Folded Canvas Painting


Hungarian born artist, Simon Hantaï, was an important figure in European art until his death in 2008. He spent most of his life in France, and was best known for his abstract work. His desire to move away from conventional methods of painting, lead to a process called pliage. Hantaï invented this technique, which involved folding and crumpling unstretched canvas, before adding bold and vibrant colours to it. This enabled him to continue exploring patterns and repetitiveness, present in his earlier work, while focussing on the importance of white space and the idea of chance.

This project is inspired by Hantaï’s pliage work, and very simply explores the idea of painting and creating art in a non conventional way, by scrunching canvasses and having fun.


  • unstretched primed canvas, or stretched canvas on frame which will be removed
  • scissors
  • craft knife
  • acrylic paint
  • paint brushes



1. Have a look at artist Simon Hantaï’s pliage work for inspiration. To begin, you’ll need a piece of unstretched canvas, which is typically sold by the foot in art supply stores. Another option, which I used, is a stretched canvas from a dollar store. In order to remove the canvas, flip it over to the wrong side, and using a utility knife, cut it off the frame.


Trim off the folded edges with scissors so you have a flat piece. You may want to save the frame for later.


2. Make creases and folds in the canvas.


Prepare the acrylic paints you’ll be using, by placing them in a palette. Set aside one paint brush per colour. Begin painting sections of the folded canvas with one of the colours. You can continue to create folds and creases as you go along.


Continue adding other colours. You may want to wait for each colour to dry before adding others, so they don’t mix. Allow paint to dry.


3. If you decide to frame the painting, set the frame on top of the canvas to position it properly, then flip it over and staple the canvas onto the back of the frame, using a staple gun. Hantaï fully stretched his canvasses, but leaving some of the folds looks pretty cool too.



Filed under Artists, painting, Simon Hantaï

4 responses to “Folded Canvas Painting

  1. This is so interesting! I really enjoyed learning about this technique.

  2. Oh, that does look like such an interesting project! thanks so much for sharing on craft schooling Sunday!

  3. What a cool process art activity! I’ve never seen anything like this – pinned to my art for kids board 🙂

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