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Besides applying Gesso or primer onto your canvas to prepare it for painting, you may also need to stretch your canvas. If you don't purchase a pre-stretched canvas, you will need to stretch it yourself. If you purchase a pre-stretched canvas you won't need to stretch it. Regardless of which type of canvas you choose, you will need to treat it with a primer before painting after it is stretched. If you do not have your canvas treated or prepared correctly, your painting will not last as long and most likely will have damage done to it eventually.