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How to Choose the Right Canvas for Painting?

The quality of the future painting depends not only on the skill of the artist, the chosen brushes and paints, but also on the basis for painting. It is this factor that determines how comfortable you will work and how long your future masterpiece will live. Where to buy canvas and what are the criteria for choosing them? Canvas for painting is not just a fabric, it is a special art material. Its main characteristics: base, fabric, grain size, density, quality of the primer, must meet a number of specific requirements. Not every canvas can withstand the weight of paints and the test of time.

Differences in Fabric Types

Regarding canvas for painting, artists use different fabrics from natural, synthetic, mixed fibers for their work, but they are not equally suitable for painting.

Cotton canvas is a guarantee of pleasant work. It is a very docile and fairly durable material. Pros: Smooth and soft surface with a fine texture, has a white-cream shade. With a good stretch, such a canvas is easy to use and costs less than a linen canvas. Cons: Easily absorbs moisture, may mold. Over time, it can sag or warp (on the stretcher).

Linen canvases are made from flax stem fibers, so they have a characteristic gray or yellowish tint. Linen is a very durable material, resistant to deformation and mechanical damage, perfectly retains its texture and shape, so the quality of the pattern does not suffer in any way. Pros: the canvas does not absorb moisture and does not sag, retains the original grain well. Cons: more expensive, weighs more than cotton or synthetics.

Artist Canvas Grain

This is another important characteristic of painting canvas to look out for when you decide to buy canvas. Granularity is also called texture, this is the thickness of the thread from which the material is woven. An unprimed high-quality canvas has the same texture on the front and back sides.

Fine-grained fabric (density 200-300 g / m2) has an almost smooth surface. It is suitable for portraits, miniatures and works in other genres, where the finest color transitions and detailed painting are required. It is also convenient for the glaze technique when the paint is applied in translucent layers.

Medium-grain canvas (density 300-400g / m2) is a versatile option, since it is suitable for most works of different formats. It is a great choice for aspiring painters.

Coarse-grained canvases (density 500-600 g / m2) are the basis for large works painted with thick paints, since they hold the thick paint layer well. It is convenient to work on them with a palette knife. Take into account that their texture will be visible through the paint.

Practical Tips When Choosing a Canvas

  1. When you need to buy artist canvas, be sure to check if there are any weaving defects on the canvas (knots, gaps, protruding threads, irregularities, etc.) that will interfere with gluing, priming, and paint application, and in the future destroy the paint layer.
  2. All sides of the canvas should be well primed. If there are gaps, the paint will fall off quickly. For landscapes, it is better to take a canvas in which the primer has a natural shade - beige, brown.
  3. For beginners, it is better to avoid coarse-grained canvases, since the gaps need to be sealed or primed additionally.
  4. If the canvas is on a stretcher, measure the width of the strip. For canvases with the largest side up to 50 cm, the width of each slat should be at least 4 cm. For larger sizes, the minimum slat width is at least 5.5 cm. For large canvases, cross slats are required.
  5. It is recommended that the stretcher be modular, the kit should include special pegs to adjust the canvas tension. If the canvas is stretched correctly, then on a flat horizontal surface it will lie tightly at all four corners. If it sways, then this means that it is skewed, it is better to refuse the purchase.