There are several works of art wherein the human spirit can express itself. These art works include dancing, singing, and of course painting/drawing. The latter one, being the focus of this article, is among the arts that need not physical expression. Unlike the dancers and the singers who express their emotion through physical movements, painters express the emotions they have through the canvases and pigments.
One of the most celebrated kinds of painting is oil paintings. Oil paintings, especially on canvas has existed in the history of art as early as 1125. However, oil-based paints in this period were used for sculptures, carvings, and wood fittings. In the 15th century, European painters were credited for painting with oil-based on wood panels. However, around the end of the 15th century, canvas oil paintings became popular. Many painters preferred to have canvas instead of wooden panels to be used in their oil paintings because canvas oil paintings are cheaper, portable and allow large art works. Led by Venice, the trade and marketing of canvas started. Because of the availability of canvas, oil painting on the canvas spread through other European countries. The oldest surviving oil painting done in canvas is the French painting Madonna with Angels accomplished in 1410.
The traditional canvas cloth that the early painters used for canvas oil paintings is made of robust brownish linen. To use this canvas cloth, one needs to stretch it into a wooden frame called the stretcher and should be coated with a gesso. Gesso is a white paint mixture comprising of a binder combined with chalk, gypsum or pigment. Gesso is important to the canvas since it blocks the paint from having direct contact into the canvas fibres, which may lead to decay.
Nowadays, instead of using linen, people use cotton ducks. The difference between linen and a cotton canvas is the quality of the cloth used. Linen is stiff and difficult to stretch but proven to give smooth and firm surface. This kind of canvas is proven for the longevity of the art work. Added to that, linen canvas is used by painters of canvas oil paintings such as Leonardo da Vinci. Cotton duck on the other hand, is less expensive than the linen. Unlike linen, it can be stretch fully. However, because of its easily-stretch feature, it is not so good for large canvas oil paintings which really need details. The linen canvas is preferred by the professional artists while cotton duck canvas is usually used by students and non-professionals. It is also important to note that these two different canvas cloths are from different plants: linen came from flax plant while the cotton duck came from the cotton plant.
There are many different types of canvas oil paintings. Some of these include abstract oil painting, landscape oil painting and portrait oil painting. Using the right canvas cloth, a painter can achieve the oil painting that can last like the works of Da Vinci and Van Gogh.