11 Best Canvases For Oil Painting On A Tight Budget In 2022

Different types of canvases for oil paintings

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If you are looking to paint using oil, you must understand the available canvases. When choosing a canvas for an oil painting, many factors to consider, including weight, cost, and durability. This article will help you better decide on the best oil canvas for painting.

Our Top Picks

Phoenix Cotton Stretched Canvascheck price button

Best Overall - Phoenix Cotton Stretched Canvas

Removes grease and oils from your brushes
• Triple-primed with acid-free gesso
• AP & CE-certified canvas

US Art Supply Stretched Canvascheck price button

Best Multi-Size Pack - US Art Supply Stretched Canvas

• 4 sizes in one pack
• Durable & stable stretcher bars
• Triple-primed with acid-free gesso

Best for Thumbnail Paintings - Academy Art Supply 3x3" Canvas

• Primed with acid-free gesso
• Kiln-dried, glued stretcher bars
• Premium-quality cotton canvas

1. Phoenix Cotton Stretched Canvas - Best Overall

Phoenix Cotton Stretched Canvas

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 Pros Cons
  • 100% premium-quality cotton canvas
  • Pinewood stretcher bars
  • Triple-primed with acid-free gesso
  • AP & CE-certified canvas
  • Strong enough to hold impasto painting
  • No midline stretcher bar
  • Slightly warped stretcher bars



What Customers Have to Say

This large-format canvas is a favorite among artists because of its excellent quality and value, and many users promise to repurchase them. Even if you are a beginner artist, this canvas works for you.

Phoenix Cotton Stretched Canvas

Why We Think Its Great

Impressively durable, Phoenix Cotton Stretched Canvases offer a professional painting surface for your next masterpiece. It uses durable pinewood for the stretcher bars that won't buckle even if you do impasto painting or acrylic pouring on it.

With triple-primed acid-free gesso and strong enough to hold impasto painting, these canvases are perfect for artists of all skill levels. The canvas itself is a 4-ounce canvas, but it weighs 8 ounces after the priming.

The pack has five 16x20-inch canvases fit for any professional or beginner artist. It also bears the AP and CE mark, so you know you're dealing with a safe material for your painting activities.

Who Should Buy It

Phoenix Cotton Stretched Canvas is the perfect choice for artists who want to host painting parties and events. It is also suitable for artists looking for canvases large enough for their masterpieces.

2. US Art Supply Stretched Canvas Multi-Pack - Best Multi-Size Pack

US Art Supply Stretched Canvas Multi-Pack

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 Pros Cons
  • 4 sizes in one pack
  • Durable & stable stretcher bars
  • Triple-primed with acid-free gesso
  • Works for different painting techniques
  • Premium quality cotton canvas
  • Canvas may sag after a while
  • Stretcher bars are not as the claimed 3/4" width


What Customers Have to Say

The canvases are excellent and perfect for several projects because of their multiple sizes. Artists love their quality and value to the users, repeat buyers.

US Art Supply Stretched Canvas Multi-Pack

Why We Think Its Great

This canvas super pack includes four different sizes of stretched canvas (11x14", 16x20", 18x24", and 24x36"). The stretcher bars come from environmentally-managed forests, kiln-dried for durability and stability.

Instead of stapling on the sides, the staples are on the stretcher bars underneath, so you have a clean canvas. The stretcher bars are also very sturdy so that they won't buckle even after years of use. US Art Supply used premium quality canvas, triple-primed with acid-free gesso to ensure that your oil canvas paintings will last a long time.

Who Should Buy It

This multi-size canvas set is an excellent choice for artists looking for several sizes to work on.

3. Conda Stretched Canvas

Conda Stretched Canvas

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 Pros Cons
  • 100% pure cotton canvas
  • Pinewood stretcher bars
  • Triple-primed with acid-free gesso
  • 5-pack set
  • Responsive customer service
  • Patchy priming
  • Stretcher bars are not as thick as advertised

What Customers Have to Say

They're not the best canvases for professionals, but they work well for beginners who want to practice their oil painting skills. However, you may experience some warping when painted with impasto since the stretcher bars are thinner than the 5/8" dimension as advertised.

Why We Think Its Great

Conda Stretched Canvas is the perfect way to create beautiful pieces of art. It uses 100% premium cotton canvas stretched over pinewood bars to provide a sturdy base for your artwork. The manufacturer used acid-free gesso to protect the canvas and improve the oil paints

Each canvas has an individual wrapping to protect them during shipping and until you are ready to use them. The canvas measures 11x14 inches with 5/8-inch thick stretcher bars, which are admittedly thinner to our liking because of the canvas size. Conda also has very responsive customer service, so you can contact them if you have any issues with the product.

Who Should Buy It

This student-grade canvas set is best for beginners looking for an affordable, but quality stretched canvas for their oils and acrylic paintings. You may even use it as a watercolor canvas and for tempera painting.

4. Artilicious Blank Canvas Boards

Artilicious Blank Canvas Boards

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 Pros Cons
  • 12 individually packed canvas panels
  • Acid-free cotton canvas
  • Cheaper than stretched canvas
  • Strong MDF board backing
  • Suits all ages
  • Buckles when applied with too much paint
  • Thin canvas



What Customers Have to Say

Some satisfied customers used these canvas panels as party favors for kids, along with some cheap acrylic paints. Other users brought these canvases to their painting outings. They are very portable and easy to frame once finished.

Artilicious Blank Canvas Boards

Why We Think Its Great

Artilicious Blank Canvas Boards are a way to get your canvas on without the hefty price tag. They use an MDF board backing and acid-free canvas, wrapped individually in plastic to protect it from draught and moisture during travel and storage.

Though they're not stretched canvas, the strong MDF backing gives it enough support. They work well for outdoor painting activities, and kids can use them. You can use it for oils, acrylics, tempera, or watercolors, though we don't recommend impasto paintings as the thick layers of paint causes the board to buckle and warp.

Each pack has 12 canvas boards in 8x10-inch sizes so it fits a regular 8x10-inch frame. It is also available in different sizes, 4x6", 9x12", 11x14", and 12x16" rectangles, and 4x4", 5x5", 6x6", 8x8", and 12x12" squares.

Who Should Buy It

These canvas panels are very affordable, so it is best for parents looking for materials that their kids can use for their paintings. We also recommend these panels for beginner artists and those who love outdoor painting.

5. Arteza Black Stretched Canvas

Arteza Black Stretched Canvas

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 Pros Cons
  • 100% premium cotton surface
  • Acid-free cotton canvas
  • Sturdy construction
  • Works for other crafts
  • Good for acrylic pouring
  • Not true black canvas
  • Some corners are skewed

What Customers Have to Say

Customers love Arteza for its high-quality products and good value. Though it is not a black canvas primed with black gesso, the gesso application is equal so that you won't find any flaws or dimpling on the canvas.

Why We Think Its Great

Arteza Black Stretched Canvas is a strong and durable, acid-free canvas that you can use for your most treasured crafts and artworks. It offers an all-in-one solution for your crafting and painting needs since you can use it for oil and acrylic painting or acrylic pouring projects.

The 12x12-inch black canvas makes your paintings pop out better, but you have to use metallic or opaque paint on them to make the artwork visible. You can also use it for egg tempera paintings.

The acid-free surface does not cause discolorations on your paintings, so the paints remain vibrant. The sturdy pinewood stretcher supports the canvas so you can display your finished oil painting without needing to frame it.

Who Should Buy It

Black stretched canvas is an excellent choice for artists who want to use black canvas instead of traditional canvases. We also recommend them for crafters who want to create other artworks aside from painting.

6. Fixsmith Stretched White Blank Canvas

Fixsmith Stretched White Blank Canvas

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 Pros Cons
  • 100% pure cotton canvas
  • Pinewood stretcher bars
  • Triple-primed gesso
  • 6 stretched panels per pack
  • 100% money-back guarantee
  • Paint rolls off from the canvas
  • Not perfectly stretched

What Customers Have to Say

The canvas slacks after painting, but some artists recommend spraying the back of the canvas with water to tighten it. Fixsmith Stretched White Blank Canvas also works excellent with reverse canvas paintings, and you can use the canvas frame for display after a minor tweaking.

Why We Think Its Great

How excited are you to explore your artistic side? The Fixsmith Stretched White Blank Canvas is the perfect canvas for any creation. For starters, it uses 100% cotton fabric, triple-primed with acid-free gesso, and stretched over pinewood bars that ensure clarity and unrestricted stroke.

Each pack has six stretched panels stapled on the underside for a cleaner look. The product also has a 100% money-back guarantee for no-hassle refunds and replacements.

Who Should Buy It

This canvas pack is best for artists looking for practice canvas or selling small canvas paintings. It also works for students and art teachers.

7. Arteza Large-Format Stretched Canvas

Arteza Large-Format Stretched Canvas

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 Pros Cons
  • Reinforced stretcher bars
  • Sturdy construction
  • Primed with acid-free gesso
  • 6 blank canvases per pack
  • Responsive customer care
  • Thin stretcher bars
  • Canvas is a bit loose

What Customers Have to Say

Customers are delighted with the outcome of their paintings using this large-format canvas. They are also very affordable for their size and quantity, which is a plus for many artists struggling with budgets.

Why We Think Its Great

Arteza is a famous brand for affordable yet quality acrylic and oil paints and painting supplies, including canvases and drawing pads for different mediums. Having artists for owners and designers of Arteza products helps a lot because they know what their fellow artists love.

Paint directly without worrying about the outcome of your oil paintings on this 100% cotton canvas, primed with acid-free gesso. The stretcher bar features diagonal reinforcements to withstand the weight of the paint on the canvas. Each pack has six 24x30-inch stretched canvas. We wish it has a pack of 3s so the artists won't spend a large amount on canvas alone.

If you find any issue with the product, do not hesitate to reach out to the company. Their responsive customer service will address the issue promptly so you can get a refund or replacement for your items.

Who Should Buy It

Arteza Large-Format Stretched Canvas is a product for professional and amateur artists alike. These canvases are perfect for artists who love large-format canvases for their paintings. When used horizontally, you can use it for landscapes and portraits.

8. Practica Pre-Stretched Cotton Canvas

Practica Pre-Stretched Cotton Canvas

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 Pros Cons
  • 100% cotton duck cotton
  • Slim profile stretcher bars
  • Sturdy canvas
  • Tightly stretched canvas
  • Economical
  • Thin gesso priming
  • No center reinforcement

What Customers Have to Say

Many customers are repeat buyers, buying the smaller format before moving to the larger format canvases.

Why We Think Its Great

Introducing Practica Pre-Stretched Cotton Canvas, made of 100% cotton duck cotton. It has a slim profile stretcher bar, making it sturdy and economical. The tightly stretched canvas will allow you to make a beautiful, professional painting.

They are economical and are perfect for students and professional artists. Each pack has two 16x20" pre-stretched canvas stretched over a 5/8" bar.

Who Should Buy It

Though these are large-format canvases, they are very portable and fit into an art portfolio tote. It's also a good gift choice for your artist friends.

9. Art Alternatives Stretched White Canvas

Art Alternatives Stretched White Canvas

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 Pros Cons
  • Medium-weight canvas
  • Primed with acid-free gesso
  • Suitable for almost any painting medium
  • Unbleached canvas
  • Standard size for easier framing
  • Not properly stretched
  • Smooth

What Customers Have to Say

An art teacher of nearly a hundred students recommends this canvas. Other users commented on how perfect this canvas is for acrylic pouring projects.

Art Alternatives Stretched White Canvas

Why We Think Its Great

With this ultra-premium quality prototyped canvas, you'll never have to worry about a painting's texture changing the canvas look and feel. It also comes primed with a gesso layer that will ensure your paints adhere tightly to the surface of the canvas without any sagging from oils or acrylics. 

The stretchers are sized for standard frames, saving you time and money on framing supplies. Plus, it feels good knowing that unlike cheap cotton canvases mass-produced overseas, ours is made from 100% unbleached cotton, so you can paint your heart out without feeling guilty about what goes into producing it.

Who Should Buy It

These canvases are best for students and professionals because they are very affordable. It is very suitable for various mediums, so it works perfectly for artists who work in oils, acrylics, tempera, gouache, and multimedia arts.

10. Academy Art Supply 3x3" Canvas - Best for Thumbnail Paintings

Academy Art Supply 3x3" Canvas

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 Pros Cons
  • Primed with acid-free gesso
  • Kiln-dried, glued stretcher bars
  • Thumbnail-sized canvases
  • 12 canvases per pack
  • Best for all artists
  • Inconsistent quality
  • Thin

What Customers Have to Say

Artists think these canvases are adorable, the smallest canvases out there, but they work well. Many parents and teachers love to give it to younger kids.

Why We Think Its Great

Academy Art Supply wanted to give each artist a chance they deserved to experiment and explore an entirely new painting on their very first try.

With our 12 pack variety of canvases, you'll never be limited in your ideas again. There are so many possibilities with these tiny canvases - use them for quick doodles or detailed drawings, enlarge them for new perspective paintings, use them as drawing practice pieces.

Who Should Buy It

This 3x3-inch canvas is best for thumbnail paintings and practice canvases. This size is also a perfect canvas for younger kids.

11. Masterpiece Artist Heavyweight Canvas

Masterpiece Artist Heavyweight Canvas

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 Pros Cons
  • 100% cotton duck canvas
  • Solid pine or fir stretcher bars
  • 12 oz unprimed, 14.6 oz primed canvas
  • Smooth texture
  • Strong enough for impasto painting
  • No finger joints
  • Pricey

What Customers Have to Say

While many artists think it's a pricey canvas, they also agree that it is of good quality, and the frame is very sturdy, unlike most economy frames. Some artists even used it for commission pieces knowing that they were making the right choice.

Why We Think Its Great

Masterpiece Artist Heavyweight Canvas is an artist-grade canvas, the perfect surface for your next masterpiece. Made of 100% cotton canvas with archival quality, it has a smooth surface ideal for oil or acrylics.

This canvas is strong enough to stand up to even the thickest paint layers with sturdy pinewood or fir stretcher bars. The stretcher bars themselves have pre-installed corner keys and brace keys so you can remove them if necessary, making them perfect for reverse canvas paintings. 

The canvas itself is tighter than most stretched canvas, installed using Masterpiece's proprietary standards known as MuseumWrap to ensure that it stays drum-tight, even after applying paints. However, as the canvas usually sags after a time, you can use a canvas retensioner spray to restore the stretch.

Who Should Buy It

This narrow canvas is best for professional artists, the heaviest in this list. We also suggest this canvas to art students getting ready for their art showing and artists assembling their first exhibit as the archival properties of this canvas make it perfect to last for years.

Types of Canvas

There are four types of canvas you can use for your oil paintings. Choose the one that fits your preference, skills, and budget.

  • Stretched Canvas

A stretched canvas is the most popular choice for artists who want to paint on canvas. The fabric stretched over wooden stretcher bars, giving the canvas more stability while painting. Priming it will improve the quality of the canvas, and you can use it for acrylics and oils.

It comes in different sizes, but larger canvases need more wood to stabilize the frame. However, since it is the most expensive canvas type, we recommend it for professional artists only.

  • Canvas Panels

Canvas panels are an economical alternative to stretched canvas. They have a rigid board backing and a primed cotton canvas, excellent for art students. They also work well for instant showing after you finish your painting.

However, they are not as sturdy as stretched canvases and are, therefore, best for practicing only.

  • Canvas Pads

Canvas pads resemble drawing pads, individually primed and glued together in pad form. You can mount these pads on a wooden panel or even on a wooden frame, but it does not work as well as stretched canvas. They work best for beginners in oil painting and art students.

  • Canvas Rolls

Canvas rolls are best if you want to make your DIY stretched canvas, especially if you wish to have very large canvases that you can't buy from stores. You can choose from cotton duck or linen canvas, and they come in primed and unprimed rolls.

However, since you cannot buy them in smaller cuts, be prepared to shell out a good amount of money to buy them. You can make as large a canvas as you want or make as many smaller canvases as you need.

Tips for Painting with Oils on Canvas

  • Size and prime your canvases properly

Canvas is better at holding oil paints if you the size and prime them before painting. Sizing involves the application of rabbit skin glue or gelatin to reduce the absorbent capacity of the canvas, as much as it does on oil canvas paper. 

To learn more about preparing your rabbit skin glue for sizing, see our article on how to canvas painting for beginners. Apply 2 layers of the rabbit skin glue in opposite directions, sanding between layers to get a smooth texture.

Prime your canvas before painting, but it is best to perfect priming your canvas, so your painting turns outright. You can use different primers - universal gesso and acrylic gesso works well for priming your canvas and adding texture to it. Apply 2 coatings, then apply an additional layer of oil primer to improve the quality of your canvas.

  • Work on smaller canvases

Instead of working on a large canvas, work on smaller canvases instead. A good 3x3-inch mini canvas is the perfect option for thumbnail paintings until you figure out the best technique and style for you. 

However, you can also use oil canvas paper for your practice paintings, but painting on mini canvases allows you to get used to working on canvas to get you ready for your masterpieces.

  • Organize your supplies well

Organize your supplies in a convenient and readily accessible manner. This simple tip will effectively improve your technique and make painting easier for you. Always keep your supplies in a well-ventilated area and keep your brushes well-cleaned before storing them. Store the linseed oil and solvents away from the reach of children and pets.

  • Invest in quality supplies

You cannot expect to create a masterpiece with poor supplies. Start with a good set of oil paintbrushes and oil paints so that you can improve your style and technique.

Canvas for Oil Painting Buying Guide

  • Fabric

There are two kinds of fabric to use for your canvas paintings, though some artists use hemp and jute. However, these two last alternatives are too rough and do not do well for professional work.

  • Cotton canvas

Cotton is an excellent material for stretching because it stretches easily and stays tight on the stretcher bars without drooping or slouching once mounted on the stretcher bar. The cotton duck looks like an ordinary canvas and has a noticeable but tighter weave than ordinary cotton canvas. They are very affordable and come in different weights.

Italian poly-cotton is another option. Polyester keeps the fabric rigid and does not slacken with time. Poly-cotton canvas also has a tighter weave and finer texture than ordinary cotton canvas. Cotton canvas has a matte finish to the painting, but you can improve it by priming the canvas.

  • Linen canvas

Linen is more expensive than cotton, but it is also stronger. Lighter linen works and the heavier cotton canvas, but it is harder to stretch. Artists prefer buying stretched linen canvas than assembling their own. 

Italian linen is coarser and has an irregular weave compared with the French linen canvas. Paintings done in linen have a glossier finish, thus making the oils pop out even more.

  • Texture

The cotton duck canvas has more texture than polyester-cotton blend and linen canvas. The weave is also more noticeable on cotton canvas, making it familiar among artists.

  • Priming

Primed canvas looks different than unprimed canvas. Unprimed cotton has a cream color, while the unprimed linen is darker. Manufacturers don't bleach linen as it affects the quality, but priming gives it a lighter color. You can choose to go for primed or unprimed canvas, but if you're not very good at priming yet, go for the primed canvas to save you of all the hassle.

  • Weight

Do not settle for cotton canvas lighter than 8 ounces. The heavier the canvas, the stronger it is for oil paintings.

Canvas for Oil Painting FAQ

1. Can you paint directly on canvas?

Yes, but we don't recommend it. Canvases are very expensive, and so are oil paints, so you don't want to ruin your paintings by using unprimed canvas.

2. What is the best surface for oil painting?

Even if we recommend oil paper or canvas boards, nothing beats canvases for your oil paintings.

3. Do I need a gesso for oil painting?

It is necessary for artists to prime their canvases with gesso to create a barrier between the oil paint and the canvas. Prime your canvas first in two or more layers, sanding between layers to make sure that you have a smooth texture on your canvas. 

Choose your canvas wisely and check the tips section of this article to understand how preparing a canvas well is essential for your oil paintings.

4. Should you paint a canvas white first?

Do not use white on canvas before you add any paint to it. You should add white only for highlights and lightening the colors, but never before you start painting unless you want to mess with your painting.

Do not mistake the white on the canvas to be oil paint, especially if you're a beginner. Read our article on canvas painting for beginners to know more about this technique.

Conclusion

Here are our top three picks for the best canvas for oil painting:

Phoenix Cotton Stretched Canvas is the best overall canvas for us because it is non-toxic and has AP and CE certifications, so you're confident that you're painting safely. It has 100% premium-quality cotton canvas, triple-primed with acid-free gesso for your paintings to last without discoloration and yellowing.

The Best Multi-Size Pack is the US Art Supply Stretched Canvas. It has 4 sizes in one pack with quality cotton canvas stretched over durable and stable stretcher bars and triple-primed with acid-free gesso.

Lastly, everyone adores thumbnail paintings. We vote for the Academy Art Supply 3x3" Canvas. These premium-quality canvases use kiln-dried stretcher bars and are primed with acid-free gesso, making them perfect for practice and display.

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