Types of canvases for painting, which to choose

Choosing a canvas is probably one of the hardest tasks for a beginner artist. Canvas is the basis for your masterpiece, and if you choose a canvas incorrectly, then the masterpiece may turn out to be “wrong” or simply fail. By choosing a canvas you seem to be defining the technique and method of painting. What is the secret? Let’s take a closer look at what a canvas is and how to choose it correctly.

When choosing a canvas, pay attention to the material. You have seen the abundance of canvases now offer art shops and websites? Do not choose a canvas at random, a little knowledge will help you decide easily and quickly.

From what material to choose a canvas for oil paints, cotton or flax?

  • Cotton canvas to choose from or not.
  • Choose cotton canvas or not

Cotton canvases are probably the most common today and are in constant demand. Choosing a cotton canvas, you will not miss, the material is “obedient”, it is pleasant and convenient to paint pictures in any technique oil. As far as I know, cotton canvases were the first to be used in the USA, only in the last century. As you understand, they are not even a century, so it is impossible to check how long they are durable.

On the upsides of choosing cotton canvas:

  • the price of cotton canvas is not as high as linen canvas;
  • at a good stretch it’s good and comfortable to write on cotton canvas;

If you talk about the drawbacks of cotton canvas, it’s worth noting:

  • it is subject to the accumulation of moisture.
  • is easily exposed to mechanical influence;
  • over time, the cotton canvas can sag.
  • Is it worth choosing a linen canvas?
  • Is it worth choosing linen canvas?

Having chosen a linen canvas you will repeat old masters who painted their masterpieces only on linen canvases. Flax has proved to be the best material for canvas. Paintings on linen canvases have been painted for centuries, unlike cotton which appeared as a canvas material not so long ago. The choice of linen canvas for painting is “noble” and the best among artists.

If we talk about the advantages of linen canvas, it is worth noting:

  • flax does not absorb moisture unlike cotton;
  • it’s less prone to sagging over time;
  • it’s not so exposed to mechanical damage;

What about the disadvantages? Are there disadvantages when choosing linen canvas? 

Yes, they do:

  • linen canvas is much more expensive than cotton canvas;
  • it weighs a little more than cotton (if we talk about exhibitions and mailing pictures);
  • Synthetic canvas, choose or not.
  • Synthetic canvas, choose or not.

I have to be honest, at the time of writing this article, I have never used synthetic fiber canvas. Moreover, in the shop where I buy my art materials, I have never seen a synthetic canvas. This is of course the trend of the new era in painting and most art salons do not yet risk bringing them. Artificial canvas – how you can choose this, will think most who read it. But time goes on, and as before no one could even think about good synthetic brushes, the same now with canvases.

Pros of synthetic canvases:

  • I don’t think anyone’s going to argue with the fact that synthetics don’t rot or absorb moisture;
  • synthetic canvas will be lighter than natural materials;
  • The minuses of synthetic canvases:
  • as artists say they have not passed the test of time;
  • few have practiced on them (I’ve never written on them myself), it’s hard to tell how it behaves when you write.
  • There are also combined canvases: cotton-flax, cotton-synthetics, I am personally skeptical about them. Different materials behave differently and combinations may not behave predictably.

There are three types of canvas grains:

  •  fine-grained canvas. Such canvases are distinguished by their almost smoothness, graininess of the canvas is very fine and it is not chosen by many people now. On such canvases it is good to write with glaze, applying one layer of paint for canvas after another. It’s a good choice if you want to paint a portrait.
  • the middle grain of the canvas. But the canvas with average grain size, for often one of the most popular. On such canvases it is convenient to write in paste, and also it is possible to write in glaze.
  • coarse-grained canvas is perfect for working as a mastichein. Such canvas holds texture painting well without visible deformation.

Which canvas is primed or not?

The choice is obvious, your canvas must be primed to be painted with oil paints. Not primed canvas is not suitable for writing, it is 100%. But as always you have a choice: to buy a primed canvas, or not primed and naturally primed it yourself. How? Shops sell art primer, which well.

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