Best Canvas For Painting: My Recommendations
So you’ve got your supplies, your paints, brushes what have you, now what are you going to paint on exactly? Why a canvas of course!!
Back in the old days a lot of artists stretched their own – to be honest, some modern day artists do too Some work is involved, that. But we are a long way this side of working smarter and not harder, and most of us purchase the kind of canvas that is already stretched and ready to go.
If you’re just starting out, all that legwork I described above is a skill for another time. Let’s get to the meat and potatoes of choosing the best canvas for painting-whether you’re taking classes or exploring a new hobby.
What Should You Look For in an Artist Canvas?
A quality artist canvas will be stretched, primed, read “cotton duck” on the label-that’s the gist of it, mainly. Bob Ross used to say on his show The Joy of Painting that a good canvas is “tough as nails” One thing I have noticed lately is that canvases are a little more lightweight than they used to be.
There are a wide range of brands to choose from, but my most preferred brands are Fredrix and Windsor & Newton. They still are rated the most favorably by myself and others. Brand names notwithstanding, always look to be sure that: 1) the frame is sturdy and not warped, 2) no loose staples are showing 3) clean surface with no evidence of yellowing, and finally 4) a smooth surface with a slight “tooth” to it.
Most canvases have stapled edges, but some are designed with “staple-free” edges. They are, rest assured, very secure – they are bound together differently. I have never had cause for concern. The bottom one shown in the picture above is one of these , as you can see the staples are applied to the back instead.
Gallery Wrapped Canvases
If you are looking for a strong canvas that will stand the test of time look no further than the “gallery wrapped” artist canvas! I think they got their name due to the fact that they were designed with the intent of frameless displaying without compromising on appearance. They’re very sturdy, making the chances of getting out of shape much slimmer.
In addition, because you don’t need to frame them; they weigh much less and you can get to the fun part of hanging your finished canvas wall art soon after!
As such, they do cost a little more – but totally worth it, as not only do you not need to deal with framing/wires/hangers, etc. (well, perhaps the latter) you can also paint the perimeter, too-you can let your prospective art design bleed onto it (a very popular technique) or paint it a different color altogether!
Artist Canvas Panels
There is another surface type that is easy to work with and that is artist canvas panels. They are a flat, non-stretched, you guessed it – panel. At best they are an eighth of an inch thick but sturdy enough to stand up to whatever mediums you plan on using. Although I do like them in general, they have 2 small disadvantages:
♥ One, they will require a frame eventually (if you plan on displaying or selling your work one day)
♥ Two, they have a tendency to warp – more so with the larger sizes. However, I have had a few 11 by 14s to do this on occasion.
Panels are sold in bundles, usually like 2-3 in a pack. I got them every now and then, and always stuck to 14″ or smaller.
If I was working in oils I had to be careful not to handle them early in the game, as the edges were (obviously) still wet 🙂
Canvas sheets are the minimalist version of their stretched counterpart. They are usually sold like a “sketch pad” in which X number of sheets are bound together and you just tear out one at a time. I did buy one of these once and although they took paint well you definitely need some kind of special clipboard kind of workspace to clamp them in place…I don’t feel like they are newbie-friendly at all, just my 2 cents worth.
Additional Styles and Shapes
Sometimes canvases come in unique designs and shapes. One unique style I have seen is the Convexo. Basically the border edge has a convex design which makes the canvas have a built-in framed appearance naturally. The Convexo style is available in ovals as well as the standard rectangle/square shape.
Sometimes canvases are round or oval. I have only one oval…Personally I don’t care for elliptical sizes as they limit my ideas a little. but that’s just me 🙂 The quality is still good and also has the Convexo option too.
Where to buy artist canvas online?
No art supplier in your vicinity? Not a problem as you can find some great deals on canvases online. Sometimes you can get “value packs” with 3 or more canvases in unique sizes. You can also save on shipping and handling by getting them in multiples or bundles.
A size like 30″ by 40″ is pretty big and more likely to warp if it goes through some rough bumps in transit, because of its girth overall, and not reflective so much on the part of its handler. If you prefer those big sizes and insist on them it is best to choose the gallery wrap as the quality will be much better long-term.
I hope this will be helpful for all you budding Picassos out there. I know this was a lot of info to digest, but to sum up: stretched canvases are reasonably priced and they have a good number of size and style variations, for the larger sizes it is best to choose that 1 1/2″ thick “gallery” style as the price will be well worth it, as well as perfect for newbies and pros alike.
♥Just get out there and start painting and have fun, that is what matters the most!♥
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