Canvas fabric can be woven both from natural and synthetic fibers. The natural fibers most commonly used are linen and cotton. There are many techniques applied with working with Canvas. Surface Preparation is important as many types of rolled canvas come unprimed and unstretched. Art Supplies Info provides tips of Stretching Canvas, and different types of surfaces like Watercolor Surface. Linen is by far the superior because of its strength and resistance to decay. Woven from flax, the weave persists throughout many layers of paint in both fine and coarse textures. This is the fiber that Rembrandt’s masterpieces are painted on.
Although inferior to linen, cotton is used more frequently for economic reasons. The cotton family offers many different fabric types. Duck cotton is fairly thick and is good for all-purpose painting. Jute cotton is rough-textured and loosely woven. It is excellent for impasto techniques but is not recommended for permanent pieces of work. Osnaburg cotton is made of single yarns and is generally of a lesser quality than duck. It is good for non-permanent student work. Cotton sheeting is closely woven and smooth, making it good for detail work. Within types of cotton fabrics many different weaves are available such as Alabama, Atlanta and Dallas weaves.