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Belgium Linen vs Cotton

     They say Belgium Linen canvases are the best... it costs around 80 dollars for a 16x20... The cotton by the same manufacture "masterpiece" is for $20...  I have not used either or yet... I have been practicing on speedball boards (which I love) and cheap canvases which are terrible for portraits... 

The Masterpiece company offers canvases specifically for portraiture - with a very smooth surface... 

Do you guys think its worth the investment to get the Belgium Linen canvas for $80 when you are charging $800 for a 1 person portrait 16x20? Or is the Cotton made for portraiture comparable? There is the issue of how long it will live, but both are archival although the Linen says its "museum" quality... what do you guys think?

OFcourse you want your customers to get the best product possible, I totally am for that since it represents me and my work... but is the cotton THAT bad? 

Mark A


  • @Markalex777 Offer your clients a choice of cotton or linen, and then charge more for linen. I work on cotton canvas all the time but if the client wants it, and is willing to pay for it, I'll paint on anything.
  • Flatty, is the Claussen smooth for portraiture? 
  • Centurion brand primed linen is another alternative that is good and doesn't cost too much.
  • Tricky, conservation wise, I was going to ask the question "are you sizing (not as in shape but as in the glue layer) and priming your canvas yourself or is the canvas pre-sized and primed"  but let me just put down: 

    Cotton overtime has a better chance of rotting, absorbing unevenly, becoming brittle, and can warp,

    Look into Oil Primed Linen Panels.

  • The cotton offered by masterpiece is acrylic primed gesso - made portrait smooth for $50.00 for a 24x36. The same size for oil primed Belgium linen is $180.00 

    thank you all for your comments :)
  • Do you save any money by stretching your own linen canvases? ..i believe this is with the Claessens linen rolls but not the Centurion which come on panels ranging from 0.67 to 0.8 inches thick 
  • Well, first, I want to ask, do you like painting on linen? I personally don't like it. I really can't explain why. I just don't. I have yet to paint on linen on panel. Maybe I'll like that better? I have bought several linen pieces from Jerry's stated above. I will be applying them to panel soon and trying it out. 

    Yeah, so first, make sure YOU like what you are painting on, then go from there. 
  • Interestingly enough, there aren't many companies that are being sold on amazon. Masterpiece which is really great, and then their is fredrix which is much cheaper - i was about to order their linen when i saw that they were poorly rated, so i decided not to go for it and bought masterpiece cotton portrait smooth canvas instead... 

    The companies or manufacturs that you all mentinoed seem to not be on amazon... 

    Looking for ones that are pre=stretched and ready to go out of the box... 

    Not all linen and cotton are made the same as well... artist loft level 3 is not terrible - although i usually sand it down and add a few layers of gesso - the masterpiece portrait smooth cotton canvas is just a higher grade of cotton. So im assuming that with linen its the same thing. 
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