Different Types of Art Canvas

Canvas painting is one of the most beautiful forms of art in today’s culture. It is an art form that dates back to before the discovery of America, and has since captured the hearts of many artists through out the ages and around the globe.

While early canvas painters preferred Venetian sailing canvas as the highest quality painting surface, artists today are presented with a wide variety of canvases to choose from for each masterpiece they create. The paints and brushes used both play a huge factor in the kind of material desired for a particular project.

The medium on which a painter will employ his brush can be classified in several ways. First, they can be classified by the material used to make it. These materials are usually either cotton, linen, or a synthetic fiber. Let’s take a look at them…

Cotton Duck

Contrary to the name, this kind of painting surface really has nothing to do with ducks. It is, however, one of the least expensive and most readily available canvases on the market. This canvas comes in a variety of weights and weaves, meaning that there are different grades of fiber thickness used for the weave, and also varying the weave counts as well.

Cotton duck is generally one of the more popular surfaces for colors due to its low cost.


This kind of art surface is usually much preferred over the aforementioned variety (at least in terms of how well the colors will stick to the surface) because it contains finer threads and a higher thread count in the weave.

Linen is much less likely to shrink or warp after painting and after being released from the frame; likewise, it comes either primed or unprimed. The unprimed variety will be a brownish hue, compared to the primed pieces.

Synthetic Fiber

Synthetic fibers are making a desperate effort to become the new rage for the art world and all art brushes.

Most synthetically manufactured fibers simply do not hold up well under the paints and heavy colors used today.

Besides this, they are actually nothing more than specialized fabric, and these quite simply are not designed to bear the weight of both the primer and colors splashed all over their surface.

If you use a synthetic fiber, make sure that the finished product has a good support so as to prevent it from sagging.

Besides being classified by what material they are made from, art canvases can also be classified according to how they are sold. You can buy your surface in many different ways, including on boards, on rolls, primed, or unprimed.

The different materials are suitable for different colors and paints so be sure you understand exactly what you are painting on.


Panelled canvas is mainly used by beginners, due to its low cost.

Basically, these panels are nothing more than a heavy duty card panel over which has been stretched a piece of the fabric, most often cotton duck. They usually have a low thread count (making them very coarse for accepting paints) and are not usually used by professional and famous painters.


Pre-stretched canvases are also available, and they could be considered a step up from the panelled variety.

Buying your canvases pre-stretched is actually one of the most expensive way to purchase them, but it saves the artist plenty of time in that it is already set. The pieces are usually mounted on what are known as “stretcher bars” and are sold in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Differing fabrics that are prestretched will accept paints and colors differently, so you should be aware and choose your fabric accordingly.


Lastly, you can easily buy rolls of canvas and easily stretch it yourself.

The rolls generally come in sizes of either 5 or 10 meters long and between 1 to 1.6 meters wide. This is enough surface for several projects. Stretching it yourself means that you will be paying less for your supplies which allows you to spend more on your brushes and paints; however, it also means that you will spend yet more time preparing your surfaces for the paints, instead of simply painting on a pre-stretched surface.

Despite this difficulty, buying your canvas on rolls also allows you to customize the size of your painting. So if you are looking to save a few pennies and have extra time to spare, consider getting rolls of canvas for your studio and dedicating a few days to simply stretching the canvas for your future projects.

Once you have stretched your canvases to perfection, you can pull out your brushes and begin a masterpiece… Or pull out the brush and simply practice. :)

The world of paints, their colors, and their surfaces for artistic inspiration is simply fascinating. Perhaps one of the most beautiful aspects of painting is the sheer variety of every tool needed to accomplish things.

There is variety in brushes – their shape, length, use, and more. Every painter knows that there is a nearly infinite palette of colors awaiting his brush.

Underneath it all, a fascinating array of canvases awaits the first stroke of the brush.

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