Art Canvases and Painting Surfaces

Art Canvases and Painting Surfaces


Blick's art canvases and painting surfaces are created to accept and support media such as oil paint, acrylic paint, gouache, watercolors, pastels, and other media. Made from woven material, canvas is generally made from cotton or linen, or even synthetic materials. Blick offers the largest selection of blank canvases in standard canvas sizes, formats, and textures — from stretched canvas that is pre-mounted, pre-primed, and ready to paint, to canvas rolls for artists who want the flexibility of cutting their own custom sizes or generally create larger works of art.


Other popular painting surfaces include canvas panels and canvas boards, for those who prefer a more stable and portable type of blank canvas that travels well and sets up easily in the studio or in the field. Canvas boards and panels are covered with cotton or linen canvas that is mounted securely to a wood, wood fiber, or MDF backing, then turned under and glued securely to prevent fraying. Wood and hardboard panels are a substrate used prior to the 16th century that are still preferred by many artists to this day. They offer an archival alternative to stretched canvas that is best for non-flexible media such as tempera, encaustic, and casein paints. Hardwoods such as maple, birch, and basswood are the basis of these smooth surfaces that can be primed or painted on directly.


Other painting options that duplicate the experience of painting on canvas without the bulk of canvas, boards, or panels are painting paper and canvas pads. Generally available in pads, most painting paper is not actually canvas, but paper with a texture that resembles canvas. Genuine, primed artist canvas is also available in pads, for the ultimate in flexibility and portability — no easel required!


Shop for liquid art panels designed for fluid acrylics, glazing liquids, gels, grout, and encaustics. Blick also carries painting surfaces such as wood planks, bark edge panels, and other wood surfaces for home décor and craft use — ideal for painting, staining, hand lettering, and woodburning.


Shop our most popular stretched canvas sizes below:


Frequently Asked Questions

  • What's the difference between cotton duck canvas and linen canvas?

    Cotton duck canvas is much less expensive than linen and has become the most popular support for oil and acrylic painting, especially for students. A properly prepared cotton canvas has longevity similar to linen, and it's more flexible and easier to stretch properly. However, cotton duck is considered too flexible for very large paintings.

    Linen canvas with an oil primer is the classic standard for oil paintings. Though more expensive and harder to stretch properly, linen canvas offers the smoothest and stiffest painting surface and has proven longevity. Strong and durable, linen holds up to a heavy painting hand and doesn't become slack as easily as cotton canvas. For many artists, linen canvas is worth the investment.

  • What are the standard methods for attaching canvas to stretcher bars?

    There are three standard methods: side stapling, back stapling, and spline finishing.

    Side Stapling is the least expensive technique for securing the canvas to the stretcher bar because it uses less canvas. Finished pieces are generally framed to hide the staples.

    Back stapling is a more expensive finishing technique and requires more canvas, but it provides more selvage for future restretching. Some artists paint on the side as well as the face, creating works that don't require framing.

    Spline finishing is the most expensive finishing technique. Though some artists feel that it's not as easy to restretch a splined canvas as it is a back-stapled canvas, many artists choose splined canvas because it has a neater appearance than other finishes, and because it's popular with their customers. Splined canvas hangs tight to the wall.

  • How do I frame a canvas?

    Depending on the canvas, you may opt to hang your work without a frame. If you do choose to frame your canvas painting, canvas frames and open back frames are commonly used for stretched canvas or panels. These frames are meant to hang on the wall and don't have any glass or glazing material covering the work. Another option is a floating frame for canvas, which creates the illusion that your artwork is "floating" within the frame.

  • How are cross braces sized?

    When stretching your own large canvas, you may choose to add cross braces to your frame for extra stability. For the correct fit, order the cross brace in the same size as the stretcher bar to which it is parallel. The actual measurement of the cross brace will be shorter, but it will be sized to fit inside the assembled frame.