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Art Accessories: Choosing the Right Painting Canvas for Your Project
If you’ve ever been to an art supply store, you’ve probably marveled at the array of paint, brushes, and mediums available for sale. This includes canvas — one of the most essential yet confusing art materials for newbie and student painters.
While canvas can refer to any surface you paint on (aka a support medium), in this section we’ll talk specifically about cloth canvas for painting.
To narrow it down, painting canvas is made with either cotton or linen, which are natural fibers derived from cotton and flax. These fibers are woven to create a durable textile, which can then be stretched or mounted to create various painting canvases.
Linen canvas is the premium choice and is used by many professional painters. If you plan to display or sell your paintings, go with linen. It ensures that the colors will remain brilliant and permanent, even after many years of display. However, cotton canvas is perfectly suitable — and high-quality options can even provide the permanence of linen.
Canvas also comes in multiple textures and weights, with heavier versions offering better quality overall. If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to pick a smooth, medium-to-heavy canvas so you can practice and experiment with various techniques.
Aside from the material, weight, and texture, you can also choose from these four types: canvas rolls, stretched canvas, canvas panels, and canvas pads. Each type has its pros and cons, so read on to learn which one you should choose!
Want to make a painting with unique dimensions? Canvas rolls are sold by the meter or yard, allowing you to cut and stretch the fabric to your preferred size. You can choose from primed or unprimed depending on how you like to paint.
“Primed” refers to canvas with a layer of gesso — a thin base that helps paint adhere to the fabric. This primes the canvas and makes it easier to paint on, especially if you work with oil and acrylic. However, some artists prefer unprimed canvas so they can apply their own gesso. It’s all up to preference!
While they offer the most versatility, canvas rolls can be difficult and time-consuming to use. Thankfully, there are easier ways to use canvas as you’ll see below.
The standard option for painters. With this type of canvas, you don’t have to stretch the fabric yourself, so you can spend more time on painting and less time on prep work. Stretched, primed canvases are convenient to use but can be quite expensive — so you’ll want to find an affordable support if you’re still learning the basic techniques.
This type of canvas comes in a variety of sizes and thicknesses suitable for landscapes, portraits, and more. Deep canvases can be displayed as-is, while thinner ones can be framed. If you’re unsure which to get, start with the thinner ones as they’re lighter and more versatile.
Canvas pads contain either primed canvas sheets or heavyweight paper. They’re portable, inexpensive, and convenient to use, making them a must-have for quick studies and practice. However, they can’t stand in for stretched canvas and should not be used if permanence is what you’re after.
Don’t want to splurge on stretched canvas just yet? Canvas panels are durable, affordable, and compact, making them ideal for young artists and students. Most panels come pre-primed with gesso, allowing for hassle-free studies and practice. If you work with more than one medium, you can use canvas panels to test them out without too much worry. They’re also perfect for DIYs and personalized gifts!
Check Out Our Painting Canvas Collection
Whether you’re a beginner, student painter, or professional artist, you’ll enjoy the convenience of Chalkola’s Premium Canvas Panels. Our canvas boards are pre-primed with acrylic titanium gesso, so you can paint right away with your medium of choice. From acrylic and oil to gouache and watercolor, our acid-free, 280 gsm panels ensure a smooth painting experience. And with so many sizes to work with, you can find the perfect dimensions for your project.
Browse our premium canvas panel sets below: