This post will guide you through some of the different types of canvas you can paint on so that you can decide what canvas to use for your next painting. Canvas is one of the most popular supports for painting for the following reasons:
- Paint binds well to the canvas weave.
- It is archival, depending on the quality of the canvas.
- It has stood the test of time and has been used for centuries by many masters of painting.
- It is lightweight and portable (which is particularly important if you are painting plein air).
The downside is that it can be an expensive support to paint on, depending on the quality of the canvas.
Canvas is usually made from either linen or cotton which is woven and stretched over a frame or glued to a board. Linen produces a higher quality and more archival canvas but it is also more expensive than cotton.
The weight of the canvas refers to the thread density and is usually measured in ounces per yard. The higher the weight of the canvas, the better the quality.
The texture of the canvas is determined by the weave and can be either rough or smooth. If you paint with a high level of detail, then you may want to go for the smooth textured canvas. If you have a more impressionist style, then you may prefer the rough canvas
There are various types of canvas supports you can use for painting such as stretched canvas, canvas rolls, boards and pads. These are discussed below.
Stretched canvas refers to canvas which has been stretched over a wooden frame (known as stretcher bars). This is the go-to canvas support for most artists.
Stretched canvas comes with either a thin or thick edge. The thin edged canvas is perfect if you want to frame your painting at a later stage. The thick edged canvas is gaining popularity at the moment as it looks very presentable even without a frame.
I personally use thin edged canvas for most of my paintings, as I like the idea of having my paintings framed.
It is possible to stretch your own canvas and it can work out to be much more affordable. To do this you need to purchase a canvas roll and attach it to stretcher bars. You will also need to ensure the canvas is primed with a layer of gesso (which is kind of like a thick, acrylic paint).
I personally do not bother stretching my own canvas, as I prefer to leave that to the professionals and I would rather spend more time painting. But you may want to try it out for yourself.
Just make sure to do your research before you attempt this and don't forget the opportunity cost of your time (it may not be cheaper to make your own canvas after taking into account the time you invest).
Canvas Boards (Or Panels)
Canvas boards (or panels) are a cheap, sturdy and portable alternative to stretched canvas. But they are prone to warping and are usually less archival. Canvas boards also need to be framed to be presented, unlike stretched canvas which can be hung straight on your wall.
I use canvas boards for any studies, demonstrations or if I need a support which is extremely portable and sturdy (for example, if I am traveling and need to pack the support in a bag).
Canvas pads contain primed canvas sheets which are fantastic for quick studies. The pads are relatively inexpensive compared to the other options, however they are not that suitable for your showcase pieces.
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