inch “Gallery” wrap and a 2½ inch “Extra Deep” wrap versions in addition to Standard wrap or un-mounted.
  • Quality issues for high priced items: check that canvas materials are OBA free to insure high resistance to fading or yellowing. OBAs are optical brightening agents that tend to evaporate over time.
  • The canvas comes standard with UV resistant coating to give your canvas a longer life.
  • Low cost canvas items typically are open-back without backing paper, board or hanging hardware. Higher-end canvas products generally have some type of backing and hangers included.
  • Higher-end canvas suppliers may offer two or three different types of canvas.
  • Higher-end canvas suppliers may also offer different types of coatings. For example Satin finish and Matte. This is not likely a big issue since almost everyone will opt to have the default Satin finish with a tiny bit of gloss to bring out the color. A less expensive supplier usually offers only one finish or sheen.

Hopefully this basic information gets you excited about and not afraid to try your own “canvas art project”. Whether you would like to do a fun reproduction for a gallery style display that shows off school art projects from your kids or grand-kids or if you have a painting heirloom like me; just have some fun. Countless types of items can be scanned with the Flip-Pal and be transformed into a very special piece of art.

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