Stretching canvas and myself

Stretching canvas and all the tools that it requires in this photo by fine artist in training, Julie Dyer HolmesStretching canvas is definitely one of the tasks I have on my ‘to do’ list. But, I am not very intuitive or adept with tools. In fact, I wrote about one of my power tool adventures last summer. And, you know what? Like most problems, there are solutions.

Fortunately, one of my fabulous teachers, Lea Colie Wight, offered to demonstrate how she stretches her canvasses. I attended her demonstration and recorded every step she took. But then, I asked so many questions. Why? Well, because I am so non-savvy with tools, powered or manual. Next I went to a follow up hands-on canvas stretching session with classmates and Lea. Either way, I got to practice what I had heard with an expert on hand. This is the absolute best way for me to learn something new.

Guess what? I can stretch my own canvasses and did so, eight times, this weekend (see picture above). Wahooo! I can not tell you how empowering this experience has been.

The other stretching experience I want to share is the ongoing, 7-week still life painting, a work in progress, with my mentor, Shira Friedman. In this session, I focussed on the mug for the entire day. I did this because I knew that the drawing and the color relationships of the painting were where they needed to be at this stage. One of the first things I noticed after I had oiled out the mug is that the shadow inside the mug was too blue. So, I squinted and compared this shadow to the rest of the colors in the still life set up. Voila – I saw so much more green in that shadow than I had in previous sessions.

Work in progress still life showing a mug and a lemon and a different kind of stretching for Julie Dyer Holmes, fine artist in training at Studio Incamminati in Philadelphia PAOne of the other tasks I had to consider is the sharper and softer edges of the painting. And, I learned that using a brush stroke in the opposite direction of the line creates a delicious and luscious feel. For instance, I used a small vertical stroke on the rim and the handle of the mug. This seems counter intuitive to me. I had originally used brush strokes that followed the lines of the edge of the rim and the edge of the handle. But the short vertical lines added a lush look that I never would have anticipated (see picture). Do not get me wrong, I see so many more things I need to do in this painting but I feel as if I learned some wonderful techniques that will help me long after I finish this one.

What’s next? The rest of the mug and lemon need lots more work. But, in my fourth week of seven, I have been stretched by this systematic approach to oil painting. Stay tuned!



  1. Beth D Clary
    October 25, 2016

    Huh – cool especially about the brush strokes and their impact. LOVE the colors for this painting!

    • Julie Holmes
      October 29, 2016

      Thanks Beth! Stay tuned on this one. I am nearly finished with this painting and hope to share the final version soooooon. 😉


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