Types of canvas
There are 3 types, three treatments
As any budding artist will tell you, when you go to your local art store or browse the canvas surface section of any online retailer or your local store or shop. “in the budding stage” or “in the early stages”. It means to be in the process of development or growth, particularly in the artistic field, referring to someone who is starting their career or exploring their creative potential. There are different sized canvas surfaces, but you will also have to decide between stretched canvas, panels, ‘professional’ canvas, canvas rolls, unprimed vs. primed, and more.
Painters work with a variety of types of paint. Each type of paint requires a specific coating. There are three types of canvas. An oil canvas is intended solely for oil paint. Absorbent canvases are intended for tempera. Universal canvases are suitable for both oil paint and acrylic paint.
Each type of artist’s canvas is given a specific treatment after glueing.
Common Types of canvas
Cotton canvas is an affordable option for painters who are just starting out. A properly prepared cotton canvas will last a long time (and it’s what you’ll find in any of your Painting to Gogh kits). It’s naturally flexible and durable and is often primed with acrylic primer.
Linen is made from flax and is more durable, rigid, and longer-lasting than cotton. It’s also the more expensive option. Linen canvas is often primed with oil-based primers and doesn’t warp as much over time, so it’s the go-to choice of many professional artists. You don’t have to worry about this type of canvas becoming too brittle either as linen retains its natural oils.
Canvas board is another common option for new and student painters. Some are made of primed cotton canvas that’s stretched over a fiberboard, while others are simply a board that’s been primed and stamped to have the texture of canvas. They’re cheaper and great for practicing before you start on your canvas art piece.
For an ‘oil canvas’, zinc white is used as the primer, bound with linseed oil. After that the canvas is put into a drying room for three days where it air-dries naturally. After that, we sand the canvas again and apply a coating layer based on titanium white. The canvas then has to go back into the drying room for a further ten days.
‘Absorbent canvases’ are given two primer layers of chalk, bound with glue based on rabbit skins. Because this primer is water based, these canvases can be dried in the hot-air oven, where the water can evaporate more quickly.
‘Universal canvases’ undergo the same drying process in a hot-air over as the absorbent canvases, but the two primer layers are titanium white based.
Our reference numbers are prefixed with a number that specifies the treatment. If these canvases are untreated they carry the number 0 (e.g. 066), universal canvases carry the number 1 (e.g. 166) and absorbent canvases the number 2 (e.g. 266). Oil canvases, in contrast, carry no prefix number (e.g. 66).
Most of the treatments are done by machine, but according to traditional methods. For pieces that are wider than the standard size (210 cm), and for special types of artist’s canvas, we will go so far as to perform the entire process manually. The maximum length of manually prepared artist’s canvas is 40 metres.
Painting canvas processes
If canvas will be used for painting, it is stretched around a wooden frame before gesso is applied. This stretching process ensures that the canvas forms a perfectly taut and flat painting surface. Expert canvas stretching also ensures that the warp and weft threads in the canvas form a perfect grid.
9 Tips for Painting on Canvas
- Angle Your Canvas To Paint Comfortably
First, decide whether you’ll be seated or standing when you paint. Many easels are easy to adjust so you can switch between both. Adjust your easel based on your height and how comfortable it is to hold the brush up to the canvas. For some painting techniques, you want to be able to make contact with the canvas at a 90-degree angle. Make sure you can easily see your painting subject, whether it’s a video tutorial, a drawing, or a real-life object.
- Take Advantage of Canvas Wedges
If you received a little packet of wood or plastic pieces with your store-bought canvas, they’re called canvas wedges, canvas tightening keys, or stretcher bar keys. They’re used to stretch and tighten the canvas if it starts to sag. Canvas can get droopy from all the layers of wet paint, temperature changes, humidity, and age. If you notice sagginess after painting, wait until your canvas is completely dry and hammer the wedges in afterward.
- Sketch Your Image or Underpaint
You know the saying, “Measure twice, cut once?” Set yourself up for success by sketching your image before you start laying down paint. Grab a pencil, color pencil, or charcoal and make a sketch on a piece of paper. This is a helpful tip for any painting, but here’s the great thing about canvas: You can use a pencil (graphite) to lightly outline your art on the canvas and then paint over it. Another technique is to do an “underpainting” or “wash,” which is when you use very watered down paint to make a rough sketch. Both tips give you more control over the final image. You can simply follow the lines as you go and you know it’ll be closer to what you want (compared to a freehanded attempt).
- Lay Out Your Supplies Before You Get Started
The last thing you want is to be running around trying to find a Round 6 brush or more paper towels while you’re in the creative zone. Once you start painting, you want everything you need within arms’ reach so that you don’t lose inspiration or have your paint dry too much while you’re hunting for supplies. Gather up your brushes, necessary paint colors (black, white, red, blue, and yellow are usually the minimum), paint palette, a cup of water, paper towels, and anything else you think you’re going to need.
- Use Paintbrushes With Firm, Tough Bristles
The paint brushes you choose have to be able to withstand the hard, rough canvas surface. So, look for brushes with stiff bristles that are graded for acrylic and oil painting. Avoid grabbing any watercolor brushes you have lying around — they’re known for being softer and are going to break down rather quickly when used on canvas. A bonus to using firm-bristle brushes? They make it easier to do unique acrylic painting techniques like dry brushstrokes.
- Start With a Toned Canvas To Add a Unique Quality
Who says you have to start your painting on a plain white canvas? Try a toned background: Simply choose an interesting color, paint the canvas, let it dry, and then start on your artwork. It can make colors pop and enhance the painting’s luminosity. For example, if you’re going to paint a lovely blue sky, you could start out by painting the canvas with a bright yellow. It may seem scary, but the yellow undertone could add a sunlit warmth to everything in your painting. The fun is in experimenting with different colors to see what effect it has. Check out color wheels and color theory to get some ideas.
- Get Creative With Solvents and Mediums
Canvas is extremely durable, which means you can use a wide variety of mediums (products that can thicken and change the texture of paint) and solvents (products that thin paint out and clean paint brushes) to have fun with the look of your artwork. When it comes to acrylic paint, you’re likely going to use water as your solvent. You can apply different mediums to make your painting look glossy, matte, transparent, 3D, and more. These tools give you the freedom to experiment and see what you come up with.
- Easily Erase Mistakes With Water, Titanium White, or Sandpaper
Painter Bob Ross once said, “We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.” So, if your canvas experiences a “happy little accident,” don’t worry. You can use water, titanium white paint, or sandpaper to fix painting mistakes fairly easily. If your painting is still wet: Try scraping off the unwanted paint with your palette knife or something with a sharp edge. Apply some water (or linseed oil for oil paints), wipe the rest away, and paint over with titanium white. Let it dry and then keep painting.
- If your painting is dry: Use fine sandpaper to gently grind down the area with unwanted paint. Use a damp towel with water (for acrylics) or linseed oil (for oils) to clean the area and paint over with titanium white. Let it dry and then keep painting.
- Choose a Safe Place To Dry and Store Your Canvas When You’re Done
The last thing that you want is for your new painting to get ruined while it dries! Find a location for the canvas to dry out of harm’s way, away from any water sources, heat sources, small children, or curious pets.