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 Panel, 16 x 20″
Fredrix is known for its reliable quality by students and accomplished artists alike. Covered with 100-percent cotton duck that’s been ready-primed with two coats of acrylic gesso, these 16-by-20-inch panels are ready to paint on, right out of the box. Mounted on an acid-free hardboard core, they are thicker than most other canvas panels and will hold up to wet media without buckling. They are also archival, ensuring the longevity of your painting. With a medium texture, the canvas has little absorption, so your paint will sit on the surface without soaking in.
2. Jack Richeson Cotton Canvas Panel, Extra Fine, 16 x 20″
The canvas on this 16-by-20-inch board has an extra-fine weave that accommodates fine detail, while the high-density fiberboard backing is both warp- and moisture resistant. To avoid any chemical interaction between the backing and your painting, the pH-neutral fiberboard has been double coated with gesso. The canvas is then adhered to the board with acid-free glue and triple primed.
3. Fredrix Canvas Boards, 5 x 7″, 12-Pack
Also by Fredrix, these 5-by-7-inch student-grade boards feature a a medium texture and an acid-free pre-primed surface. If you’re a teacher preparing a project for a large number of students, or an artist into making series or gangs of small paintings, this set is for you.
4. DaVinci Pro Liquid Art Multi-Media Panels, 16 x 20″, 3-Pack
This 16-by-20-inch canvas board has a 3/4-inch wood frame enclosing it and extending 1/8 of an inch past its surface. This inset allows more flexibility when pouring resins, encaustics, fluid acrylics, and other liquid mediums. This board is available in sizes as small as a 6-inch square and as large as 30 by 40 inches and in packs of either three or five.
5. Centurion Oil Primed Linen Panels, 16 x 20″, 3-Pack
With a classic look to it, this canvas board features a covering of 11-ounce oil-primed linen. Unlike other primers, oil primer bonds with oil paint and is completely nonabsorbent, allowing even the thinnest oil paints to sit on the canvas’s surface. The linen has a semi-smooth surface that works well for medium-detail painting and is adhered to a sturdy 1/8-inch MDF board.