Canvas: Learn to choose the right canvases

Canvases choose the correct canvas

Stroke your own story!

Painting on canvases is a classic mode of representation. For centuries, it has proved to be an exceptionally comfortable medium for artists to convey their art owing to its longevity and rich texture. The fact that its popularity is equally appealing to the eyes of the elite and the commoner has encouraged many passionate artists, including beginners, to switch from paper to canvas.

When it comes to canvases, train yourself to be picky!

Varieties of canvases

Every artist has their way of interpreting their painting, and choosing the right canvas affects the outcome. 

Choosing canvases on the basis of material

 Canvas is available in mainly two materials :

Cotton Duck Canvas: If you are an amateur, cotton canvas proves to be an apt choice. It’s prime advantages being its economical nature and its ability to stretch easily – meaning that its elasticity makes working on the canvas easy. On the other hand, not many artists prefer using cotton duck canvas because of its flexibility.

Linen Canvas: Well established painters like Caravaggio, Michelangelo used thick linen canvas to paint due to its ability to preserve natural oils, which in turn helps maintain the flexibility of the canvas and protect it from turning brittle or growing cracks. The weave of linen is an absolute delight due to its natural occurrence. It is preferable to pick linen if you are looking for preserving the painting for a longer period because linen is a natural fiber from the flax plant, making it 30% stronger than cotton. 

 Both surfaces are available in various grades and weights.

By choice of Paint:

(In case of Pre-Primed Canvas)

  1. Oil Paint: An oil primed canvas accepts the medium of oil paints only.
  2. Acrylic Paint / Oil paint: In case you aren’t still sure about the choice of Paint, go for a universally primed canvas. A universal primed canvas has an acrylic primer that accepts both mediums, acrylic, and oil paint.

 By type of canvas size:

  • Stretched Canvas
  • Canvas Panels
  • Pads of canvas
  • Canvas Rolls

Choosing canvases on the basis of shape

Traditionally rectangular, artists in the past, like Frank Stella, Jeremy Moon, have merrily broken this notion to produce unique pieces of art.

Shapes in which canvases are available :

  • Square
  • Triangle
  • Rectangle
  • Oval
  • Circle

 By choice of location:

Many of us love putting up painting on the wall but get confused while selecting the size. We have listed an approximate size that would be ideal for various rooms.

  • 10″ X 8″: Hallways, Work Desks
  • 10″ X 14″: Bedside desks, Kitchen walls.
  • 12″ X 12″: Bathroom, Gallery walls.
  • 24″ X 10″: Above a fireplace or a massive blank wall!
  • 16″ X 16″: Bedrooms, Living rooms
  • 36″ X 12″: Hallways

Preppin’ your Canvases:

Priming of canvas

Priming is a process wherein one creates a barrier between the Paint and the canvas. It a smooth texture thereby allowing the brush to move across freely. It also allows the colors to stand out.


The visibly white bright coat on the canvas is called ‘Gesso.’ It is the combination of white Paint and binders that make the raw canvas less absorbent towards Paint than it originally is. 

Most canvases that are available in the store are pre-primed as mentioned above, but if you are choosing a raw canvas, priming becomes an essential prerequisite for painting it.

Have you ever thought of making your own gesso?

         Here’s what all you’d need 

  1. 1/4th cup Talcum Powder
  2. 1 tbsp white glue
  3. 1 tbsp white paint
  4. 2 tbsp water – varies according to desired consistency

  Important: Do not throw left-over Gesso as it threatens to clog the drains once hardened.

Clear Primer : 

If you don’t want the original texture of the canvas to be altered or wish to avoid ‘Gesso’ due to the bright white coat that it leaves, go for ‘clear acrylic gesso.’

All set to Paint?

Let’s go!

Pick your paintbrushes wisely: The choice of the brush, whether round or flat, or the size of it is dependent upon the intricacy of work you are attempting. Also, it’s safe to call canvas a brush friendly ground. Therefore your strokes highly depend on the paint medium you use. For example, use a broad flat brush for painting the background and use a small tip round brush for a delicate daisy. While using acrylic paints, keep a water container handy to avoid drying of brushes.

Paints drying up too fast? Here’s what you can try: Keep small spraying can besides you at all points, occasionally spray little amounts of water on your palette. Spraying might help to an extent! You can also use a fluid retarder to do the same.

Pick your work-angle! What do you prefer? Using the easel that facilitates an angle, or a flat surface? It could be upright too! Allow your comfort level to make a choice.

Do not use too much water on the canvas! Because once it dries, it leaves stains you probably didn’t foresee.

Bland Background? Applying a layer of Paint in the background instantly livens the mood of the painting!

Know your colors! Acrylic colors tend to be darker; on the other hand, oil paints retain their original shade, often lighter. Ensure you mix in your whites and blacks proportionately! Also, Acrylic Paint on canvas dries up faster than oil paints.

Work with layers! The more the layers, the more the depth! Do not aim to conclude your piece of art in one layer; try to add textures to the final coat. It will escalate the quality of the drawing. 

Dive deep into the painting

Store your artwork with the utmost delicacy! If the wet Paint comes in contact with another surface, it tends to stick and leave unwanted blotches.

Ready yourself for your next masterpiece! Wash your brushes and palette as soon as you finish, procrastinating will only make this all the more tedious as the color will have dried up. Drain the paint water to avoid foul smell.

Frequently asked questions

Use a soft pad with a mild detergent and hot water to scrub away the remaining stains and dirt.

Spray the back of the canvas using a spray bottle and rub the water into the canvas with a rag. Do not use too much water! Allow the canvas to dry!

Due to the immensely versatile nature of oil pastels, yes, they can be used!

Store it in a cool place, away from dust and harsh sunlight. Cover it with a white cloth.

Yes, it’s recommended to use 4H or 6H grades. Try acrylic paint markers!

Avoid it. Follow the steps for a neat output!  u003cbru003e1) Dab the pencil mark with a paper towel or tissue to pick-up any loose pieces of graphite.u003cbru003e2) Blot the pencil mark with a kneaded eraseru003cbru003e3) Slide a vinyl eraser from the clean portion and wipe it over the pencil mark towards another clean portion. u003cbru003e

Flip the side, if the color of canvas on the back is more off-white/pale than that in the front, stay assured it’s a primed canvas.

 A reviewer mentioned that her most trusted brand for canvas painting remains Roy Fine Art

Since the canvas is acrylic primed, it allows her to pick the paint medium of her choice. Plus, it has been pre-sized and treated for fungus. Sizing of the canvas helps make it less absorbent while the fungus treatment ensures the longevity of the artwork.                                                                     

Artist: Pradnya

Throughout your journey of experimentation, ensure you record each outcome, for you never know what element might become your forever style.

Not to forget, a blank canvas has infinite possibilities, so allow your brushes to tell your story!

Writer: Saumya Baheti

Canvas Board

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44 thoughts on “Canvas: Learn to choose the right canvases

  1. Swati Mishra says:

    This is really in depth information that everyone could use. Thank you for all the info at one place, wouldn’t need to look further.?

    1. ayushpaper says:

      ? so glad you found it helpful

  2. Kalyani Pradhan says:

    This is all you need to know…… Beautifully arranged information, precise and well researched. This is really helpful for both beginners and professionals. Thank you for putting such thoughtful effort ??

    1. ayushpaper says:

      Thank you so much for reading the entire blog post and finding time to comment. Many such useful posts coming up soon ?

  3. Shreyya Agrawal says:

    Found the make your own gesso part very interesting will definitely try it!

  4. Prachiti says:

    This is all the information that’s required when you go looking for a canvas. It was really very useful and precise details are incorporated in it like the home made gesso, also of the canvas is actually primed or not,etc. All the efforts to put forth this article is really appreciated. Thanks a lot for a lot of information.?

    1. ayushpaper says:

      Thenk you so much for going through the details of our post. ?

  5. Prachiti says:

    This is all the information that’s required when you go looking for canvases.
    All the efforts u put down to make the article is appreciated.
    Thanks a lot. ?

  6. Bincy says:

    Very informative and well written article. Good job!

  7. Kavan says:

    Oh wow !! This is really good, the in-depth information about each and every aspects, easily helps any artists to work in a great manner by keeping all the things in the mind. The diy gesso and paints drying up too fast these both topics are cherry on the top. Great article ???????????? Looking forward to read more like this stuff…

    1. ayushpaper says:

      Thank you so much! Many more interesting articles coming up soon!

  8. bougainvilleartcart says:

    This was so informative, there were so many details here that I did not even realise I needed to know! especially the details regarding prepping the canvas and making my own gesso! I have taken down my notes? Thanks, this was much needed.

  9. Palak says:

    In depth compilation of all the things one needs to know about choosing a canvas!
    Great blog post!

  10. Anjana G says:

    This is a very informative blog, a lot to learn from this. Great job! I’m definitely going to try making the gesso 🙂

  11. Sudha says:

    Hey ! It’s wonderful to know about canvas . So informative blog and great job ?

  12. Ritika says:

    Loved it, the layout, the article. Very interesting.

  13. Seema says:

    Wao very nice write up .keep it up

  14. Rajashree revankar says:

    Wow so much to learn about a simple canvas and how we can do wonders with these tips
    Thank you for giving us amaizing blog about canvases

    1. ayushpaper says:

      Your welcome ?

  15. Mittali says:

    This is helpful information and thank you so much!! 🙂

  16. Sharanya says:

    This is like full deep dive into understanding about canvas and I wish I had this when I was just starting out .

    1. ayushpaper says:

      You could help spread a word to the ones who are starting out 🙂

  17. Shreya Kulshreshtha says:

    Very useful information all at one place. When I first started with Canvas Acrylic painting, I had to scrape the internet to understand how it all works.
    I’m glad you took the initiative to put it all together in such simple words!!

    1. ayushpaper says:

      So glad you liked the blog post.

  18. Vasundhara says:

    I’ve been thinking of getting my hands on using Oil Paints and i really find this blog helpful!! 10/10 recommended!! for all the points covered!

    1. ayushpaper says:

      So glad this blog will help you choose a right canvas.

  19. Rina Maria says:

    A very detailed explanation of canvases! Really great job!

  20. This is very informative for the beginners or budding Artists. Your language used is easy to understand and develops interest. The step by step explanations are relevant, detail, very useful.
    Glad that you write this. Waiting for further write up….
    All the best ?

    1. ayushpaper says:

      Thank you so much! Next blog coming up soon.

  21. This is very informative for the beginners or budding Artists.
    All the best ?

  22. Heena Siddiqui says:

    Detailed information for everything you would want to know about getting started and canvas.
    Picking right Canvas is as important as any other stage in your painting hence one has to know about how to pick the right canvas. This blog is very helpful.

    1. ayushpaper says:

      Thank you so much for read the blog.

  23. Megha says:

    Thank you for sharing such a useful and resourceful content. Learnt a lot from this. ?♥️

    1. ayushpaper says:

      So happy that you liked the blog post.

  24. Susan Sandra says:

    So so impressed with this content! Its a must-read for every artist (begineers as well as professionals).Loved the way you executed it.Well Organized and informative. Just a thought ,you can add about varnishing the canvas -it would be cheery on top??Waiting to see more such amazing contents!?

    1. ayushpaper says:

      Hey thanks will definitely consider it ?

  25. Priyanka Mishra says:

    Thats really valuable information for anyone who wanna go for painting a canvas. And specially it is explained in very presentable mannner step by step. Easy to understand and keep it mind ☺️ well organised and well executed ?

    1. ayushpaper says:

      So glad you found the information educative.

  26. Rutuja says:

    This information is really useful for beginners like me..thanks for sharing this valuable soo much knowledge

    1. ayushpaper says:

      So glad you found the information educative.

  27. Aditi says:

    Amazing post! I love the step by step process of considering options for all the materials based on what purpose I will use it for. I would love to see some more real-life examples from this incredible community of artists — maybe pictures of finished products. A how-to video of this content would also be great for lazy ones like me 😉 Thanks Saumya for writing it, and Ayush Paper for featuring this!

    1. ayushpaper says:

      Thanks, Aditi!
      Creating a video based on this is an amazing idea and I’ll get on to it post lockdown definitely. Pictures of finished artwork is another great idea will try requesting artist’s for those images and post them on this blog. Thank you for contributing to this post.

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