Cotton Duck Canvas is the most common canvas choice for artists to paint on. Made from the cotton plant, the material is 100% natural that once stretched, forms a ground support which has good adhesion to priming layers

Cotton Duck Custom made artists canvases
Cotton Duck canvases’ relative cost effectiveness, medium-toothed texture and natural feel give the cloth appeal for a variety of artistic techniques. The warp and woof fibres need to be tightly laced at right angles however, to hinder primer undercoats from seeping through to the back-end of the cloth. Although differently weighted Cotton Duck is used in a wide variety of different applications, only the heavier cloth is suitable for painting purposes; 12oz cloth is sufficiently heavy and with a thickness of approximately 0.68mm, gives the material durability and strength for palette knife or bold impasto work. In its natural state, the cloth has an off-cream colour in appearance, and at Winsen’s Canvases is available in 2.5 meter wide rolls. A stretched canvas can therefore be as large as 2.2 meters by 5 meters+. The cloth is washed and scoured, removing any latent residue as a consequence of the milling process.

The primer used on Cotton Duck Canvas is essential to obtain a support that is flexible, protecting the underlying canvas from deterioration and allowing the correct absorption of oil and acrylic paints, while enhancing the unique inherent characteristics of the natural fiber – by default, we double-prime the cloth with an Acrylic Gesso, or more accurately Acrylic Dispersion Ground. This non-cracking soft acrylic polymer based primer uses a combination of high quality, 100% pure acrylic resins with plasticisers, achieving required flexibility while maintaining good levels of pigment strength. Extenders within the primer are Calcium Carbonate and Titanium dioxide (whitener), realising a PH balance of 8.7. The final finish is matt white, with slight tooth for film adhesion.

The application of a ground, or size layer, is an option for artist’s working in oil paints. This pure acrylic emulsion is hydrophobic in nature, reducing liquid permeability while maintaining crack, chalk and alkali resistance. Having excellent dry and wet adhesion, this coating provides an additional barrier between the oils in the paints, and raw canvas surface. Given its clarity and transparency, this size coating can also be applied when the artist wishes the cloth colour to show, without working on white primer layers.

Because acrylic based primers do not contain the acids which tend to deteriorate cotton and linen fibres, the use of size is unnecessary for artists working in acrylic paints. Extra coatings can be applied to render a smoother finish and more lustrous appearance. It is well known that Acrylic Gesso is more versatile than an oil-based primers; due to its chemical characteristics, acrylic and oil paints can be painted over Acrylic Gesso but acrylics cannot be painted over oil grounds.

Being a natural fibre, the cloth is hygroscopic in nature and can slacken depending on environmental conditions; when dampened, the individual threads becoming thicker and shorter causing the openings to close and hence an overall tightening on the cloth. During dry conditions, the reverse process causes the cloth to slacken or ‘relax’; an expandable stretcher frame is therefore needed with keyed wedges in the corner and cross-bar struts. These can be gently tapped in, effectively bringing the cloth back to a taut state.

In summary, Cotton Duck’s versatility has found favor for many different styles of artistic impression. Its toothed surface finish grips brush paint easily, giving long-lasting adhesion to priming and subsequent oil or acrylic paints.