The typical artist faces many dilemmas.  Finding the right painting surface for the right price is one of them.  There are all kinds of canvases, stretcher bars, wood panels, metals and even found objects that one can convert into a painting surface.  Of course there is paper too, but we will save that for another post. 


Canvases
Lets start of with where to find the most pocket friendly canvas.  Believe it or not often times there are canvases just waiting to be had at thrift stores. If you don’t mind painting over someone’s work you can score really cheap canvases at places like Goodwill or the Salvation Army.  I saw one just last week for two dollar at the army, granted it was not gallery wrapped, but hey it was cheap.  These canvases can work for any sort of art endeavor.  They also have frames too that can be painting and used with works.

Some other places where I have found cheap canvases are Hobby Lobby and Dick Blick. Hobby Lobby runs a sale every other weekend where you can find a 40% off any one item coupon online. Like I said the coupon rotates every week, but two times a month it is the 40% off one item coupon.  You can go in and get your canvas this way, or if you need two — print out two coupons and take a friend with you.  Dick Blick has a good array of canvases at lots of price ranges.  If you are more prolific you can buy in bulk and get a discount.  They have special offers on their home page as well, where you can receive free shipping on certain size orders as well as percentages off your order.  They have side stapled canvases all the way up to special grade museum and linen canvases.  A good canvas for a great price is their Studio Gallery Canvas.  This canvas comes in at 1 and 3/8 inch, just under the 1.5 mark but is a good bit less than the one and a half inch.  It is gallery wrapped and has a good wall profile.

Another site where I have ordered canvas from is  BODY,.aolmailheader {font-size:10pt; color:black; font-family:Arial;} a.aolmailheader:link {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:visited {color:magenta; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:active {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} a.aolmailheader:hover {color:blue; text-decoration:underline; font-weight:normal;} http://www.artistbrandcanvas.com/. My friend Jacqueline C. told me about this site.  The canvases are reasonably priced, but shipping can vary. The absolute best part about these are that they are made 100% in the USA.

Wood Panels
Wood panels are just cool. They are modern and can be used for a variety of art techniques, such as encaustic and resin. They are heavy duty and stand up a bevy of artistic abuses. Two places that I have seen that offer panels are Paint on This and The Bonny Studio. Both sites offer custom sizing.  The Bonny Studio panels appear to come pre gessoed.

Stretcher Bars
Stretcher bars are really the most economical canvases.  If you know how to stretch your own canvas you can spend far less money than if you were to purchase one. This is especially true if you need a large canvas.  Dick Blick, Michaels, UtrechtHobby Lobby and most craft stores have ready made strips available.  You can purchase canvases at any of these stores as well as at any awning store.  Make your own stretcher from scratch using 1/4 inch redwood from a lumber store, but the pre done strips are nice if you don’t have a saw.

Metal Painting Surfaces
Metal provides an interesting plane to paint on. Inner Metal Works is a company the specializes in metal paint canvases.  They have a variety of styles to choose from. Another option is to go to your local metal fabricator and have them make something up for you.  This requires more time and effort, but may be more cost effective.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about paint surfaces, and if you have any to add to the list please be sure to leave a comment.

Sonia Semone

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