The Blank Canvas: Little Known Facts About A Popular Medium

A horizontal line on blank canvas can send the artistic mind on an epic journey of creation.  The blank canvas can be the painter’s best friend or worst enemy.  In some cases, the blank canvas can simultaneously encourage and antagonize the artist that seeks to alter its surface.  How the canvas is used to tell a story is up to the willing mind and creative spirit, unafraid to let their ideas metamorphose and project themselves with urgent force.

The painter’s canvas can be made from varying types of fibers that act as the perfect surface for oil and acrylic paints.  The most common types of blank canvas for painting are cotton and linen.  There are important differences between the two materials that may affect the end result of an artist’s vision, although both are wildly popular.

In this article, you will learn about the cotton canvas.

Here are a few key facts about blank canvas for the curious artist!

The Cotton Plant


  • According to eHow Contributor Carlos Mano, “The word ‘canvas’ has come to mean any durable, simply woven fabric made of natural fibers.”
  • Cotton canvas was commonly called “cotton duck” in from 1900 to 1940.  Although the tightly woven cotton duck was not made of actual duck feathers but of long durable linen cloth, it was as light as one and offered a sturdy and affordable alternative to the traditional hemp based canvases that were popular at the time.
  • In the early development of canvas for paintings, it was discovered that oil paints could actually rot canvas fibers!  To prevent the deterioration of artwork, a coat of gesso became the best applicable technique for all canvas.  The substance prevents the oil paints from destroying the canvas fibers.  An acrylic version of gesso is available for the organic artist.
  • Cotton comes from the cotton plant!
Cotton Canvas | An Artist’s Friend or Foe?
Who would have thought that the blank canvas packed such a historical punch?


Both cotton and linen canvases are available at art supply stores and wholesalers, and general craft and hobby stores. For the best value, try an online art supplier that will offer you hand-stretched and customized canvas options. There’s no better feeling than that of having a custom blank canvas, big enough for the grand scheme of your creative idea with a small price that fits your budget.

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