Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Creating Giclee Fine Art Prints on Canvas

I create my canvas giclee prints using my Epson Stylus Pro 7600 printer and Epson PremierArt glossy canvas. The printer accepts 24" media, both paper and canvas. This allows me to print my 22"x30" watercolor paintings full size. I also use it to make print on canvas of my underwater photographs. The prints are absolutely beautiful, with vibrant, saturated colors.

I have found that even though the canvas is supposed to be waterproof, the prints are very easy to damage unless they are well coated with a clear brush-on sealer. I seal my prints with three coats. For the first coat, I use Liquitex Gloss Varnish and for the second coat, PremierArt Eco-Print Shield which contains a uv blocker. Both coatings are non-yellowing acrylic polymer. Another acrylic coating that can be used in Golden's gloss varnish with UV block. An added benefit of the sealers are they actually make the colors more vibrant. The manufacturer recomends letting the print "cure" for 24-48 hours before coating. I have found that this is not long enough, and have run into the problem of the coating popping off at the corners. I let my prints dry for at least a week before coating, which seems to eliminate the problem. A word of warning, use a very soft brush to apply the coating with, or it may damage the print. I recommend inexpensive watercolor wash brushes, or sponge paint rollers.

I find that the coated prints don't like hot, humid conditions and will become sticky. I remedy this by spraying them with a light, even final coat of Krylon UV-Resistant Crystal Clear Gloss, which takes away the stickiness. I personally like the glossy look, but I have observed that artists who coat their canvas with the matte varnish do not have the problem with stickiness.

If you are going to stretch the print gallery wrap style, it is best to do it before coating. Sometimes the corners will crack during stretching. You can touch them us easily with a little acrylic paint. It is best not to use canvas pliers, as pulling too hard on the canvas will result in cracking. You can tighten the canvas after stretching by inserting wood or plastic tighteners into the corners and tapping them with a hammer.

Instead of stretching, you can mount the print onto a backing board such as acid-free mat board, acid-free foam core or masonite (I recommend using masonite for anything over 11"x14", or the backing board may warp). Heat will damage the prints, so heat-type dry mounting is not recommended. I use a product made by 3m called Positionable Mounting Adhesive. It is easy to work with and acid free.