Canvas Weave?

I don't paint on Canvas or Linen and I'm not a fan of the weave texture, except.. I do like this diagonal 'Twill' pattern and I've only ever seen it used in a few paintings in galleries:

What is everyone else's favourite surface texture, or do you prefer a smooth finish?


  • I used to use the stuff they called "hardboard."  In the early days it was called Masonite. I have since come to use canvas board because I've gotten lazy in my end-time years.  I used to gesso the smooth side of Masonite panels.  I'd apply the gesso quite thickly, and as it began to set up, I would scratch it with an old stiff whisk broom.  Sometimes, I would used balled up newspaper or plastic sheets and press patterns into it.  I do this with canvas board, too, sometimes.  Makes for interesting painting surfaces if you're into that kind of thing.
  • edited September 10
    I've never seen that weave before, @Richard_P.

    I like a bit of texture to grab paint when I scumble. I don't mind what weave it is, but I like the texture of the weave to be very even all over the canvas without odd bumps and ridges. The more expensive canvas and linen has a more even texture than the cheap stuff. 
  • edited September 10
    I find canvas a bit like trying too paint over a ploughed field (not that ive tried that  :) )

    I like a very smooth surface so if I am using canvas I will gesso it to make smoother.

    Belle Arti gesso wooden panels are my favourite and I get them from Jackson’s.

    At a workshop I did recently the artist/instructor gave me some of the PVC `canvas` from the roll he uses.

    That was ultra smooth.
  • I do not paint on canvas because of potential longevity problems. When I did, I didn't like the big weave found on commonly available American cotton canvases.

    I paint on Arches oil paper, which I seal with acrylic medium front and back, and then usually put on some acrylic ground (sanded down a little to level it) or lead white ground (NO sanding!) or just lead white oil paint.  My paint sticks just fine to any of these. (Since I seal the front and back, there is very little movement of the surface due to changing humidity and thus is an archivally sound surface. ...I hear the knives being sharpened as I type  :)  ) The surface texture I like best is very slightly toothy. The absorbency I like best is very little.  

    If I drink too much coffee before applying a ground, I will put a pattern in the wet ground with a bristle brush. One can mimic canvas weave, or put in undulating lines or crosshatching or whatever. Sometimes I will put on a particular pattern based on the individual composition I have in mind for that surface. I don't like prepping surfaces so tend to do it in big batches at long intervals. 

    Painting on thin paper, not glued to a backing until I am finished, is convenient in several ways: easy to store because no depth; cheap to use and then throw away my mistakes, etc. 
  • My favourite surfaces are dibond and paper too :)
  • @Desertsky what Is the weight of the arches oil paper that you use?

    I normally paint on Dibond ACM parks but occasionally paint on canvases. I like the bit of give in canvas.  

    I am experimenting with canvas primed with three layers of a 50/50 mix of gesso and modeling paste.  The mix is put on using a razor blade that has the corners rounded.  The surface is as smooth as an eggshell.  It is different so it will be interesting to see if I like it or not.

  • GTO said:
    I am experimenting with canvas primed with three layers of a 50/50 mix of gesso and modeling paste.  The mix is put on using a razor blade that has the corners rounded.  The surface is as smooth as an eggshell.  It is different so it will be interesting to see if I like it or not.

    That's interesting! I know some of Rembandt's paintings used a silica (sand) ground which made a very smooth surface too.
  • Stephen Bauman uses Stonehenge oil paper exclusively now for painting. No need to gesso it. 

  • @GTO - Arches oil paper is 140 lb (300 gsm). It is advertised as fully sized and not needing any additional alteration, but I like the surface and non-warping which my modifications give. If the painting is a success, then I can mount it to ACM or hardboard. I use a plastic card (even an old credit card will do) to spread out the ground, then smooth it or texturize it with a brush. 

    The oil paper's original surface is like eggshell. You may like it.  

    GTO, do you mean an acrylic ground when you write "gesso?"  If your canvas is mounted and not stretched, then I think you can get interesting affects. If your canvas remains stretched after your painting is finished, I think it risks cracking from the modeling paste. Here is the description from Dick Blick: "Modeling Paste can be used to create a textured ground for painting, for collage, for relief sculpture, etc. It dries opaque white, hard, and stiff. Apply it to rigid surfaces only, and in thin layers to avoid cracking."  
  • Thanks @Desertsky. The gesso is acrylic.  I am hoping thinning the modeling past down with the gesso and applying it thinly will avoid any cracking.   I like your idea of mounting oil paper.  I am painting a bit large 24”x24” lately so I would need large oil paper.
  • @GTO - Please keep us posted on your modeling paste on canvas innovations. At the 24 x 24 inch size, I suspect that you will be better off doing more intensive prep work before painting. At that size, I find unsupported, unmounted oil paper to sag and ripple a little with the weight of the paint and maybe the humidity. If I put on the front and back a thin coat of acrylic medium, it will stay completely flat. 
    This is absolutely against most advice and accepted wisdom about paper! 

    If you find oil paper works for you, you can buy a roll of 51 inches x10 yards for $240. Ouch. This has gone up about 30% in the past 2 years in the US.

    ...Arches oil paper description used to state it was 100% cotton. Now it just states "natural;" this is since the Canson company bought the Arches papermill. I have never used Stonehenge but it has a good reputation. Another option is to use Rives BFK printmaking paper (100% cotton), but you will have to size it first. 

    I find paper to be more dimensionally stable when it is sized front and back than prepped canvas. Again, against conventional wisdom, but it is an apples to oranges comparison since I know of nobody who sizes the front and back of canvas. (Even though I think it would be a good idea as it will prevent the constant humidity fluctuations which cause so many problems.)
  • dencaldencal -
    edited September 11
    Paper enthusiasts can choose from heaps of smart papers on the market.
    The indestructible, archival polypropylene product YUPO will take any medium you want to throw at it.

  • dencal said:

    The indestructible, archival polypropylene product YUPO will take any medium you want to throw at it.
    I would still suggest brushing it on for a better surface.
  • GTOGTO -
    edited September 11
    @Desertsky. Here’s a photo of how thinly I’ve applied the 50/50 mix.  I have a side light in the canvas to better show the texture. It fills in a lot of the canvas texture but still leaves some for paint application.  I’ve shown the razor blade I used to smooth out the mix while it was wet in the surface.  I don’t think there is a lot of risk of cracking this way.  I also show the back side where I had to add an additional cross brace to keep the canvas square.    The canvas came with the vertical brace.  Why they did not include a second brace doesn’t make sense. So I added that.

  • @GTO - Thank you for the photos - very clear. You do apply the mixture very thin! The additional bracing seems to be a good idea. I hope you share photos of this, front and back, after you paint on it.  

    a long time ago, I messed up several canvas on stretcher surfaces after an acrylic instructor directed me to prep the raw canvas with traditional glue-chalk gesso. I put on thin, and every one of them cracked into lozenge shapes before I painted on them. 
  • @GTO, I find that keeping my canvas square while stretching is very difficult. I'm going to try your dual braces. :)
  • @Dencal - Thanks for the suggestion regarding Yupo. I looked it up; it sounds interesting, and is much less expensive than the Arches oil paper. Nonabsorbent and smooth. Very nice. 

    My apologies to Richard_P for the accidental hijacking of his threads. Hey - have you tried Yupo? :) 
  • Is Yupo just for water colors?
  • dencaldencal -
    edited September 14

    The indestructible, archival polypropylene product YUPO will take any medium you want to throw at it.
    Pastel, chalk and charcoal would benefit from a textured primer. Oil and acrylic would benefit from an acrylic ground colour. Inks and watercolour and graphite straight on.

  • corduroy structure, feels soft
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