View Full Version : Canvas vs. Canvas Board

07-02-2007, 11:08 AM
Being a beginner I am wondering what you prefer to work on, stretched canvas or canvas board? what are the advantages and disadvantages of both? Also, is it best to gesso first or not? What are advantages and disadvantages of that? :)

07-02-2007, 01:02 PM
i like the hardness of the canvas board- i can do my blending- which requires alot of scrubbing at least for me it does and the board works better than the canvas for me - that's my vote

07-02-2007, 01:05 PM

Generally, unless marked as archival, canvas board is a practice surface. You can get archival but it is a few dollars more. I happen to like working on Multimedia ArtBoard, Canvas over hardboard or Canvas stretched. It depends on size, affect and feel I want.

You can get canvas in various weaves that are generally stretched but rarely will you find many choices in canvas board. If you like a smooth surface you can gesso. You may want to consider going to the information kiosk and doing some reading in there. It is always filled with good stuff.

So, the answer to the above questions is yes, yes and no, sometimes but not always.

Charlie's Mum
07-02-2007, 01:15 PM
It's personal choice for most of us!
Boards need to be framed - chunky canvases don't. :D

07-02-2007, 02:03 PM
I prefer stretched canvas. Canvas board is just a tad bit too rigid for my tastes. I also notice that canvas board has a rougher tooth to it's gesso texture which fights my painting style.

The only way to figure out which surface you prefer is to try them both. Then you can decide which surface compliments your painting style.

Good luck. :)

07-02-2007, 03:56 PM
Besides durability of construction, the main reason I'm not interested in buying pre-made canvas/boards is the size/scale issue. Why should you be limited to 16" x 20"? What if you want 14 3/4" x 27 8/16"?

Gluing a piece of canvas to a piece of hardboard (if done properly) is way better than the crappy cardboard canvas boards they sell in shops.

So whether you choose board or stretchers to paint on, it's good to just build your own. And if you don't feel like building your own canvas stretcher, well, you'd be surprised what you can paint on (as in, make your OWN canvas board).

Doing a painting does not have to involve a trip to the expensive art store.

Keep your eyes open for old cabinet doors, shelves, etc. One of the best paintings I've ever seen was done on the keyboard shelf ripped off an old computer desk. And several of my paintings on canvas are stretched over old wooden window frames I found in a garage.

I guess to summarize: you can glue canvas to whatever you want, and make a better canvas board than you'd buy. :)

07-02-2007, 04:23 PM
I use both depending on how I feel, what I have on hand, or what the job is. Jan

07-02-2007, 04:37 PM
There's one you didn't mention...paper. Paper is actually my first preference, at least at this point. It's easy to crop to fit a frame and not too expensive as I learn to paint. I use watercolor paper for many of my acrylic paintings. I also like canvas board but trying to find frames that don't cost an arm and a leg is exhausting. Also, it's hard to find a package of these that aren't warped. There is a trend toward unframed art on canvas and so like Maureen pointed out, chunky canvas is a good choice because it won't cost you extra to frame. I like 110s ideas and do have some Goodwill and garage sale treasures that I will eventually paint something on. I've got my eye out for old kitchen doors too.:D

Good question!


Almost forgot: I don't like gesso. Makes the support to slippery.

07-02-2007, 04:45 PM
Wow! A lot of good answers here. I hope to hear more. :) :clap:

07-02-2007, 05:01 PM
I started out on canvas board, and it was the right choice for me.

07-03-2007, 12:39 PM
I agree, all good answers, idylbrush, for size, affect and feel and Charlie's Mum was right on about framing but I have an additional point to add to 1100ww answer about making your own. IF you have some odd sized frames from backyard sales, it's a great way to make your own canvas board to fit them. I am not familiar with Multimedia art board but will check it out. I belong to a collaborative group of 11 Texas artists and we use standard size canvas with different depths. You can see some of our work at http://canvasbycanvas.com (http://www.canvasbycanvas.com). For personal use, I use it all and have been gessoing watercolor paper and painting on it with acrylics. Then yesterday I did a whimiscal piece 6 x 8 on a canvas board to post on my blog: (http://nancystandlee.blogspot.com) Smaller pieces lend themselves to canvas board as there is not so much chance of it warping.
I hope this helps. You will need to try both to decide which works for you.
Nancy Standlee

07-03-2007, 02:48 PM
I prefer the "spring" of stretched canvas and I like Crescent hot pressed illustration board too. Very smooth.

07-03-2007, 03:31 PM
Multimedia ArtBoard is a resin impregnated paper. It tends to be brittle but it is a great surface to paint on and in the sizes I am currently working it is a rather interesting surface. At first absorbent but it soon seals up and it becomes the most interesting stuff. I like the way it can be cut and sanded. Like I said, interesting stuff.

07-03-2007, 08:57 PM
I started out like most do on the inexpensive canvas boards so readily available but I found that they warp with the slightest bit of moisture. I prefer the prestretched canvas or wood panels if I want the stiffness. I don't worry about the texture of canvas since I usually do 3-4 coats of gesso, masonite or plywood panels only require 1 or 2 coats of gesso

Roger Evans
07-03-2007, 08:58 PM
I like really, really big canvas. My typical size is 3 x 5 feet so canvas board is a non-starter for me. However, I see incredible work done on canvas board and I'm always amazed at pieces done with detail on such a small scale.


07-03-2007, 11:32 PM
Great advice here N. Wiley. Personally I started on canvas boards. Then I started making my own: 20 x 24 x 1. I can paint the sides, looks 3d, don't need frames and I find most buyers prefer canvas over board. They always want to touch it first. Canvas feels different...............tj

07-04-2007, 01:18 AM
I don't like the way larger canvas boards can warp and bend. I prefer stretched canvas for larger paintings.

07-04-2007, 07:51 AM
At present I am enjoying chunky stretched canvas..:)

07-04-2007, 07:05 PM
1100ww mentions that he glues canvas to rigid support. What type of glue would you recommend? Do you use a brush to apply? or do you use an aerosol spray adhesive?


I've been using ready-made canvas panels to do some of my small paintings that I've posted on my blog (http://mitchell-taylor.blogspot.com) Then I can use a ready-made frame and don't have to worry about the depth of the canvas when I insert the panel into the frame. But having the option of cutting canvas to size is something I'd like to try.

Also I've got tons of old watercolor paintings I'd like to gesso over and adhere to a rigid surface. My friend and Canvas by Canvas (http://www.canvasbycanvas.com)colleague, Nancy Standlee has done quite a few knock-out pieces on gessoed watercolor paper.

07-04-2007, 08:10 PM
Betty, I am absolutely not an expert, but I've used PVA glue with success. PVA seems to be a fancy name for Elmer's or Titebond glue. A lot of people feel that if you're using MDF, you should seal the surface first.

I rolled out an even layer of glue on the MDF board, layed the canvas material down, then smoothed out the canvas with a clean new paint roller. You could even iron it. Now you can gesso the canvas and trim the edges with a razor. Or you could wrap the edges of the fabric around the sides using more glue.

My main point was that probably anything you make by hand would be better than a canvas board bought at the store....

Honestly I usually paint on stretched canvas (that I build). :)

07-05-2007, 10:42 AM
I only use canvas board for trials to see how and if something will work. My latest salt & pepper painting was on canvas board. I was really playing gesso applications prior to painting. I was applying layers with a flat edge trying to eliminate adge marks with a new sanding device. Anyway I ended up with the canvas board prepared so I threw some paint on to see how the surface worked. Otherwise I would never start out on the board.

07-05-2007, 12:30 PM

This is just a thought on this subject that has worked well for me. I don't have a lot of money to spend on spendy supplies and I don't want to take the time for a long drawnout process of mounting canvas with gesso or glue. I usually preferr to paint on stretched canvas but use canvas boards for quick studies and small paintings. I mount my own canvas on eighth inch thick hardboard. I buy pre-gessoed canvas by the 6 yard roll and cut it to the approximate size I want, mount it to the hardboard with double sided carpet tape and then trim it. I cover one side of the entire board with tape and then adhere the canvas to it. This works for me for painting, under say 10 x 12 inches. Anything bigger I usually stretch a canvas to paint on. This allows me to remove the canvas from the board easily if I want to without any mess or hassle. I paint thinly, not impasto, so I don't have to worry about the paint cracking or flakeing if I want to take the canvas off the hardboard. Just a thought and more ecomnomical than purchased canvas boards. I find that they are also more durable.


07-05-2007, 06:57 PM
I mostly use canvas boards but sometimes a premade stretched canvas I think I actually prefer the boards although they do bend with time.I usually frame my work though so the warping gets corrected . You can get different textures if you search around.


07-05-2007, 07:25 PM
Thanks for all the good advice on stretched canvas versus panels. I often like the rigid feel of a panel but I think streched canvas might sell better? There seem to be a good many options for a painting support as well as many ways to adhere the surface to the support. I'm thinking that artists in the past used whatever they had on hand and whatever they could afford. Once during a Modigliani show at the Kimbell Art Museum (http://www.kimbellart.org/) in Fort Worth, Texas I was shocked to see that Modigliani (http://www.artchive.com/artchive/M/modigliani.html) used a brown paper bag to paint on! (It's framed behind glass and hasn't disintegrated yet. This must drive museum curators nuts!)

07-05-2007, 11:25 PM
a little of topic- bettyt- those peppers are HOT- love em!