Large canvas stretchers like this one in Orillia’s City Hall have special design features to support the additional weight of your canvas and media.

Large canvas stretchers like this one in Orillia’s City Hall have special design features to support the additional weight of your canvas and media.

Sometimes, the space in a room or on an outdoor surface just begs for an oversized piece of artwork. Large, complex paintings like the one above can make a statement, tell a story, and bring the rest of the decorative elements in the room together.

We’ve worked on countless oversized artworks over the years, and wanted to share a few with you to inspire you to think big! When it comes to blank canvas, your only limitations are your imagination. If you can conceive of a project, a stretcher can be crafted to meet its unique needs.

(In fact, we’re working with an art conservator right now on a stretcher frame for a 150+ lb canvas… stay tuned for that incredible case study on the blog this fall!)

In this post, we’ll take a look at some amazing oversized artworks, meet the talented artists who envisioned them, and learn more about the design and engineering factors that provide the rock solid, durable foundation for each one.

Jim Frederick’s ‘Majestic’

‘Majestic’ by Jim Frederick.

‘Majestic’ by Jim Frederick. Photo credit: Jim Frederick Studios

Dallas artist Jim Frederick’s artistic style is eclectic, vibrant and larger than life. It was a great pleasure to craft the foundation for his 5-piece tiled painting, ‘Majestic.’

Extra-deep 3-inch custom canvas stretchers, the basis for Jim Frederick’s ‘Majestic.’

Deep, steeply arched and gallery-wrapped, these custom canvases are fixed, unlike most of our canvases which are keyable to enable adjustments to canvas tension over time.

Oversized Stretcher Frame Assembly at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

This massive November 2016 installation of 5 parts at the Smithsonian required two different types of stretcher frames. We used Heavy Duty Professional stretcher bars and added extra heavy duty bracing for the three “smaller” panels, each under 10 feet in size.

Heavy duty bracing supports longer stretcher bars and helps to prevent them bending under the tension of stretched canvas.

Heavy duty bracing supports longer stretcher bars and helps to prevent them bending under the tension of stretched canvas.

Two larger canvases, each measuring approximately 10’ x 18’, needed quite a bit of extra support. For these, we designed and built a special hybrid aluminum-wood stretcher frame to make sure each frame would support the artwork over its lifetime.

Hybrid aluminum-wood canvas stretchers provide ample support for oversized artworks, where wooden bars of that length would warp or bend over time.

Hybrid aluminum-wood canvas stretchers provide ample support for oversized artworks, where wooden bars of that length would warp or bend over time.

You can see more of this exciting installation here on our blog.

Cory Trépanier’s ‘Great Glacier’

Caledon-based artist, filmmaker and Arctic explorer Cory Trépanier’s ‘Great Glacier’ was slated to become part of a traveling museum exhibition of Canadian Arctic oil paintings that would open at the Canadian Embassy in Washington DC in December, 2016.

However, its original stretcher frame was too light in construction. It simply wasn’t built to support the approximately 5.5’ x 15’ of canvas and had begun to twist and warp. Cory reached out to us and found the right solution in a hybrid aluminum-wood stretcher frame, like the above.

Caledon, Ontario artist Cory Trépanier discussing his needs for ‘Great Glacier’ with Upper Canada Stretchers.

Caledon, Ontario artist Cory Trépanier discussing his needs for ‘Great Glacier’ with Upper Canada Stretchers.

His new stretcher frame was keyable, so the canvas won’t slack or sag over time. Vertical braces provided mounts for a custom gravity bar system, and wooden outer bars made for easy canvas tacking.

Hybrid aluminum-wood frames provide maximum support and keep edges perfectly square, even for your largest projects.

Hybrid aluminum-wood frames provide maximum support and keep edges perfectly square, even for your largest projects.

In the end, Cory’s impressive oil-on-linen was perfectly square and fitted with an expensive Italian picture frame. The Into the Arctic collection of over 50 of his spectacular far north scenes is scheduled to travel to seven U.S. museums from 2017 through 2019. You can see the exhibition tour schedule on Cory’s website.

Pierre Coupey Massive Triptych

“Pierre Coupey‘s new paintings are open and full of feeling and intelligence. In many ways, they look autumnal, although I doubt they were painted with this time of year in mind.” – Kevin Griffin, Vancouver Sun

Pierre Coupey’s Untitled XV oil on canvas, a 102" x 222" triptych (2015). Image credit: Coupey.ca.

Pierre Coupey’s Untitled XV oil on canvas, a 102″ x 222″ triptych (2015). Image credit: Coupey.ca.

Gifted west coast Canadian artist Pierre Coupey was this year’s Featured Artist at the Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver. Back in 2015, he was commissioned to do a triptych for 745 Thurlow, Vancouver, that required a large, heavy duty stretcher to support the sheer size of the three pieces.

Each panel measured 102″ x 74″ and the three were fastened together as part of the installation.

The three panels of Pierre Coupey’s triptych, each supported by heavy duty bracing, are fastened together. Photo credit: Coupey.ca.

The three panels of Pierre Coupey’s triptych, each supported by heavy duty bracing, are fastened together. Photo credit: Coupey.ca.

Heavy duty bracing protected the canvas backing and added support to prevent stretcher frame bending or twisting.

Finally, the brilliant finished piece was unveiled and installed for all to enjoy.

The larger your artwork, the more complex the design of your stretcher frame becomes. But as we’ve learned over decades of engineering, builds and installs, there’s a stretcher frame solution for every oversized challenge.

There are a lot of factors to consider, from the temperature and humidity of the display location, to the weight of your media and canvas tension, to your shipping and/or traveling exhibit needs. Don’t let any of that discourage you from bringing your most ambitious artworks to life.

Want to learn more? Download your free UCS Heavy Duty Stretcher Buyer’s Guide to discover the specifications that warrant the step up to heavy duty, which design elements suit which types of projects, and more.


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