Why do we choose linen to make canvas

Published: Thursday 15 March, 2018

Linen is an oil crop, and linseed oil contains a lot of unsaturated fatty acids, so it is used to prevent hyperlipidemia and atherosclerosis. Linen is also a kind of pure natural fiber, which has been paid more and more attention because of its remarkable properties of sweat absorption, air permeability and innocuity. Because of its soft texture, good fineness, quick water absorption, and low electrical conductivity, it can be made into high-grade clothing. Also, it is widely used by oil painters to make the canvas.


Since 16th Century, oil painting started to be produced on canvas. The primal choice of many artists is the pure linen as the canvas. The reasons for that are as follows:


1. Linen is of high durability and fiber strength, so it won’t easily be torn or broke. And this feature enables the color knife to scrape and press on it.


2. Slender fineness makes it have tinctorial property, which is really important for painting.


3. Because linen is soft with vivid uneven texture, artists can take advantage of the delicate and interesting texture of linen to make their paintings more expressive.


4. Linen and flaxseed oil are derived from the same plant and have the same chemical properties, therefore they are in harmony.


The linen fabric is divided into two types: single-woven type and double-woven type. It is easy to handle a variety of specifications of different thickness and textures. Coarse linen is suitable for painting with palette knife boldly and resolutely. The medium density line fabric is smooth and the texture is uniform. It is most suitable for the expressive method of rubbing the mask in the realistic style. Fine texture linen is a small piece of work fits fine painting style. For preservation, the cloth painting is superior to the other supports of the oil painting, of which linen is the best.


Linen is usually grown in cold and humid climate, and Belgium and Ireland are the main origins of linen. The mature linens are reaped from root to leaf, left putrid to attain solid fiber, then spun into cloth. Because of the different texture and thickness, the linen sells from about one meter to three meters wide, and the width of the special products is more than four meters.


Pure linen has a high value, so there are cheap blended varieties in the market to replace it. While the shape of cotton and linen can shrink according to humidity, therefore, is not a good choice for making a large canvas.


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