One of the most important steps in creating the artwork is choosing the right canvas that can enhance your painting and last long. Especially when you put a lot of effort and resources into making your painting look good. You do not want your painting to deteriorate very soon.
Before knowing about how to choose the right canvas you need to acquire some knowledge about canvas itself.
Canvas is the most commonly used medium to paint on. There are different types of canvas available depending on their traits like weight, fabric, texture, size, material etc. Some canvases are long-lasting; some are more expensive than others.
The word canvas is derived from the Latin word cannabis which means made of hemp. Hemp is a fabric used to make a sailboat. With the advent of the Renaissance era, many artists started using canvas for making their paintings instead of wood panels. The popularity of canvas increased rapidly because canvases are lighter and they are also easily portable. They are also easily rolled and also there is less chance of warping or cracking. Another important factor that led to the popularity of canvas used as a medium for art is that we can work on it in a humid environment, which is not possible on wooden panels.
Here are some of the important factors you should consider before choosing the canvas.
A) Choose according to your purpose- Choose the canvas according to your needs and the purpose of the painting you are going to make. If you are a beginner and going to paint only for the purpose of learning and experimenting then you don’t need to spend on an expensive canvas.
On the other hand, if you are going to create a masterpiece or a mesmerizing painting that you want to display in an exhibition or sell to an art collector then you must choose an expensive and smoother canvas.
B) According to material- Generally canvas is made from two materials cotton and linen.
- Cotton- Cotton canvases are easily stretchable and also remain tight on the stretcher bars. It is also easily affordable and economical. The cotton canvas is not as stiff as compared to linen, so you can easily stretch across the canvas. Cotton duck canvases are one of the most common canvases used and it is also more tightly woven than cotton canvas. So if your painting is not very large and has less weight then you can choose the cotton canvas.
- Linen- Linen is strong and expensive as compared to cotton canvases. Linen is made from longer fibres and it is not easy to stretch across the canvas. If you are making a painting that can last long, durable, retains natural oil content and less prone to moisture then you should choose linen canvas for painting. Linen is more expensive because it is hard to weave the linen into the fabric because of its inelastic nature in the process of making the linen canvas. Linen canvases also come in many varieties from smooth to immensely rough.
C) Check quality- It is really important to check the quality and examines the imperfections that may create problems with your painting later on. For example, examine the material of the canvas; see if there is sagging or discoloration in the material. Try to avoid a canvas whose stretcher bars are made with very weak wood and if the canvas is not stapled on the back.
Also, make sure that the canvas should have at least two layers of primer. It is really beneficial for the enhancement of the painting.
D) According to painting surface- You can consider these options while deciding about the painting surface.
- Stretched canvas- Stretched canvases are pre-stretched and already primed. You just have to unwrap it and start painting, it is also available at reasonable price and in a variety of sizes. For better absorbance give a coat of gesso to the canvas before starting to paint.
- Canvas panels- If you are a beginner, a student who wants to start learning painting then you can choose canvas panels. Canvas panels are cheap and made by gluing the cotton or linen material on the rigid or wooden board panels. It is easily portable and cheap as compared to stretched canvas. However one of the drawbacks of canvas panels is that they are not long-lasting and degrade with time.
- Canvas rolls- In Canvas rolls you need to stretch your own canvas and mount it on stretcher bars. As it sounds it is a roll of canvas. It takes proper skills to stretch this canvas before the foundation.