Friday, April 27, 2018

Painting Surfaces

Red Rose 

10” X 8”

 On Dream Canvas


I first discovered this type of canvas years ago and could not wait to paint on it.  It had a different surface than I had painted on in the past and because red roses were always my mother’s favorite flower, I decided that was what I wanted to paint. As I worked on it, it quickly became a favorite.  Not only the beautiful red rose but also the support on which I was painting. The canvas is made of nylon and can be used for any type of medium, pen and ink, watercolor, acrylic or oils. They are very smooth, durable, and will outlast many canvases made of other fabrics.  Another painting on this “Dream Canvas” is my Magnolia on the home page of my website at  There is a link at the top of the page.  The Magnolia is probably my favorite painting of all the paintings I have done.  

I do have more information on these canvases and several different standard sizes and colors for sale on my website

Thought of the Day:

Someone once said that your growth as an artist will take a lifetime. It is a continuous path of frustration and joyful insight. You will never know everything, and most painters quit before they discover who they really are as an artist. When your imagination employs the rich sensory memory of all that you have experienced, the artwork you create becomes alive, and this is what the world is waiting to see in your paintings.

Tip of the Day:

Today’s tip is about the surface on which you paint.  It is called a “support”.  We have all been to our local art store, looked down the racks of canvases and wondered, “Which one do I choose?”  I am going to give you several different opinions on this very subject.  I suggest that you try different supports and then decide what is right for you. 

In this Tip of the Day I will be discussing panels and pre-stretched canvases that you purchase and not those you stretch yourself.  When choosing a support, even though it is a personal preference choice because you can really paint on anything you desire.  Setting this aside, there are a few things we need to consider.  

Whatever support you choose must be sealed.  Artist use a verity of products to seal their support.  A lot will depend on the type of support you are going to use. So let first look at a few of the most common ones.

Panels, Boards:  Panels can range from canvas panes to fiberboard, for example.  Canvas panels are usually made of some type of cardboard and then covered in canvas, most likely cotton.  They are very inexpensive and are not very durable.  They warp very easily and if they get damp, the canvas will separate from the cardboard.  If you think you will just use them to practice a painting, that painting will turn out to be one of your best and there you have in on a cheap, horrible support. I do not recommend them for any use.

A lot of artist use fiberboard for small painting, usually under 16” X 20”.  Anything over 14” X 18” gets really heavy so they switch to stretched canvas, most stretching their own and using linen. I know some artist who go to their local home improvement store, purchase a large sheet of fiberboard and have the store cut the exact sizes they want.  The artist pre-plans all the cuts before the purchase.  Fiberboard makes a great surface to paint on and is less expensive than a lot of other supports.  To seal the fiberboard you can use several products.  For example, you can use three or four coats of gesso.  You have to let each coat dry and lightly sand before adding the next coat.  You can use one or two coats of white acrylic or oil paint, again lightly sanding between each coat.  One artist I know sprays several coats of Rust-Oleum White Auto Primer and you do not have to sand it.  It is probably more permanent than gesso.  The number of coat of sealer you put on you board will be determine by the texture you personally prefer.

It does take a little patience, practice and getting adjusted to painting on fiberboard.  The texture is very smooth but once it is sealed, the paint will not be absorbed into the board as it does with most pre-stretched canvases that are not properly sealed.  

Pre-Stretched Canvas:  Pre-stretched canvases are varied to say the least.  Of course, they vary in size but it is the texture of the surface that we are most concerned.  Pre-stretched canvases are available in all price ranges, from very inexpensive to very expensive.  So what is the difference?  The obvious is cheap price, cheap quality.  The next thing is the type of fabric used and the surface texture.  Most store bought pre-stretched canvas are made from cotton.  Some have a larger weave, which makes the surface rougher, and some have a tighter weave, which makes the surface smoother. They are usually referred to as medium texture or smooth texture.  A rough texture or a smooth texture also depends on how many coats of gesso have been applied to the surface.  Again, a lot of store bought canvas will say, “Primed with three coats of gesso”.  In most cases, in my opinion, that is not enough.  You can always add more gesso, just very lightly sand between each coat. 

If you are painting the “Bob Ross” method, a medium texture would be best.  It takes a rough surface, and a very stiff paint, to paint snow on the mountains.    However, that is the only reason I would personally ever recommend a medium texture canvas.  The weave is large and a painter has to really work to fill in all those little holes.  Bob Ross uses a lot of paint and it is easy to cover the canvas.

Most professional artist paint on fiberboard and/or linen canvas and sometimes on cotton.  When I paint on cotton, I use Fredix Blue Label Ultrasmooth canvas.  I love the smooth texture it provides.  That is also why I really enjoy painting on the Nylon canvas on which I painted the “Red Rose” above and also the “Magnolia” on my website.  The texture is wonderful and it takes less paint.   

Please visit my website for further information on what sizes and colors are available and how you may purchase them.

Dream Canvas

Available in White, Gray or Black.  

To get more info or order canvases click on the picture above in the right column!

Question of the Day:

 Because of the length of this blog, there is no Question of the Day.

 Thank you for visiting my blog.  Please do not hesitate to make a comment below or email me at  I welcome your feedback.

If you know of anyone that may appreciate the things I am sharing about painting, please let them know about this blog.  I hope to offer more painting tips as this conversation continues.  

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent information! I really like those canvas recommendations. Would you write a blog post about varnish?