Copyright 2011 Monika Murray Art. All rights reserved.
Monika Murray's
Artistic Affairs
My Art Blog
Welcome to my art blog.  I hope you'll enjoy the journey
through the wonderful world of art history, oil painting and
other art related topics just as much as me.  I write these
articles to express my passion for art and also because I'm
a knowledge seeking individual and I love to learn more.
April 29, 2011

Oil Painting Supports for Beginners
Copyright 2011 Monika Murray Art. All rights reserved.
Oil painting support is any surface that an artist can apply an oil paint on.  There
are several different types of oil painting support on the market and each and
every one of them has different qualities.  As an artist I would encourage you to
check them all out and see which support you like the best and which one suits
your painting style and budget.  In my opinion choosing the right painting
support is one of the most important decisions you can make for your future

Cotton duck canvas
Cotton duck is a type of textile derived from cotton plant and cotton duck canvas
is the most popular and least expensive canvas on the market.  It comes in
variety of grades and weights.  You can buy it pre-stretched, in rolls, primed and
un-primed.  Most beginner painters buy ready to use pre-stretched canvas
which are very convenient; just unwrap and paint.  Pre-stretched canvas usually
come in two styles: regular style and gallery wrap which refers to the thickness
of the bars supporting the canvas.  Gallery wrap is considerably more
expensive because it’s wrapped around thicker wooden bars (1.5" profile).  
This type of canvas offers crisp, deep and clean edges and can be hung
framed or unframed.  Regular style canvas is wrapped around thinner stretcher
bars (3/4" profile) and most will require a frame to achieve a nice and finished
look once ready for hanging.   In addition to difference in bar thickness the
canvases can differ in thickness  of cotton duck itself so make sure you check
to ensure you’re getting the quality that’s important to you.

Linen canvas
Linen is type of textile derived from a flax plant.  The fibers of the flax plant are
long and strong and make it for a very durable painting support.  Many paintings
executed on linen supports have withstood the test of time.  Just like cotton
canvas, linen canvas comes pre-stretched, in rolls, primed or un-primed.  It
also comes in variety of textures, weights and smooth or rough finish.  Linen
canvas is far superior to cotton duck in terms of its strength, durability and
resistance to decay but that comes at a hefty price.  Linen canvas are much
more expensive than cotton and therefore many beginner painters refrain from
using them.  

Canvas pads
Canvas pads are great for oil painting beginners to experiment and learn.  You
can paint on the pad and once the painting is done, if you like it, you can glue it
to a rigid support such as masonite or wood panel.  

Canvas boards
Canvas boards are very inexpensive and great for doing studies.  They are
made from primed canvas stretched and adhered to a rigid cardboard backing.

Masonite boards
Masonite is a manufactured product made from wood.  Wood chips are blasted
with steam into long fibers and formed into boards which are then pressed and
heated to form a finished product.  For oil painting masonite can be primed with
acrylic gesso or canvas can be glued on top of it.  It is very inexpensive and
excellent painting support.  One thing to keep in mind however is that large
masonite boards have tendency to bend and therefore for larger paintings extra
backing support would be well advised.

Wood panels
Wood panels  make great oil painting support and are an excellent alternative
to stretched canvas.  You can paint on both hardwood and plywood panels
provided they are prepared properly and are the right type of wood suitable for
oil painting.  Soft wood such as pine is not recommended because it does not
resist moisture very well.  One thing to keep in mind regarding wood panels is
their heavier weight.  The larger the size of the panel the heavier the painting
will be.  Plywood panels are not that bad weight wise but hardwood can get
pretty heavy.   Art stores these days carry very nice birch plywood panels that are
relatively inexpensive and beautifully finished.  You can prime them with acrylic
gesso, glue a canvas on the top or paint straight on without any modifications.  
I've been using them myself for my miniature paintings and I really enjoy them.

These are in a nutshell the most popular oil painting supports.   I hope you
enjoyed the reading.

Happy Painting!!