How to Choose Canvas for Painting – Beginners Guide to Canvas Selection

canvas for painting

Canvas is actually used as a base or surface for painting. There are many variations from fabric, texture, color and style type for painters to choose their most comforting type of canvas for ease. Here you can learn how to select the right canvas for painting to help beginners.

What is Painting canvas?

It’s simple to paint any fabric that’s tightly woven or is a wooden panel which is a traditional form of surface for art work created by painting on canvas with different media. It is normally made of Linen yarn or Cotton yarn and is later cut out in size and placed on a frame tightly in place. 

Uses of Canvas Art

It is used to create artwork for decor purposes. Easy canvas paintings for creating large fabric art for walls or upholstery as well. There are so many more uses of canvas paintings and are easily portable rather than heavy panels of art, you can also create small canvas paintings and have different hues of canvas for different decor themes. 

Why use Canvas? And benefits of using canvas painting base

  • It is light in weight compared to a lot of different surfaces to create canvas art work. 
  • Comes in different textures of which can later be used to create enormous wall art painting or for any other decor purchase.
  • It is durable and lasts longer as the paint artwork was created earlier. 

How to prepare canvas before Painting

If you’re buying a canvas that’s not primed and needs to have a base to hold the paint well and protect the fabric you will require to start applying gesso first. What is Gesso? You can also paint unprimed canvases but this is only for acrylic paint. And there are some already ready primed canvases available to just start work. 

To prepare painting canvas with acrylic gesso, you will also require a few other supplies to prime the painting canvas for beginners. 

Priming A Canvas for Paint

Whether you want to use Oil paint on canvas or canvas for acrylic painting, you can use the acrylic gesso. You will need a few things below:

  • Tray or Container
  • Acrylic Gesso
  • Flat brushes
  • Water Jar
  • Canvas
  • Acrylic paint – that is if you want to add a tint to the base.

Now apply the gesso to the surface well and let it dry out well before you start working on this. The canvas should be non porous once it is ready to use. This will also provide a smooth base for the brush strokes and some artists also prefer non-primed canvases for a dull and textured finish. 

Readymade Primed Canvases

It is easy to find such rolls or stretched canvas which are glued or fixed on frame for painters to start using it directly. The ready base for paint should be the right one when compared to the types of color paint used. 

You can paint oil colors on the canvas which has been primed for oil paint strokes to strike out sharp. You will need acrylic gesso for acrylics or watercolor paint as you don’t want them to be porous that they spread hue. Learn more about readymade ones to start painting and how to choose the right gesso base for different paint types below. 

Types of Canvas

There are different types of canvas from fabric and style. Let’s see a few that may be useful to beginners with the canvas paint size details. 

Canvas Panels

These are easily carried and moved around as they are light panels. They are made of cotton and are primed and stretched over a board frame. These are more affordable for students when they need painting canvas with acrylic colors. Choosing a ready painting kit for beginners would provide the right kinds for students or beginners. 

Canvas Pads

These come as sheets in a spiral bound which can have heavy paper or normal sheets for beginners and is also a great option for canvas painting for kids. It can be carried easily making it easy for painters canvas needed at outdoor locations. 

Stretched Canvas

As a professional artist, they will need to use stretched canvas which is fixed on a frame or surface which holds the fabric straight and tight for artwork. These come in light weight and are ready to be hanged as a canvas wall art after it is ready. There are different ready sizes available also for mini canvas painting decor. 

Canvas Rolls

This is a roll of fabric which is not yet stretched out. You can buy a roll and then fix it on a painting canvas frame to use it. You can cut different painting canvas size from the roll for different purposes. 

Canvas Boards

Just like any stretched canvas on a ready frame, this one is fixed on a cardboard box shape for easy painting. The base may be linen or cotton but both are primied well for a particular paint media that should be used over it. 

How to choose the right canvas for art

Let’s learn how to select the right type of canvas for painting mediums like acrylic paints, oil paints or just water colors for beginner levels. 

Based on Fabric: there are two basics which are linen and cotton base. The linen canvas is known to be the best quality and is used by professional artists. Cotton is less expensive compared to linen, and can be used by those learning how to paint. 

Based on Texture: considering the woven fabric, it produced different textures as per the close tight  weave or rough and bigger weaves. For smooth and detailed finish or intricate painting ideas, choose compact weave, while for painting canvas large designs go for those with rough weave for large brush strokes. 

Based on Primer: This depends on the paint type you are using. They need to be pre primed or you can use gesso and let it dry before you start working on it. While some artists also like to use unprimed canvases for rough and dull finish. There are two main types of primer which should be used for acrylic painting on canvas or oil painting on canvas.

Canvas for acrylic paint is primed with universal primer which is acrylic gesso. You can use both oil paints and acrylic paints on these types of base. This also depends on how many coats of primer you require for the painting, from 4-6 coats or just 1-2 coats to just provide a good adhere base for painters which need some texture of the fabric to be visible. 

Canvas for oil paint is one that uses the primer that will make the fabric less absorbent and suitable for oil painting. Although you cannot use acrylic paint on an oil primed canvas as the paint will start to peel off once it dries. 

Canvas Sizes to Choose

You can choose canvas as per the need of wall art or for a large portrait. There are some fixed sizes available in ready to use ones like the 11×14 size, and the 16x 20 canvas size which is considered best for painters to create their art. And for painting on an easel, it’s recommended you choose larger sizes.

Canvas painting for beginners – How to Start

There are a few things in a canvas which need to be understood for beginners. From choosing the right type, primed, and size of canvas. 

Choose a medium size for beginners as it has enough space to work on rather than using smaller ones and creating intricate designs. Also start with the cotton duck canvases as they are cheaper and easy to use, stretch well when needed to be fixed on a metal or wooden frame. Buying the one which has a universal finish is considered the best option for acrylic painting for beginners, as this will provide a well finish and you will not need to buy gesso and apply coats.

Painting Canvas Kit or Canvas set

Using a canvas set which has a few different sizes of ready to use size, pre-primed and attached on frames. Or those which have the fabric, primer and frames which you need to attach yourself is easy for starting your work. 

buy stretched canvas
Shop Artist Paint Canvas Kit – Pack of 3/6


Buy a painting canvas kit which has all the necessary art work supplies from canvas, paint, brushes, etc to begin with art. Kronictron Paint kit provides your solution to choosing the best canvas for acrylic painting with paint by numbers kit. You don’t need to worry about the size and primer, when the kit also provides the easel for your fabric to rest on. 


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