Canvases: What You Need To Know

Different canvas materials:1. Cotton duck canvasThis is the cheapest and most commonly used type of canvas. Don’t let its name mislead you – it’s got nothing to do with ducks. You’ll find that cotton duck canvas comes in a variety of weights and weaves – the weight refers of a canvas refers to how thick it is, whereas the weave refers to how tightly the individual threads are woven together. The cheaper canvases have threads that are more loosely woven. The problem with this is that canvases that are too loosely woven can become distorted if you try to stretch them yourself, so take care when doing this. Cotton duck canvas tends to have a rough texture because the threads aren’t woven together that tightly; if you want to use this type of canvas but prefer a smoother surface, simply apply gesso or some other primer to the surface before painting.

2. Linen canvasLinen is a more expensive option than cotton duck canvas. This is because the threads are finer and they’re woven together a lot more tightly. Linen is considered by many to be the best type of canvas. With linen, you get a much smoother surface to paint on, which is better if you’re doing a painting that has lots of fine details. Linen is also very long-lasting and shouldn’t cause problems once it’s been stretched and primed because the fabric holds together very well.3. Synthetic canvasThere are lots of different types of synthetic canvas available. This is because pretty much any synthetic material can be used as a support for a painting, provided it’s strong enough. A lot of artists don’t like using synthetic canvases because of the fact they’re not natural and because their longevity hasn’t yet been proven.Different forms of canvas:1. Stretched canvasYou can buy canvases that have already been stretched. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes – this makes it easier if you’re buying frames. However if you’re stretching a canvas yourself, you might not be able to find a frame the right size. Most of the time, pre-stretched canvases will have already been primed, though it wouldn’t hurt to apply a few extra layers of gesso or another primer. Most pre-primed canvases are suitable for both acrylics and oils, though it’s always sensible to double-check.2. Canvas boardsCanvas boards are made by gluing canvas materials to sturdy boards. If the canvas board is made well, it should provide a firm and textured support for you to work on. Some of the very cheap canvas boards are put together in such a way that they can get damaged more easily. Canvas boards generally don’t last that long, so they’re probably better for practising. They can be easily transported and they’re quite light.

3. Canvas rollsCanvas rolls are the cheapest of the three options, though in many ways they’re the hardest to use. As the name suggests, they come in rolls: this means you have to mount it to stretcher bars to keep it still so it’s ready to be painted on. Canvas rolls are therefore great for those who enjoy the process of preparing all their materials themselves. Because you can cut them to whatever size you want they’re great if you don’t want to be confined to set sizes. The rolls are very easy to carry as well.

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