When you’re new to the world of painting, natural instinct kicks in making you purchase cheap supplies. Even once you reach the professional level you you still look for ways to save as much as you can. It’s possible these days to buy cheap canvas at even the pound store. That being said, they can be prepped in a way to make them acceptable for painting so why not opt for them?
Even though cheap canvas are viable for oil painting, it can’t be said they are pleasant to paint on their surfaces. They are super absorbent and a little too textured for many painters’ liking. However, in the end it does come down to personal preference so these sold as is might be the perfect cheap canvas for you.
Instead of having the cheap canvas go to waste, you put in a little elbow grease and have them in perfect shape in no time. Many modern painters like to paint on a smooth surface which is actually a little slippery. Hence, the first objective would be to turn the textured surface into a smooth one. If you add three layers of gesso on your cheap canvas while adding a light sanding in between the layering, you can minimize the texture by a massive amount. For the first layer scrub into the texture allowing for the gaps to be filled in. Continue with the next two layers to bring the surface to a similar level.
The second objective for your cheap canvas would be to make the surface of the canvas become less absorbent and slippery. It should be slippery enough so that when you wipe paint off, you can see the white of the canvas. Since gesso is pretty absorbent you can use an alkyd oil primer over it which is much less absorbent.
When you paint a layer onto your cheap canvas the surface automatically becomes really smooth. When the layer dries, bear in mind some of the texture comes back. In order to fix that just sand it down a little and you should have a non absorbent smooth surface. It is best to use a cheap gesso since it will just be covered with another primer.
And there you have it! You don’t always have to spend a lot on canvas and can just spend to buy a cheap canvas every once in a while if you’re on a tight budget. Just follow the above steps and you shall have the perfect cheap canvas in no time.