Friday, February 27, 2009

Linen versus Canvas

I received a comment from Ellen who asks, "I see that you paint on linen. I have only used canvas. What is this linen all about, and can I buy it in an art supply store?"

You can buy linen in the same forms as you would buy canvas—primed or unprimed, pre-stretched, by the yard, or in rolls. I usually buy mine from Dick Blick, and most major art suppliers carry a wide selection. I always buy primed linen or canvas to save time.

Aside from what you are willing to spend, probably two of the most important factors to consider when purchasing linen or canvas is the weight and the texture. There are light to heavy weights and extra-fine to large grain textures. I am most concerned with the texture, and I prefer extra fine because I like the smoothness and the way it takes the paint. I am still searching for a suitable linen or canvas with a texture I enjoy and a price I am willing to pay.

Canvas is usually made of cotton. Linen comes from the flax plant. Cotton is more readily available and can be cheaper to manufacture into canvas, whereas the flax plant grows best in Belgium and France and takes more resources to produce. The fiber strength is stronger in linen, and linen is better for archival purposes.

All said, I think linen looks better than canvas, and there are affordable linens out there. You just have to do some research, look at some samples if possible, and figure out what will work best for you.

What type of linen or canvas to you prefer? Please leave a comment...

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