Wil Harmsen, owner of The Canyon Gallery in Montrose, Colo., is a busy man. Not only does Harmsen run the gallery with his wife, Amy, but they do everything soup to nuts, or capture to framing in this case.
One of the Harmsens’ specialties is canvas printing and finishing, either framed or as a gallery wrap. Wil Harmsen says canvas is the gallery’s most popular medium, providing a painted look that gallery browsers crave.
“Gallery wraps are typically less expensive than framed pieces. If we have a really nice photo, the person who can’t afford a framed print can buy a less expensive gallery wrap. When we print something that big, it could be a $600-700 difference simply because of the frame,” explains Harmsen. “My wife is the framer extraordinaire. What I like about the frame is that it makes it feel like a painting, a piece of art, that gives it a different look and it’s been fairly popular. We usually mount the canvas on archival mount board and put it in the frame. It’s a simple process and the canvas stays flat and beautiful. We’ve been doing it for about five years and haven’t had any problems.”
To get the most out of their images for those who buy their prints, Harmsen has recently switched all of their canvas output to Sunset by Fredrix Matte Canvas, the new OBA-free canvas from LexJet with an unusually bright white point for an OBA-free print medium.
“I love the brighter white base and the wide color gamut I get out of it. I don’t lose any detail, sharpness or tonality. It tends to be spot-on,” says Harmsen. “You cannot tell the difference between printing on this canvas and photo paper other than the canvas gives you the feeling of a painting that many people like.”
Before framing or making a gallery wrap, Harmsen says they coat each canvas with Sunset Satin Coating or Sunset Gloss Coating three times, coating horizontally, then vertically and horizontally again.
“I’ve learned in working with canvas is that if you have dark areas and shadows in the image, one coat typically doesn’t cover the dark spots correctly. It takes multiple coats so you don’t see any lines from rolling on the coating. That way it makes sure to even out the entire photo so there aren’t any issues,” explains Harmsen. “And here’s a big one, especially for galleries: a lot of times when we coat canvas we might get some ink peel coming up with the roller when we were coating. For some reason the new canvas is absorbing the ink a lot better and to date we’ve had zero ink pickup on the roller. That’s huge for us. I’ve got a Denali shot that I can’t print on other canvas because the blue in the sky would pick up on the roller. Now that we’re printing on Sunset by Fredrix, problem solved… gone.”