New and need some advice.

Hello everyone. I’ve watched Bob Ross my whole life. I’m turning 51 now and want to give it a try. I’m looking at 18x24 double primed pre stretched canvases and have no idea which to buy? Some are 5 for $20 others are 5 for $60. Can someone tell me what I should be getting before spending any money? I don’t want to find out when trying that I’ve purchased the wrong thing, you know? Thanks in advance!


  • edited December 2022
    Hello @av8ersteve.
    I don't know what is your background in painting, is this your first painting ?
    If you are beginning, my personal experience has been that the first paintings are more playgrounds to get used to the paint, and evolve through try and error. Most of them will be nice to keep as a memory of your initial enthusiastic attempts, but not really to frame as a skillfull masterpiece that deserves to survive through history (at least that was my case). I have found trying to use expansive and cumbersome canvas as first attempts not only a loss of money but also intimidating and preventing you from experimenting things, as you tend to not want to screw it up. A good canvas won't make your fisrt paintings better. expansive linen canvas are just more archival and have a nicer texture, but this is not really a begginers concern as you will struggle with so many other variables. I have been using and am still using cheap primed canvas paper (a sheet of paper with the texture of canvas, see canson for instance), available in all sizes, that cost nearly nothing, very compact and feel much more free to explore the style I want to pursue. It's archival quality. I personally don't find a good idea to paint on expansive canvas untill you get quite confident that your work deserves to get displayed. And it's more easy to pile up and store decent but not masterfull exercises.  But don't use cheap paint, this would be really slowing you down in the process of learning. Van Gogh is a great compromise between fine and extra fine paint. 10$ for 200 mL of good paint. You won't be bothered with the transparency of student paint and won't be afraid to waist it for it's price.
    However, if you look at few first painters using DMP here, some of their first painting are truly masterpieces, so my advice might not be good for you if you are one like these.
    That's just my experience and what seems to work best for me. Others might have different opinion.
  • Right, use oil paper. If you do not do impasto, you can use both sides. Buy large sheets and cut it. And do not buy lots of different colours, just minimum. Read about split primary palette. But always buy large tubes of white, it goes several times faster.
  • edited December 2022
    If you use both sides be careful that the paper is primed on both sides otherwise the oil will get absorbed in the paper fibers and it can rot.
  • edited December 2022
    All good advice above. The effort, time and expense involved in preparing and stretching a good canvas is probably not warranted when we're just starting out. And quality ready stretched canvases are expensive. If you are anything like me and most others you'll have a high failure rate in the early stages. But perhaps "failure is the wrong word. It's more accurate to say you will have many "learning experiences" as you develop your skills. It might be worth keeping some of these learning experiences to see your progress but, unless your wealthy and have plenty of time, it's best to do them on cheaper substrates like the paper mentioned above. You can also buy fairly cheap sheets of canvas that come in a pad like the paper mentioned above and you just tear one off and pin it to a board. And, as mentioned above, it's much easier to store these than stretched canvases. And @Adrdri is right about the paint. Use a good professional grade paint. You'll get better results and it will last longer than student grade paints which are "hues" made with cheaper pigments and which are full of fillers and have a low pigment load.

    Welcome to the forum and all the best on your painting journey.  :)
  • this is good information. I just started out stretching my canvasses myself straight away. But I love the whole process of doing that and mixing my own colours and medium etc. So whether you like doing that can be something to take into account.  :)
  • Agree with above. I began with cheap canvas boards bought at the discount stores or wherever. Simple as simple. I think your cheap double-primed stretch canvases sound fine also or the paper as suggested.
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