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How to Choose the Best Artist Canvas

Canvas is a popular choice of substrate for many artists with all levels of experience as it is lightweight and the textures feel great to paint on. There are a wide variety of art canvas types available, from stretched linen and canvas boards to cotton or linen canvas rolls. If you’re unsure what will be the most suitable for your next project, here’s how to choose the best artist canvas.


The most common fabrics you will find used in art canvases are cotton or linen, cotton being the more affordable of these two options. Cotton duck canvas, which is a heavier, more tightly woven cotton, is one of the most common types of canvas and is great for painting with oils as well as acrylics

Linen is a more expensive option and, with its additional strength, quality and durability, is generally the type of canvas that professional artists prefer to use. Linen has longer fibres and is stiffer than cotton, making it more robust and difficult to stretch, but less likely to tear while you are perfecting your masterpiece. 

Stretched Canvas

Canvas that is tightly stretched over a frame is known as stretched canvas. They are ready for you to use straight away without you needing to. Stretched canvases come in various sizes and are available with either a standard edge or deep edge. 

Canvas Boards

Canvas boards are made by stretching canvas and attaching it over a solid base, which offers firm support. Canvas boards are much thinner than stretched canvas, which means they’re lighter to carry around and often preferable when painting outdoors or away from your home or studio. 

Canvas Rolls

If you’re planning on creating something that’s a bespoke size, or that you will need to roll up and transport, then you may need to purchase canvas from a roll, either by the metre or the full roll. You can purchase different weights which indicate the density of the thread. Canvases with a heavier weight are more suitable for work that requires lots of blending. 

Using canvas from a roll will require more work as you will need to prepare and stretch the canvas yourself. You will also need to explore which canvas stretcher will be most suitable for the artwork you want to create.  

The majority of canvases available are already pre-primed, saving you the trouble of doing it yourself, but you may prefer to use an unprimed canvas, which will give a less vibrant, more textured appearance to your artwork. You may also choose to add an additional layer of primer to a pre-primed canvas in order to create a less porous, smoother surface and improve the lifespan of your end product. 

Once you’ve decided which canvas is most suitable for you, all that’s left to do is create. It may take a few attempts to find the canvas that works best for you, but you’ll soon become a master! If you’re looking for alternative substrates that differ from canvas for your art projects, why not explore leather or wood?

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