Are you a complete beginner when it comes to painting with either oil or acrylics? Painting is a great way to express yourself and have fun while doing so.
However, besides good paints and brushes, using a high-quality canvas is essential to get the results you want.
In this article, we will go over everything you need to know about painting on canvas before you get started.
Canvas Painting 101
You can paint on many different surfaces besides the traditionally used canvas if you are using good quality oil paint or acrylic paint, such as paper, wood, plastic and in some cases even metal. A canvas can come in all sizes and shapes, but the term normally refers to a kind of woven fabric. Cotton canvasses and linen canvasses being the best for oil painting and are normally used in combination with an art easel. Besides the material and the size of the canvas, you want to consider the following things when buying a new canvas.
- Stretched or unstretched: canvas can come in different ways, such as stretched on a wooden frame, a big roll or sometimes even as pads. Stretched ones normally form the best canvas for oil painting for beginners since the stretching is already done for you. The only downside is that you can only buy stretched canvas certain standard sizes and they are normally rectangular shaped. If you need anything else, you will have to buy unstretched canvas and make it yourself.
- Texture: since canvas can be made from different materials through a variety of different methods, every canvas comes with a different degree of roughness. If you use rough textured canvas you might be able to still see the texture even after applying. Although this can sometimes result in very interesting effects, more often than not it’s not what you want. Normally you want a texture that is not too rough to prevent any problems and allow your oil paint brushes or acrylic paint brushes to smoothly move over the surface.
- Primed or unprimed: to prevent the paint from sinking into the fibers unevenly and leaving ugly blotches, the canvas often needs to be primed with a layer of gesso. Especially canvas with a rather rough texture benefits from one or two layers of gesso. Fortunately, most canvases for sale nowadays are already primed when you buy them. If you are a looking for the best canvas for oil painting for beginners, make sure to look for a primed canvas.
Types of Painting Canvas
1. Canvas Panel
For most beginners, the canvas multipack by US Art Supply, which includes 24 panels that are all 100% pure cotton and acid-free, will be a good start. These panels are already primed with Gesso so you can directly start applying your oil paints or acrylic paint. The best thing is that the 24 panels come in 4 different sizes: 6-5″x7″, 6-8″x10″, 6-9″x12″, 6-11″x14″. The small ones are perfect for practice or portraiture, while the bigger ones can be used for elaborate landscape drawings. So all you need to do is take out those best oil paints you chose and start painting!
For most beginner artists that work with acrylics, we would recommend buying a set from Artlicious. You can choose from a variety of sets that contain 6 to 48 canvases and you can choose from sizes ranging from 4 x 4 inch to 11 x 14 inch. They are made entirely from cotton and best of all, they are already primed and stretched for you. They are ideal for working with acrylics but can also be used with oil paint or tempera. Additionally, they are completely acid-free so you don’t need to worry about discoloration of your art over the years.
2. Canvas Roll
For the creatives amongst us, you can try to stretch your own canvas using a roll of canvas from Nasco. This 7-ounce roll will get you canvas equalling an area of 6 yards by 62 inches. However, since this canvas is unprimed you have to make sure to buy gesso and a frame as well. If you don’t know how to stretch canvas yet, you can easily take an oil painting class online or some online acrylic painting lessons that will teach you.
3. Canvas Pad
Finally, if you are just looking to do some practice, then a canvas pad such as the one offered by Fredrix will be good enough. Canvas pads are similar to a regular drawing pad. They are ideal for painting outdoors since they are easy to transport and lightweight. One pad contains 10 sheets that are acid-free and primed.