What to Pay Attention to When Buying Canvas for Acrylic Art

Ask any painter and they’ll likely tell you that canvas is their surface of choice when it comes to preparing art. The end result of a painting made of canvas gives it a professional touch, but when you’re new to buying this type of support for art, you might be a little lost as to where to start.

Choosing the right canvas to paint on is just as important as deciding what you’re going to paint, and even when using a system like paint by numbers it will have a huge effect on the finished product. The difference between a good picture and a great one could all come down to the type of painting canvas you use, so you have to make sure to buy one that’s quality.

This simple guide can show you through the many features to consider when choosing your canvas material for painting. You’ll have to factor in size, price, quality, and even the type of paint you’re using, but with the right pick it will be well worth the effort.

The Different Types of Canvas

Canvas has been the support of choice for painters since the 16th century, and it’s because of the two major benefits it offers. First, a painting done on canvas will outlast all other surfaces, and the way that the canvas material is receptive to the brush means your artwork will undoubtedly turn out better.

There are different types of canvas to choose from though, and not all of them will be right for each artist. Most kits will come with a pre-assembled canvas board, but consider these other types when you’re on the hunt for the best canvas for paint by numbers.

Canvas rolls

Large rolls of canvas that you can paint on and then stretch or hang depending on what you want to do with the final product. Serious artists often have rolls of this available to save some money but still keep the high quality of the canvas.

Stretched canvas

These come in various sizes and have already been stretched onto a board so they’re ready to paint on and hang as soon as you’re done. They’re usually more expensive but higher quality.

Canvas panels

A cheaper alternative for those who can’t afford the real deal is a canvas panel which features a piece of primed material mounted on a board. Materials used for these include hessian, calico, and muslin.

Canvas pads

Just like a notebook, these are smaller pads of paper made out of canvas. They’re ideal for practicing and come in a spiral bound notebook that makes it easier to rip out pages as you need. Most pads are made of canvas paper and not as durable as the other materials so they’re better left for practice.

Features to Consider When Shopping for Canvas

You might not realize just how many features there are to consider when shopping for canvas, and the initial search can be overwhelming. Before you find the perfect choice for painting, think about these features and what might be the best support for your work of art.


Just like other art supplies, the quality of the canvas varies significantly. The cheaper materials like muslin and calico are still enjoyable to paint on but won’t last as long. Something more expensive like linen or cotton will yield the best results.


Most canvas products made for art have been primed as a way to make them more receptive to paint and able to last longer. Look for something that matches your paint, like an acrylic primer or universally primed surface.


Purchasing a canvas that’s already been stretched onto a board means you need to know the exact measurements of what you’re painting. This can be a challenge for some artists as it then restricts whatever you’re working on. There are three main categories of small, medium, and large, and their most common sizes start at 4 x 6” and as large as 36 x 48”. Mini canvases are anything under 4 x 6” but not usually used for paint by numbers.


A rectangular canvas is the most common shape and this is what you’ll find most paint by numbers kits featuring with their chosen image. However, you do have the option to mix it up a bit with a square or circular canvas, but you can expect to pay more for them.


Cheaper materials start as low as a few dollars for a stretched piece and extend into the hundreds of dollars for higher quality. The size and shape will also affect the total cost of the canvas and how it’s been prepared.


There are a few main choices for canvas material and they will impact receptiveness of the paintbrush, durability, longevity, and price. Common choices are natural materials like linen, cotton, muslin, and hessian.

Finding the Ideal Foundation For Your Art

The surface or support you choose for your painting will impact so many parts of it. Canvas is the top choice for serious and beginner artists because it gives you a smooth and reliable surface to work with, and ensures the very best outcome from your paintbrush.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when choosing canvas and many deciding factors that can impact it. For the beginner artists working on paint by numbers, you don’t have to spend too much if you’re not ready for it, but once you feel confident in your skills it’s worthwhile to splurge on some quality canvas.

One of the best parts about creating art is being able to show it off and that’s what makes canvas such a good choice. You’ll be able to hang your art at home or gift it to a friend, and the support of the canvas underneath will make a world of difference.

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