Learn about the types of canvas for painting! One of the most relaxing and rewarding crafts is painting. There are many different ways to express your creativity with painting and come away with a uniquely stunning piece. You may be an expert painter or just starting out, but understanding the different art supplies and their functions will help you achieve the perfectly painted end result! Even if you don't know how to paint, there are many tutorials that you can follow that will help you to unleash your inner artist.
Types of Canvas for Painting - Best for You
Before you try to understand the different types of canvas you can find in the market, it is essential to understand what makes a canvas suitable for the project you're looking to do. A canvas is usually made of fabric, and there are a few different fabrics that are used. The texture and priming also differ from canvas to canvas and can affect how your paint lays and dries on the surface.
Material Types of Canvas for Painting
All the canvases currently available in-store and online are made from either cotton or linen. Both of these fabrics have their pros and cons and, depending on what you will use to paint the canvas, this feature can be a crucial choice you need to make while selecting your canvas.
A cotton canvas is the one most of us have used when painting. It is very economical and is mass-produced across the Americas, Africa, and India. Cotton canvases stretch very quickly since the fibers are soft and fluffy. If you're looking for a smooth surface without much texture, a cotton canvas will be an excellent option for you since it has a very consistent weave.
Acrylic paint is one of the most commonly used paints for applying onto a cotton canvas. Acrylic paints are easy to work with on cotton canvas and dry very quickly. Use a brush or palette knife to apply the acrylic paint onto the canvas. If you want to branch out, you can try oils and watercolor paints too.
The linen fabric that painting canvas is made from originates from Western Europe and is usually the more expensive of the two options. Linen is a very durable fabric and is strong and long-lasting. If you want to stretch the linen canvas yourself over a frame, account for some tightening to ensure your frame doesn't snap. If you're looking for longevity with painting oils, a linen canvas is excellent. But, if you're new to painting, maybe get a bit more experience before purchasing a linen canvas.
Texture - Types of Canvas for Painting
We've already discussed the texture type that a canvas can have, depending on what fabric it's made from. There is, however, more to it than just that. A lot of the cotton canvases at your local art store will be textured, allowing for more range when it comes to your starting surface.
A smooth or fine canvas is usually suitable for more minor detailed work where you need your brush to just slick over the surface. A smooth surface is generally used for many portrait work as it allows for a smoother skin effect. Smooth or fine canvases are available in a variety of ranges. You can find no-grain and extra-fine canvases to fine-grain and medium-grain canvases.
A textured canvas will have slight bumps or a patterned weave on the surface. Whether you paint with oils or acrylics, there will be certain spots where the paint will stick to the raised bumps and add more texture to the overall look of your painting. There is also a chance that paint might skip over the bumps, and you will have a few white-colored spots showing through. A textured canvas is excellent for bigger brush strokes where you want more depth and want the brush strokes to be a noticeable feature.
Primed vs Un-Primed Types of Canvas for Painting
Many white canvases that you will see in the art supply stores are already primed with what is called Gesso. Gesso is a mixture of plaster of Paris, glue, and chalk or pigment. Un-primed canvases are also available but may be harder to find at your average art supply store.
Primed Types of Canvas for Painting
An oil-primed canvas can only be used with oil paints. The oil-prime process can take a few weeks to set and finish. After 2-3 weeks of drying, the canvas is then ready for use. Oil-prime canvases cannot be used for acrylic paints as the paint will eventually peel off the oil-primed canvas.
Universal prime is a canvas that has been primed with multiple thin layers of acrylic primer. These canvases can be pretty much used with acrylics, watercolors, or even oils.
Un-Primed Types of Canvas for Painting
As the name suggests, un-primed canvases are plain sheets of cotton or linen fabric that have no treatment. There are different primers available for oils and different ones for acrylics. If you want to prime your own canvas at home, you can do so easily as well. It does require a certain level of experience so only do so if you feel well enough equipped.
Types of Canvas for Painting
Now that we have learned what features you should be looking for in a canvas, we can talk about the different types of canvas that you will find at your local art store. When you're looking for a successful end result for your painting, understanding the varieties of canvases available is just as important as knowing the type of features that you can find.
Stretched canvases are the most common type of canvas that you will find. They are usually stretched over a wooden frame. This wooden frame is made up of stretcher bars and helps hold the canvas as tightly as possible. These canvases are great for acrylics and are usually made from cotton fabric. These canvases can be primed easily for oils and come in a range of fine and textured finishes. These canvases also come in various thicknesses, where a thicker canvas is better for unframed art pieces, and thinner ones are good for framed art pieces.
One of the central classification systems for canvas is a graded number system. Grade 1 is the heaviest weight of canvas and 12 the lightest. The other classification system is by weight – ounces per square yard or grams per square meter.
Canvas panels are usually made from a primed cotton canvas sheet that is mounted onto a rigid board. These panels are great for beginners and offer a great surface to practice your painting skills on. These panels are more affordable than stretched canvases but have the same high quality. They are lightweight and easy to carry around, so if you're a student or a traveling artist, they are an excellent option for you. They are available in many different sizes and shapes. While they are great in terms of quality, they don't last as long or age as well as stretched canvases.
Something for the experienced painters out there, canvas rolls are pretty much just rolls of canvas. For painters that prefer to stretch their own canvases, this type of canvas is the best option. Canvas rolls can be made from linen or cotton, are available in several weights and textures, and can be found primed or un-primed. Again, these are more suited to more experienced painters, especially those who like making bigger art pieces.
If you're looking to get some canvas sheets that are not in roll form, canvas pads can be a great option for you. Again, these are more suited to experienced painters since they do need to be stretched at home. Canvas pads have primed canvas sheets that are stacked in a spiral-bound book and can be taken out and mounted as you see fit. If you are a beginner or student, you can use canvas pads as practice notebooks while you can get used to painting on a canvas. They don't last as long as stretched canvases but do provide a good way to improve your painting skills, barring the stretching that may be harder for beginners to do themselves.
Types of Canvas for Painting – In Conclusion
Whether you are an experienced painter or a beginner, understanding the different types of canvas that you can find will make a huge difference in how your painting ends up. Canvas features such as the fabric type, the surface texture, and whether a primer has been used are all important to the success of your art piece. When selecting from the different kinds of canvas, always do your research and check out the options before deciding what suits your project needs and pocket. More expensive will not always mean a better end result and that is something this article and your research will help you figure out.