Can You Paint On Linen Canvas?

Paintings have been around for quite a long time now. Initially, people used to make paintings on various surfaces such as walls, rocks etc. Later on, after the invention of canvas and frame, artists started using canvas as their painting medium. This is because it was more portable and easy to carry from one place to another.

So, back to the question, can you can paint on linen canvas? Yes, absolutely! In fact, linen canvas is known to be stronger and longer lasting than cotton canvas.

See also: 5 Key Differences Between A Linen & Cotton Canvas

What is Linen Canvas?

Linen canvas is a type of stiff, heavy-duty woven fabric for painting. Linen is the traditional material used for artists’ canvas because it is strong and has a high thread count, making it less likely to sag.

The surface of linen canvas can be treated with various preparations that make it more absorbent or adhesive. This allows the artist to apply paints in a variety of ways and achieve different textures. Linen canvases are also sometimes primed with acrylic gesso or rabbit skin glue.

Linen canvas is made from flax fibre, which comes from the stem of the flax plant. Once harvested, the fibres are spun into linen threads that can be woven into fabrics. Linen is a very strong material and will last for hundreds of years without deteriorating in quality if adequately cared for.

Some artists prefer to use linen canvases because the fabric produces a more authentic painting surface than cotton or synthetic materials. Others find that the natural texture of linen gives their paintings a unique look and feel.

Linen canvases come in various sizes and can be purchased from art supply stores or online retailers. Prices vary depending on the size and quality of the canvas.

Qualities of Linen Canvas

Linen canvas is a classic painting surface for earnest artists. The canvas is made from a woven fibre of the flax plant, cultivated mainly in Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. It has a variety of characteristics that make it an excellent painting surface:

  • Durable with strong fibres and good tensile strength

Linen canvas is stiff enough to support the paint layer yet flexible enough to be easily stretched over stretcher bars and other supports. The fibres are strong and resist tearing, making the canvas durable.

  • Even texturing for good paint holdout

The surface of linen canvas has a good amount of texture, which helps to hold the paint layer in place. This is beneficial because it prevents the paint from seeping through to the other side of the canvas and ruining the painting.

  • Has good archival qualities in terms of age and colorfastness

Linen canvas is made from natural fibres and has very good lightfast properties, making it an excellent choice for the long-term preservation of your artwork. Linen can be white or brown; both are suitable for painting and display purposes. White linen canvas is typically more expensive because it requires additional processing to remove the natural brown colour of the flax fibres.

  •  Absorbs and releases moisture, which helps with paint application and drying time

The loose weave of linen canvas allows for easy paint application. It also helps keep the surface from becoming too dry or overly saturated with water during preparation and painting. The surface of linen canvas is acid-free, which helps prevent the paint from yellowing or becoming brittle over time.

What Kind Of Paint Do You Use On Linen Canvas?

Various paints can be used on linen canvas, but some paints are better suited for this type of canvas than others. Acrylic and oil paints are definitely the best paints to use on linen canvas.

  •  Acrylic paint

Linen canvas is an ideal surface for acrylic paints because it’s durable and doesn’t permanently warp when wet as much as other canvases. Acrylic paint is a popular choice to use on linen canvas because it dries quickly, doesn’t run easily, and is versatile in its application.

  • Oil paint

Another popular paint to use on linen canvas is oil paint. Oil paints offer a wide range of colours and can be blended to create unique effects. Linen canvas has durability and strength that can withstand the weight of oil paints and solvents without buckling.


  • What is the distinction between primed and unprimed canvas?

Primed canvas has been prepared with gesso before an artist begins to paint. Some artists prefer to work on primed canvases because the surface is smoother and provides a better foundation for their paint.

On the other hand, an unprimed canvas does not have any primer or ground applied to it. Priming a canvas is an essential step in the painting process, as it helps the paint adhere to the surface more effectively and makes certain colours such as white pop out when applied over the top of the gesso.

  •  What is a raw linen canvas?

Raw linen canvases are unprimed and are made of 100% linen fabric. They come with a very minimalistic look, maintaining pure linen’s natural colour and feel.

  • Can you paint on raw linen canvas?

You can paint on a raw linen canvas, but it will not be easy to handle. They are stiff and impractical, requiring you to take extra steps before working with the fabric. Raw linen canvases need to be primed before painting because of their absorbency and lack of tooth (surface texture).

That’s why most artists use either prepared linen canvases or primed ones.

  • What is the benefit of painting with linen canvas?

The benefits of painting on linen include:

More durability – Of all the canvas types available, linen is by far one of the most durable ones you can find. This is because it is a natural fibre and does not easily tear.

Texture – Linen has a unique texture that gives paintings a more rustic look. This may be something you are looking for or something you want to avoid.

A natural look – When compared to a cotton canvas, linen will have more of a rustic appearance. This is something that some artists prefer, and others do not.

 Less stretching – Unlike cotton canvases, linen ones do not require as much stretching before you start painting on them. This can be a plus or minus, depending on your preferences.

  •  What is the difference between cotton and linen canvas?

Canvas can be made from various materials, but the two most popular types are cotton and linen.

Cotton canvas is cheaper and more common than linen canvas. It’s also less durable, so it’s not as good for outdoor use. Linen canvas is more expensive, but it lasts longer and is more durable.

Cotton canvas has a softer texture than linen, making it easier to paint on. Linen canvas has a rougher texture and may require gesso before painting.

 Overall, cotton canvas is a good choice for beginners or projects that don’t require a lot of durability. Linen canvas is a better choice for more advanced artists or for projects that will be used outdoors.