What Canvas to Use for Oil Painting
Art galleries offer a wide range of stretched canvases for various painting needs, including cotton duck, artificial textiles, and linen. Grades and textures are also available. But which canvas is ideal for experimenting with different oil painting techniques, as well as which grade and texture are preferred?
Guide to Types of Canvases for Oil Painting
Fabric used in the art of painting is called a canvas. It has been woven together and can be rolled up or stretched over a frame. Most painters use either oil or acrylic paint to complete the work.
Oil paintings have been superseded by stretched canvas but you can still find some made with canvas. Canvas was traditionally made from the cannabis plant for its strong fibres, but is now often produced from linen or other natural fibers.
The term ‘cotton duck’ usually refers to a type of cotton strand. The material was first used for oil painting and derives its name from the Dutch word ‘doek,’ which means ‘cloth.’ Cotton is produced by the cotton plant and linen by the flax plant. Linen is considered superior to cotton in quality, but they both come from different plants and cannot be similar in nature.
Canvases to Avoid
When buying a canvas, it's worth checking for aspects like loose weaving (possibly due to poor quality cotton) that could compromise the overall quality.
The fabric's level of elasticity can give you a pretty good indication as to how well it will stretch. You can expect the fabric's pattern to lose definition while taut, so it'll be way more prone to warps after it's been placed on a stretcher.
A loose weave will make the canvas material more unstable, which can cause distortions. Once a canvas has been stretched, it's impossible to correct this issue
Good Quality Canvases for Oil Painting
Linen fabric is considered superior in quality to cotton; both come from different plants. Linen used for textiles has a much lighter feel and is more popular for the professional art world. Cotton duck is becoming more affordable and widely-used because it is cheaper to produce. This cloth has a wider range of stretch and a more mechanical weave pattern. However, what ultimately matters are the robustness of the fabric and the tightness of the weave. The canvas ‘support’ must be properly sized with gesso or artist’s primer before embarking on the oil painting.
Gesso is traditionally made with chalk and rabbit skin glue, but acrylic artist's primer can also be used. Each coat acts to flatten the canvas and keep some of the texture while adding a protective layer. The size will also create a sufficiently solid surface for the oil painting, more essential still once the blank canvas is stretched. Important note: Without this important layer, the oil in the paint will sink into the fabric and rot it. This will not only cause a painting to look really bad, but also won't last too long
The Best Canvas for Portraiture or Landscapes
Blank canvases are available in different grades, ranging from fine to coarse. The density of a canvas is determined by the thickness and quality of its weave, and measurements are given in ounces per square inch. Starting from 1, which describes coarse-grain (heaviest) canvas, the finest grain can be found in 12. However, art stores typically use the labels "coarse","medium", and" fine" to describe texture. Fine-grain blank canvas might be a good choice for detailed painting because it offers a smaller texture for the paint to fill in, which makes it easy for artists to create more detailed paintings. A small amount of paint is needed to express brush marks
Canvas Choices for the Artist
Blank canvas glued onto a flat surface such as a piece of plywood or panel is an option for artists who dislike the ‘give’ of canvas. It can be made at home with fabric or linen and does not require any special tools. Simply glue the fabric onto a firm surface such as a hardboard or panel. You have the option to use fabric such as polo shirts. Avoid dyed fabric or those with patterns. I used PVA glue, but as it is not fully water resistant, I'll apply a thin layer of adhesive onto the surface, cover it up with fabric then stretch the fabric over the panel
Prepare a canvas for oil paintings by applying the acrylic-glue mixture once stretched, before applying the final coat of primer. This will tighten up and form a tough and firm surface in order to prepare it. Making your own canvas board also provides more options and variety as an artist
Great Canvases for Artists
Choosing the right kind of canvas (or "support") is important for a successful oil painting. Canvas is available in linen, cotton duck or synthetic fabric. Canvases are often stretched over a frame, but can also be glued onto a panel, or the texture embossed onto paper.
Different canvas weights are often denoted with numbers ranging from 1 for the coarsest to 12 for the finest. Fine-grain canvas is an ideal choice for artwork with finer details or a high level of detail.
Those looking for a rough, textured surface would find it best on coarse canvas. The artist must always prepare a blank canvas with gesso before applying paint. Canvases must always be properly prepared with a gesso prior to applying the oil paint.
Where to Buy Art Supplies for Painting
You can find all the supplies you need for your next artwork at our online store. We have a variety of primary colour paint bottles, canvases, paint brushes as well as a table top easel and large wooden palette in stock
Looking for Paint Night Party Supplies?
- WHITE BLANK CANVAS: 5/8" Solid wood stretched, 280g Premium Cotton Duck which comes in multiple sizes:
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- 16" x 20" (40.6cm x 50.8cm) - LOW STOCK
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