Belgian Linen Canvas, grown from the flax produced in Belgian and the Netherlands, is still considered to be the superior choice for Professional Artists who want to work on a specific textured cloth.
Belgian Linen canvas is distinguished by its unique natural colour and irregular character of weave, which is the result of the round shape of the linen fibres – this texture permeates through the layers of paint, imparting a sense of depth to the work. Individual linen fibres are considerably longer and springier than cotton’s; the material is therefore somewhat more durable and has a livelier feel when stretched.
Machine coated a number of times with either oil or universal primer, or glue sizing, very specific methodologies are employed to obtain a uniform surface. For an oil canvas, zinc white is used as the primer, bound with linseed oil. After drying a coating of titanium white is given. With acrylic or universal linen, two coats of titanium white are applied with an acrylic binder.
All varieties of Belgian linen canvas, varying in weave texture, priming type and cloth weight, are imported by Winsen’s Canvases as pre-primed, 2.1 meter wide rolls. The cloth is also available unprimed or, what is becoming increasingly popular, glue sized, allowing the unique canvas colour to come through the artwork. Although not an exact science, heavier graded linens are seen as more suitable for larger panels, while a lighter grade is sufficient for smaller paintings.
As with Cotton Duck, being a natural fibre, the linen fibres can respond to changes in humidity, swelling in humid weather and shrinking in dry weather. The stretcher frame therefore needs be keyed with suitable wedges in the expansion corners and cross-bar struts.
Given their reputation and popularity among Professional Artists, Belgian Linens are highly-valued. Working with Linen brings the pleasure of painting on a cloth that can be specifically suited to the artist’s style and preference and carries the nostalgia of using a material trusted by the Old Masters.
Belgian Linens include:
- B12 – oil primed. Fine to medium texture. Most commonly used.
- A66 – acrylic primed. Medium texture.
- N107 – oil primed. Fine texture.
- H4 – oil primed jute. Very rough texture.
- 13DPSu – unprimed linen. Very fine weave.
- 013G – clear glue primed. Fine to medium texture.
- 13DPS – oil primed. Extremely fine texture.
- The Artist’s Handbook of Materials and Techniques. Fifth edition. Ralph Meyer
- The Artist’s Pocket Guidebook. Jim Cobb and Kirk Miller
- The Painters Handbook. Mark David Gottsegen.
- The Materials of the Artist and their use in Painting. Max Doern