As an artist I get many questions. One is what paper or canvas is best to use. The answer isn’t always straightforward. In this article I will walk you through a few different but easily accessible choices based on the look your are going for.
For practice drawing and sketching you want to have a smooth paper. A hot pressed paper that isn’t too thick. Anything up to 120gsm is pretty good. The thickness of the paper will still give you a quality feel to your sketch and the hot press will give you a smooth finish. The smoother the paper, the cleaner your lines will be which will give you a more realistic look.
My current art journal is less than 100gsm and is not suitable for anything other than sketching. Below is a picture of an Orca I sketched sometime ago. If you try to use other medias (paint or watercolour) on this type of paper it will wrinkle and curl. It damages the paper and if you do that, there’s no saving it.
Mixed Media Paper 250 gsm +
The below sketch is a graphite on 250gsm mixed media paper. This paper is meant to handle Acrylic paint well, water colour however, is a bit of a stretch. I love it to print my art work on to this paper because it has a bit of texture just like a canvas and it gives the print a really good quality look and feel.
Cold Pressed Cotton Paper
A cold press paper is rough, it has what is called ‘tooth’. It is ideal if you like that bumpy, textured feel and look to your painting. I personally don’t like to draw on this type of paper. I love to paint on it! I use a 300gsm cold press cotton paper with my acrylics. You get a matte finish with the textured finish of a canvas. The cotton paper is actually made for water colour paint because it can handle the wet application without creasing and folding. I use watercolours and acrylic and it performs beautifully.
There are several types of canvas you can purchase. The main types are stretched canvas, canvas board and canvas sheets. I prefer to use a stretched canvas. I like the bounce back it gives. All types of canvas have a tooth (bumpy texture) that I love! With the stretched canvas’s you don’t have to frame and can hang as is.
TOP TIP – be sure to paint the sides of your stretched canvas. It will look more professional once on the wall.
Above is an acrylic Painting is on a stretched canvas of Saundersfoot Beach. This is my favourite material to paint on.
As you can see from the below picture canvas board performs much like a stretched canvas. It has a tooth, although not as deep or prominent. It is an easy and cheaper way to start painting. They come in all sorts of sizes and packs. You can frame them easily too.
I hope you liked my tips for how to choose the right paper or canvas, be sure to check out my article on How to improve your Sketches.