Canvases provide a great alternative to mounted and framed pictures. They have become increasingly popular over recent years; I believe this is due to their contemporary style and the fact that they are a cheaper alternative to framed art work.


You can buy canvas-covered frames of different depths. The first type are boards and as the name suggests, these are thin pieces of rigid cardboard covered in material. These are frequently used by oil and acrylic artists. They provide an excellent surface to work on. These seem to be most suitable when you want the fabric texture combined with a frame.

The next type of design you can get, is with a depth of approximately 1.5 cm. I have seen these used most frequently by acrylic artists. Personally I feel these work best when framed.

The 'deep box' style are very popular and provide a great surface for contemporary art work. These have a depth of between 4 and 5 cm. I do not think they need to be framed; however careful consideration needs to be given to the edges. There is no right or wrong answer to this. Some artists paint the edges white or a plain colour that matches in with the painting. Other artists, including myself, think it is interesting and attractive to continue the painting around the edges. This gives the whole piece of artwork a three dimensional quality. As you walk into a room, you initially get a glimpse of the edge of the painting and that may well entice you to look at the complete picture.

Suppliers of canvases

Similar to many art materials, the more you pay, the better quality your materials. I have found that Windsor & Newton deep box ones provide good quality for a reasonable price. A small rule of thumb that I follow is to consider the weight of a box canvas. If you pick up an average sized one(let’s say 50 x 50 cm) and it is incredibly light weight, it suggests to me that the wood used for the frame is unlikely to be of good quality. Bear in mind that the material is under tension and the frame provides the necessary strength for this. Additionally as paint is applied the hessian will expand and contract. The last thing you want is when you have finished a lovely painting is to find the frame has warped.

When purchasing, be careful to check that the product is:

  • not torn
  • not dented
  • not discoloured
  • neatly finished off at the corners
  • is without serious flaws or splintering on the wooden frame

I regularly make off-the-shelf purchases from ‘The Range’ and use online companies for more particular requirements. For made to measure canvases, I'd recommend The Canvas Store

Deep box ones come in a whole range of sizes – the most popular ones being available most easily. Many companies will make these to the size you require. Recently I purchased one - as I had been asked to do a painting 1.5 m x 60 cm.

I use this style to do acrylic paintings and also mixed media artwork. To discover more, follow the links to:

Acrylic Landscape Painting

Mixed Media Landscape Painting