Choosing a surface for Acrylic painting

Choosing a surface for acrylic painting
If you enjoy working with acrylics then you have a wide range of surfaces to choose from including canvas, paper, wood, degreased leather, brickwork, or anything which is neither greasy nor too glossy.

Acrylic painters using an oil technique favour canvas, whilst paper is used by those working in a water colour style. Apart from the choice of Winsor & Newton canvases, Galeria Acrylic Pads are also popular for sketching or outdoor work.

Stretched cotton canvas is the surface used most often by professional artists. The weave of the cloth combined with the spring of the stretched material make the cotton canvas a popular choice together with its affordability. Linen canvas, popular with oil painters for its smooth, stiff surface, can also be used for acrylic painting but is not as commonly used for acrylics. Take a look at our Tip & Technique on ‘Understanding the difference between Canvas and Linen’.

When you use acrylics you can paint straight onto the surface, this is because acrylics will not sink like oils into the material. Acrylics will produce strong, bright colours on raw cotton canvas and this means that, if you choose, there is no need to size or prime the canvas before you start working.

Canvas Board
Although canvas boards were first introduced to help artists work outdoors, some artists prefer them to work with anywhere because they take up less room and are less easily damaged than a stretched canvas. Winsor & Newton boards are made with a substantial backing board and high quality cloth, making them superior in quality to coated sketching boards. If you are looking to frame your finished work then a canvas board can be easier to frame than a traditional canvas.

Acrylic painters enjoy using paper because of its texture and drag, and it is also very affordable. Once again, as with a cotton canvas, you can apply acrylics straight onto the surface of the paper – no need to worry about the sinking issues of oils.

Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Colour Paper comes in a variety of sizes, sheets or pads, and is lightly embossed with a canvas texture.
Good quality heavy water colour paper can be used if you prefer a traditional surface. Paper can also be primed, using the brushwork for extra texture.

Medium Density Fibre Board (MDF)
MDF is created from wooden fibres which have been compressed with adhesive under high pressure. It is affordable and readily available in most DIY stores. Remember to prime the MDF before painting.

Primers control the texture, absorbency and colour of your surface and using a good quality primer will make the colours in your work stand out and help your painting last a long time.

There are 4 Winsor & Newton Acrylic primers:

Artists’ Acrylic Clear Gesso
Clear Gesso is a unique product which provides tooth but no colour, so by using acrylic colours you can make your own coloured gesso.

Artists’ Acrylic White Gesso
Artists’ Acrylic White Gesso is made from the highest quality acrylic resin and has the highest covering power making it the best primer if you are only going to apply a single coat.

Galeria White Gesso Primer
Galeria Gesso Primer provides a good quality gesso at an affordable price.

Galeria Black Gesso Primer
This black primer provides a base with maximum contrast. A dark priming brings the elements of the painting together and also saves time when painting.

Unusual surfaces

There may be occasions when you just want to push your own creative boundaries that little bit further and one way of doing that is choosing a completely different type of surface. Let your imagination go and try using acrylic on plaster, brick, terracotta and degreased leather.

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