How to choose your canvas

Canvas is the foundation of your painting. Choosing the right canvas will have a bearing on both the ease of the painting process as well as the end result. So what canvas is best for your creative endeavours? Below are a few tips from us on how to get it right!

Material

When choosing your canvas, pay close attention to the material.

Cotton

Cotton canvas is today the most common and frequently-used canvas type. With this type of canvas, it’s hard to go wrong; you can get it to do pretty much what you want, making it easy and satisfying to use with any type of oil technique.

Pros:

  • cotton canvas is cheaper than linen types;
  • cotton canvas is naturally stretchy, thus making it easy and satisfying to paint on.

Cons:

– moisture-absorbent;

– warps easily;

– over time it may sag or hang loose.

Linen

Opting for a linen canvas, you’ll be following in the footsteps of the Old Masters, who painted their masterpieces exclusively on this material. Linen has cemented itself as one of the most highly-favoured canvas types, for centuries serving as painters’ ground of choice in contrast to cotton, which appeared relatively recently. It is seen by artists as the most ‘noble’ of painting ground and ultimately – as the ideal material.

Pros:

– not moisture-absorbent like cotton;

– not as prone to sagging;

– less prone to warping.

Cons:

–  linen canvas is much more expensive than cotton types.

Texture size

As a rule, texture sizes can always be found written on the canvas. There are three different texture sizes. So, which is the best?

Fine

This texture type is characteristically smooth, with very soft, fine texture. It’s ideally suited for staining techniques and layering colours. It also works well for portraits.

Medium

Canvas with an average-size texture is the most widely-used. It’s very good for those who want to work with paint in depth, i.e. for pastose techniques, as well as for applying multi-layered glazing effects.

Rough

This texture type is excellent for applying paint with a palette knife and will hold the paint in place without causing the canvas to distort or sag.

Primer types

Your canvas should be primed if you want to work with oils. You can buy canvas that has already been primed or non-primed canvas, which you can prime yourself. Acrylic primed canvas can be used with acrylics and oils. Oil primed canvas should be used with oils

Stretched canvas or canvas board

Stretched canvas

The advantage of stretched canvas is that you can adjust its stretchiness. When transporting the canvas you can remove the canvas from its board and then roll it out once again.

Canvas board

This is the same canvas but attached to a board. It is finer and cheaper than stretched canvas. You cannot adjust its stretchiness, but on the plus side it won’t hang loose or sag over time.