For those unwilling or unable to splurge on traditional stretched linen, canvas boards are a good alternative. Canvas boards are made of cotton canvas, primed to absorb paint, then stretched over and glued on a cardboard backing. Boards are ideal for beginners looking to practice the basics, or professionals interested in quick studies. They’re lightweight too, and pretty easy to transport. Remember, though, canvas panels do not offer the same quality as standard stretched canvas, which will affect the permanence of your painting. Find the canvas board best suited to your needs from among the selection below.
1. Arteza Canvas Panels
The core of Arteza’s canvas boards is made from high-quality materials to ensure maximum durability. Economically priced, pre-primed, and individually wrapped, there’s not much preparation necessary to begin painting. The texture is best suited for heavier paints, such as oil or acrylics, but the canvas will also take watercolor without excess absorption. If you’re looking for a material that will age well, this may not be your best option.
2. US Art Supply Canvas Boards
From the reliable US Art Supply, these canvas boards are ideal for students, hobbyists, and professionals. They’re heavier than most on the market, which means they can handle multiple layers of thick acrylic paint, airbrushing, tempera, and gouache without leaking through the canvas and soaking the board. This is because they are pre-primed with a serious layer of acid-free white gesso, which helps paint spread more smoothly. The generous protective layer does make it difficult for thinner liquids to absorb into the canvas, so those working in watercolor may be disappointed.
3. Artlicious Canvas Panels
This is an economical 12-pack of 8-by-10-inch canvas boards, ideal for preliminary sketches. Each canvas arrives individually wrapped, is constructed from 100% cotton duck, and boasts an evenly applied layer of priming acrylic gesso. This is not the board to create your masterpiece, but for the price, it’s hard to find a better surface for practicing.
4. Fixsmith Canvas Boards
This set of 24 mini canvas boards offers both quantity and quality for those looking to create artworks on a smaller, more convenient scale (they’re 5 by 7 inches). The boards are constructed from cotton that hasn’t been treated with any alkaline chemicals. This maintains the cotton’s fiber flexibility and tension, which in turn protects your board from sagging with age. Additionally, paints blend across the canvas surface with ease, compared to boards with a more raised texture. This is a great product for the price, and each canvas panel being individually wrapped helps keep the gesso from being scratched.
5. Phoenix Canvas Boards
These ribbed boards come in 12 packs in your choice of sizes; they’re primed with three layers of protective gesso to ensure they don’t warp, mold, or crack with age and use. The high-quality formula keeps the board appropriately pliable too, to better withstand tension in a variety of temperatures. The canvas is stretched snugly over the panel, and imperfections on the canvas are rare. The thick priming, however, makes these less than ideal for artists working in watercolor. This a good alternative to high-priced stretched linen canvas. A fun feature for kids: there’s a label on the back to record the artwork’s title, date, and other information. For older artists looking to perfect their practice or produce a high volume of artworks, this is an ideal buy.