Mounting Photo on Stretched Canvas Tutorial

So, there’s this little shop I like to frequent: RitsumeiArts. She has some really great fine art prints available there. She does excellent work! That is why I purchase an enlarged print of Essence of Fire from her shop, for my very own. She was even kind enough to let me talk her into cropping it into a 16×16 square print.

So then I had this great picture, and even a place in mind for it in my home. Next, it was time to decide how to hang it. Originally, I was thinking I’d just go with a frame; that’s simple and easy and, since the picture’s not too odd a size, it should be a snap, right? Sure! Except that I couldn’t find a frame that I liked. Anywhere.

In looking around my house for ideas of what might match the current scheme of things, there was a noticeably small number of framed pictures. In fact, my favorites are these three beautiful prints that are gallery wrapped. This got me thinking. Could I do that myself with this picture??

This called for some investigative work.

I did some research, chatted with the good people at my local craft store and, of course, did some experimenting and, in the end, concluded that it was indeed, quite possible to do a (mock) gallery wrap myself. So I did.

And since I didn’t find much by way of tutorials for this particular project, I thought I’d put my two cents out there for anyone else who might be curious.

Here’s how it went:

Step 1: Collect the necessary materials – most are available at any art and craft store (I’m partial to Blick and JoAnn’s)
Fine Art Print (to be mounted)
Prepared Canvas (stretched and gessoed)
Acrylic paints and brush (if additional color is desired)
Mod Podge Adhesive – available in multiple finishes (I went with a matte finish)


Step 2: Paint the Canvas
Since this picture is vibrant orange with splashes of yellow, I decided to continue with that color family, but in an abstract way rather than attempt to make the edges look like an extension of the picture.

For the face of the canvas, I used a bigger brush to cover more space and to make more uniform brush strokes. Acrylics are a translucent paint, so you might need multiple coats to be sure the white doesn’t show through anywhere that will be visible in the end.

Be sure to keep the surface of the canvas, that which will ultimately be under the photo, as smooth as possible; keeping the brush strokes going in one direction with broad, uniform strokes; this will make for a more stable area to adhere the photo.

I painted a little bit onto the back of the canvas as well, to ensure that there wouldn’t be any visible gaps later on.

I found it easier to paint three of the edges, wait for them to dry a bit, and then paint the final side. Acrylics dry quite fast (which makes them very handy for this type of project), so I only had to wait a couple of hours before painting the final edge.

In order to keep the paint color consistent for when I went back, I covered my original batch of mixed paint with plastic wrap. This will keep the paint usable for several hours.

Around the edges of the canvas, I used a smaller brush and used more paint to add a little bit of physical texture. Also, to help match the photo, and for some visual contrast, I added flecks of yellow to the orange.

Let the paint dry completely before mounting the photo to the canvas.


Step 3: Trim the Photo to Size
While, an approximate fit will work just fine if you’re sticking the picture in a frame, I discovered that a little bit of fine tuning was needed to get the photo to fit on my prepared canvas just right.

Because the edge of the canvas is a little bit curved, I trimmed down the picture from the edge just a speck so the photo would lay completely flat.


Step 4: Mount the Picture on Canvas
Now for the fun part! The culminating moment: Sticking the picture to the canvas!
For the gluing, I use a separate brush than I use for painting; Mod Podge leaves the brush just slightly sticky and the texture of the bristles is never the same, so consider using an old one you don’t love.

Turn the photo over, spread the adhesive on the back of the picture with smooth, uniform strokes. Don’t use too much, just a light layer is needed. Also, be careful not to get any spots of glue on the front of the photo; it’ll affect the smooth finish later.

Mod Podge dries pretty quickly, so I didn’t take many pictures of this step. But once the adhesive covers the back of the photo fully, flip it over and carefully position it squarely on top of the canvas.

With a very lightly dampened paper towel or cloth, gently wipe up any excess adhesive that might be poking out around the edges of the photo. Be careful not to wipe the photo too much or with too much liquid, else you risk lifting color from the photo.

Next, turn the canvas and attached photo over, so the back side of the canvas is facing up. Carefully put a bit of weight on the back to ensure that when the photo dries, it is fully attached and flat.


Step 5: Add Layers of Protective Cover
Once you’ve finished Step 4, and the adhesive behind the photo is fully dried, flip the canvas back over. Using long motions, cover the whole piece – on top of the photo and all exposed canvas, with a layer of adhesive. This stuff goes on a milky white, but will dry clear.

As you apply the first layer of adhesive, use gentle strokes going in one direction. Do not rub or you run the risk of damaging the photo. Once that is completely dried, I recommend a second layer to be sure it is completely sealed.


Step 6: Enjoy!

Once the last layer of adhesive has been applied, step back and admire your handy work!
Be sure to let it dry completely before you move it anywhere.
Now it’s ready for that perfect spot that you had in mind!



Author: momo211

I've been active in the arts pretty much my entire life. Growing up, my home was filled with creativity; my dad's an accomplished painter and my mom has always harbored a great love for music and art and they passed it on down to their kids. When I was a little, my parents saw my avid interest (and inclination to draw on any available space - including school tests and myself) and they gave me a sketch book for my birthday and things have just blossomed from there. Officially, my main focus of study has been music, but my true love has always been art. I've been commissioned as an illustrator for kids books, a portrait painter, creator of center pieces for private parties and, most recently, a designer of kids clothes. My aim is for the designs to express a whimsical and playful feel to reflect the essence of childhood. However, I also strive to branch out from the generic "pink princess" and "sports fan" designs that are so prevalent out there. Every kid has their own personality, why not express it?

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