Canvas: Linen vs. Cotton

With so many things to paint on it’s nice to review some facts about canvas.  In this lesson I’ll be comparing linen canvas to cotton duck and making some suggestions for beginners looking to learn how to paint.


Hello this is John Morfis from; today we’re going to be talking about canvas, that stuff that artists love to paint on.  There’s two basic varieties of canvas; we’ve got linen which comes from the flax plant and then we’ve got cotton duck which comes from the cotton plant…not ducks!

Both cotton and linen have a variety of textures. You can purchase thicker canvas that have a little more of a pronounced texture. It’s good for larger paintings and maybe you want to have some of that texture show up in your painting.  If so, the course texture is more suitable for that.

You can also buy portrait grade canvas which has a little bit of a thinner weave and the texture is less pronounced; great for, obviously portraits, and higher detailed work and smaller paintings.

Where cotton duck differs greatly from linen is in its elasticity.  Cotton duck is very stretchy compared to the linen.  The also differ on price.  Linen tends to be way more expensive.

To conclude, if you are just starting out I highly recommend sticking to cotton duck; it’s far cheaper and its elasticity is easier to work with.

That just about wraps up today’s discussion.  Please leave a comment and let us know what your experience has been with stretching canvas.  I’m John Morfis from – thanks for watching.

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