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 stiff backing (usually medium-density fiberboard, or MDF). 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. They are well suited for use with acrylics and oils, but less so for other mediums and techniques—using them for pour painting, for instance, may cause MDF-based boards to warp. And remember that 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. Fredrix Canvas Panels
Fredrix is known for its reliable quality by students and accomplished artists alike. These panels are ready to paint on, right out of the box. Thicker than most other canvas panels, they will hold up to wet media without buckling, and the paper on the backing board is acid free, ensuring the longevity of your painting. With a medium texture, the canvas has little absorption, so your paint will sit, mix, and flow right on the surface as opposed to soaking in. This pack contains three 16-by-20-inch panels.
2. Jack Richeson Cotton Canvas Panel, Extra Fine
The canvas on this board has an extra-fine weave that accommodates the fine detail. To avoid any chemical interaction between the backing and your painting, the underlying panel is a pH-neutral fiberboard that has been double coated with gesso. The canvas is then adhered to the board with acid-free glue. The canvas is is triple primed with high-quality gesso, while the high-density fiberboard is both warp- and moisture-resistant.
3. Fredrix Cut Edge Mini Canvas Panels
Also by Fredrix, these boards feature a a medium texture and an acid-free pre-primed surface. This particular set comes in a pack of 60. If you’re a teacher preparing a project for a large number of students, or an artist into painting miniatures, . The canvases themselves are small (measuring less than 3 inches square), but if you’re into mini art, this is the set for you.
4. DaVinci Pro Liquid Art Multi-Media Panels
What is unique about this 16-by-20-inch canvas board is the wood frame that encloses it, creating a 1/8-inch-deep inset. The board itself is 3/4 inches thick. For some, that might mean a traditional oil or acrylic painting with a more finished look to hang on a wall. For others, the inset allows more options when layering or pouring paints, resins, glazing liquids, and the like. This board is available in sizes as small as a 6-inch square and as large as 24 by 30 inches.
5. Claessens RayMar Linen Panel
With a classic look to it, this canvas board is covered with Belgian linen that has an irregular weave. While the weave is visible after priming, the canvas itself has been double-coated for a semi-smooth surface that works well with medium-detail painting. The primer is specific to oil painting and is not advised for other media.