What Kind of Canvas Do Professional Artists Use?

What makes a painting breathtaking is, of course, the brilliance, the creativity, the imagination and the expertise of an artist.

What they paint comes from their heart and their minds, and touches our hearts. A good artist can work on anything, any kind of surface, and create absolute masterpieces.

However, the right tools also help. The right kind of canvas, the right brushes and the right paint can be an artist’s best friend when painting. When a good artist has the right tools to work with, they can become great artists with the power to create anything.

Different Kinds of Canvases for  Paintings

Canvases are one of the most important tools for an artist. With the right kind of canvas at hand, any artist can use any medium or paint to create absolutely stunning landscapes, portraits and paintings.

There are many different kinds of canvas available in the market for which you can choose from.

Based on material, the most popular kind of canvases include cotton canvas, linen canvas and canvas made from synthetic fiber.

Based on the use or the structure, canvas can be stretched canvas, canvas panels, canvas rolls and finally, canvas pads.

Based on texture or the surface of the canvas, artists can choose between rougher weaves of the material for large paintings, or smooth surfaces for detailed work.

Based on preparation, there is also the choice between primed or not primed canvases, depending on what the artist is looking for.

Depending on the personal preferences of the artist, the type of art they are creating, the type of paint they are using and other factors, all artists choose their canvases based on these four choices.

What Kind of Canvases do Professional Artists Use?

Any professional artist knows the value of a good canvas. Therefore, there are a few aspects any artist or painter would consider before choosing a canvas for their work.


Of course, an artist would first consider the material of the canvas. This is because every material reacts differently to different paint mediums. Depending on whether the artist is using acrylic or watercolor, they have to choose the material of the canvas.

Between cotton, linen and synthetic fiber, the most common choices for canvas material is cotton and linen. They are both suitable for most kinds of paintings and paints, and preferred by most professionals.

Cotton, or duck cotton canvas, to be more precise, is the most popular choice because it is the most affordable one. They come in different weights and weaves, from very fine and detailed surfaces to a rough weave.

These kinds of cotton canvases can be used in both regular paintings with large brush strokes and detailed paintings with smaller brush strokes. Linen canvas, on the other hand, is more expensive and of a superior quality than duck cotton canvas. This is because they lack the stretch of cotton canvases but have more strength.

For professional artists, linen canvases are the most preferable choices. Beside being of a high-quality, linen canvases has more strength and reliability.

While cotton canvases can get distorted once it is stretched to be fitted to a canvas, linen stays stable. Considering the archival prospect and the lifetime of the canvas, too, linen canvas – although more expensive – is the right choice for most professional artists and painters.


Canvas can be bought in already fitted frames ready to be painted on and hung on walls, on wooden press board panels, rolls or in individual sheets of canvas in the form of a pad. The same kind of cotton, linen or synthetic fiber canvases are usually available in all these kinds of forms and structures.

Professional artists pick one or more of these canvas types based on what they are looking for, what their painting process is, or what they are most comfortable painting on.

Stretched canvases come already fitted in frames, ready to use instantly after unwrapping. They come pre-stretched, sometimes pre-primed, but are also an expensive choice.

However, since these frames also come ready to hung, no changes can be made to the shape or the size of the frames. Canvas panels, too, come stretched and attached to heavy-duty cardstock or panels, and cannot be altered.

Professional artists, therefore, prefer canvas rolls that they can shape and size according to their needs. They are also the cheapest ways to buy canvas; canvas rolls come in yards, both made from cotton or linen, and differing in weight and weave.

Professional and experienced painters can prepare, cut, shape and size these rolls of canvas according to their needs.


Both between duck cotton and linen canvas, you have multiple choices regarding texture. From extremely rough texture to fine, professional artists choose the type they want based on the kind of painting they want to make.

For larger paintings with large brush strokes and not too many details, rougher weaves of duck cotton or linen are perfectly acceptable, although linen canvases are naturally smoother.

On the other hand, if the artist is working on smaller and more detailed paintings, they choose finely woven canvases that have a fine and smooth surface.


Experienced artists prefer to prepare their own canvas, i.e. professionals buy canvas rolls they’d have to prime themselves, instead of pre-primed stretched canvases.

In fact, most professionals prefer to buy canvas rolls to cut, shape, size and prepare their canvases themselves before they start painting.

The process of preparing a piece of canvas means to cover them completely with “gesso” – which is a transparent mixture of chalk, plaster of Paris, glue and pigment. This layer of “primer” keeps the canvas from absorbing the paint and shows the real color of the painting above the canvas.

A “primer” is like an added, transparent or semi-transparent layer or paint used on most canvases that acts as a barrier between the paint and the surface of the canvas.

Working with the same paint or the same pigments, paintings on a primed canvas would be bright and detailed, and on an “unprimed” canvas would be dull and subtle.


The more professional and experienced an artist is, the more they prefer to work with raw materials they can alter themselves to their preferences.

While beginners mostly buy already stretched canvases that are primed and ready to work with immediately after purchase, professionals prefer to cut their canvas rolls into shape, prime them as well as stretch them into a form.

1 thought on “What Kind of Canvas Do Professional Artists Use?”

  1. I was hoping you would have given a company that would supply a good quality ready made streatched canvas for a professional portrait.

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