Choosing the Perfect Canvas

The Options are Endless!

A fresh Canvas is like a new landscape to build upon, an open road of new possibilities and a staple in any artist's creative arsenal. Some painting novices may assume that all canvas is the same and made from, well, canvas, but there are different types to choose from. Unfortunately, many of these artists just starting out might not know what kind of canvas to get. Here is a helpful guide to help out and get you the right canvas you need.

First off, the term "canvas" is kind of an umbrella term for any material that is used to support a painting. The most common type of canvas is cotton duck; then there is linen; also synthetic fiber, which is the least common. Each can be called a canvas and picking out the right one is a lot like picking out the perfect set of bed sheets. Here's why.

Cotton duck canvas is the most common and cheapest variety of canvas, but even it still comes in different weights and weaves. Weight refers to the thickness of material, while weave is a term for how tight the individual threads are woven. The cheapest of cotton canvases are those which are most loosely woven. (Similarly, the price and quality of sheets is determined by thread count.)

Linen on the other hand, is considered to be superior to cotton as the threads are narrower, or finer, and the weave is tighter. It is also a more expensive option.

For some artists, the choice halts here; many are opposed to using synthetic fiber canvases as they are not traditional and have not been around long enough for artists to really gauge their durability. The synthetic category is also much wider since essentially any material could be used provided it is strong enough to support the weight of the paint. Some of the cheapest canvases, however, are made from a blend of cotton and synthetic fiber, so realistically speaking, it may not be as easily avoided as some artists would like.

When choosing between cotton duck and linen, the needs of the artist are the most important thing to take into consideration, but experts say that ultimately, hands down, linen is the right choice in terms of strength and reliability. The tighter weave gives it a stronger surface , whereas cotton can distort a painting once it's stretched. However, cotton is generally easier to use and is available in either a smooth or more distinct texture. Linen may be more durable, but it is also pricier.

Once you've settled on a material, you've only just begun. The next phase is choosing a form. The options are stretched canvas, canvas boards, or canvas rolls. Heres where the choice is less like picking out bed sheets and more like pumping gas; your choices are regular, middle grade, or high end. 

  • Stretched Canvas is the most expensive and convenient of the three. It can easily be hung on a wall without a frame once painted. 
  • Canvas boards are cheaper versions of stretched canvas. They consist of heavy-duty card panels to which the canvas material is glued. 
  • Canvas rolls are the cheapest, also the least convenient and most time-consuming. It is exactly what it sounds like: a roll of canvas for you, the artist, to take what you want when you want. Once the canvas is cut to size, then it must be mounted on stretcher bars to hold it still and stop it from distorting your painting. 

All of the options here are great, none are necessarily better or worse than the other, its all about what you, the artist, wants. Its a matter of what suits a particular artist's tools, time and skill set. So what type of canvas do you like? Jerry's Artarama is the number one authority on artist grade professional canvases. So let us know in the comments below!


2013 Ampersand Art Contest Winners!


Give a Round of Applause for our 2013 Contest Winners!

We had so many great entries in our 2013 Ampersand Art Contest this year, it was a huge success! It's nice to know that Jerry's Artarama has so many talented artist friends. You all decided the winners on Facebook and here are the winners with their amazing entries! 

First Place Winner

"African Grey Parrot"
by Pringle Poirot

"I really like the quality of the Ampersand boards. I mainly use the Claybord and love how the paint flows. The super smooth surface is perfect for the finest details."


Second Place Winner

"Java, a tiger portrait in oils on Ampersand Gessoboard Panel"
by Sandra Cutrer

"Are you kidding me? Ampersand is totally "the" only board I trust to paint on! Smooth Gessobord panels, Claybord panels, Hardbord, or Aquabord. It gives me the perfect painting foundation, so I know I won't have to worry whether it looks great or not. I feel 100% confident using Ampersand boards!


Third Place Winner

by Allison Thomas

"I love the smooth surfaces of the Aquabords and they keep colors vivid."


Each of our winners won big with first place winning $350 in value in Ampersand products and Jerry's Artarama gift cards, followed by second place winning $181 worth of prizes and third place winning $135 dollars worth of prizes!

 Don't forget to enter one of our many fun and fantastic art contests -- maybe you will be our next big winner!


Turner Acryl Gouache, the super hybrid paint


It's a Gouache, it's an Acrylic, it's...Turner Acryl Gouache!

Although acrylic colors are very versatile and have been employed in more uses than any other type of paint, they still are lacking something, they have been missing the opacity and matte properties of gouache. If you were looking to get those matte and opaque colors with acrylics, you had to paint layer over layer again and again and then the surface of the painting would become so slippery, any overpainting was next to impossible! Well not anymore with Turner Acryl Gouache, the fast drying decorative acrylic!

Turner Acryl Gouache (pronounced gwaash) is a fast drying, matte acrylic paint that gives off opaque brilliance and can be laid down in many uses making acrylic paints even more versatile. It's fully pigmented and are most colors are totally light fast. Another great feature of the Acryl gouache is that the color stays constant. No matter how much you spread it, there won't be darker and lighter areas of the same color. The color stays throughout the drying process and is quite permanent as a result of the binding substance in gouache. They can also bind to just about any surface and have been used in many different ways from illustrations to tole painting to the world of fashion. Now, lets go over some of the great properties which make this paint so special.


Turner Acryl Gouache has been a favorite of illustrators and painters alike because of its easy paintability. It spreads smooth and consistent. The color doesn't vary from lighter to darker as much as other paints when spread out over a canvas or paper surface and if thinned with water, the colors can spread even further.


With the exceptions of their decorative and fluorescent paint ranges, Acryl Gouache is incredibly lightfast although this paint was not made for outdoor use, so indoor use is intended.


One of the main benefits of using a gouache is its adhesiveness since one of the main ingredients is some sort of glue like substance used to thicken it. The adhesiveness is what originally attracted Artists to use this paint for tole painting, or the painting of furniture, glass, metal, etc. Even though this is a hybrid acrylic gouache, it's adhesiveness is still much higher than other kinds of paints. It can bind to wood, stone, paper, metal, cloth, acryl board and even clay!

Quick Drying Time:

Since Acryl Gouache is such a pigment rich paint, it dries considerably quicker than acrylic colors and dries to a hard film. This is one of the reasons illustrators prefer using gouache and acrylic gouache-the quick drying time helps make deadlines! Word to the wise though: artists using this paint should be ready to keep their brushes and palettes wet because we aren't kidding about how fast this does dry.

Painted with Turner Acryl Gouache


Just like an acrylic paint, once dry, this paint is very water resistant and you can paint over it easily. Now if you thin the paint before use, some of the colors lose their water resistant properties, but for pure painting with them, they should be just fine.

And finally, price:

Turner Acryl Gouache can be found at a great value at Jerry's Artarama! And right now, you can find this paint at 62% off list price. It's a great opportunity to try out this versatile, easy to use, quick drying paint! And if you've used Turner Acryl Gouache before, let us know what you thought of it in the comments below. With 8 different color ranges, you'll definitely find what you're looking for!



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