No matter what painting you want to do, it requires canvas or special oil painting paper that one of our colleagues here keeps using.
I hope he will write an article soon too compare canvas to that special wonderful paper.
I want to make clear that it is my experience and my opinion and hopefully you may agree with part of it.
I started in 2015 with acrylic painting and reached some little success there. However when I switched to oil I was at square one again.
I decided that i will be buying cheap canvas in one of the hobby stores in USA in bulk to start.
I was happy about them and about paying 10 dollars for 5 good size canvas 16 by 20 inches.
Then my life suddenly dropped me in Russia and I went to buy some canvas there, of course, after finishing all ones I brought with me. Those cheap ones...that I dearly miss.
Here I got a very bad surprise when I saw the price that was 10 dollars per one same size canvas. I bought cheaper one and left the shop.
I was puzzled to say at least. And started my research.
Here I want to share what I figured out.
There are 3 types of the textile for canvas: linen, cotton and synthetic. Also there are mixes of them.
Of course linen is the most expensive one as it lasts centuries. If you go to the museum and you'll see many famous artists were using linen at those days. Please see example of linen canvas from the back with good and sturdy stretcher bar.
Belgian linen is considered to be the best in the world as they care about the manufacturing process for centuries.
Next type is cotton. Cotton canvas will last for tens of years if in proper humidity and etc. Below is example of cotton canvas from the back.
Synthetic is not researched that well yet. So our grandchildren will be experts in that one.
Why I am telling all that?
Because for starters like me many of the paintings will be reworked or destroyed as they have no value but painted to learn the process.
Of course for many of the beginners we don't want to invest too much money till we have realized we love oil painting and want to develop in this field.
That is why linen superior quality stays for professional artists and people who want their beginner works to be hang in the museum in one hundred years.
I have not tried synthetic and have not seen it in Russia hobby stores.
So my choice is cotton. Double primed with gesso. But not with the staff they do it in Russia even for expensive linen canvas. You cannot paint on it. Period.
Also I got to know and I truly hope no one will go through this struggle that primer which is not proper gesso pulls the oil from the paint and paint layer becomes dull and nothing, I repeat, nothing could fix it for canvas I bought from local stores here. This is dangerous in long term, as oil goes from the paint to the textile and linseed oil that serves as glue is gone, the paint will fall off the canvas. Anther problem when oil seeps to the back side of the canvas it promotes mold there. Below is example of oil spots and even eaten by solvent primer on the bad quality canvas.
So, after all my circles of hell I found one brand of reasonable price 4 dollars per same size, made of cotton. Double primed canvas. But made in China. I am going to use only them while I am deciding to become a famous artist.
I am a firm believer you can save on the canvas but buy the best paint you can afford as paint changes a lot of experience. Go for the manufacturers who produce thicker consistency paints as they should contain more pigment in them and less additives and oil. You always can make it thinner yourself and control the result.
Happy painting my dear Artists!
Updated on 3/11/2020 with examples of cotton and linen canvas and bad example of what should not be happening.