Everyone stop what you’re doing….artist brand Strathmore, most popularly known for their wide section of student, artist, and professional grade papers, now makes canvases! When I saw it on my Instagram, feed I actually gasped out loud. Their paper selections are some of my go-to’s, but would they be able to make the leap to canvases with the same success? I was eager to find out.
Thankfully, one of the Strathmore marketing reps knows I’m a bit of a (HUGE) fan. I messaged her to find out if she knew off hand if they were available in Canada (because in my excitement I clearly forgot how Google works).
I was lucky enough to have her offer to send me some of the canvases to try out and I decided to review them. To be clear – the company DID NOT ask me to do the review. Honestly, I was so excited about them that I decided to do it on my own. It’s no secret I am a big fan of this company, so there’s definitely a healthy amount of bias in this, HOWEVER, even my favorites can have room for improvement.
The opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and I have not been paid to give a favourable review. I, like many of you, rely on the reviews and feedback of people I respect and trust and there is no value to me to provide a review that is misleading or coerced. Please do however feel free to try this product for yourself and form your own opinions, as every artist will have slightly different preferences.
- 100% Cotton
- Gallery edge 1.375 solid pine frame
- Medium grain texture
- Triple primed
- Back stapled
- 12 oz 410 g/m2
- Available in a variety of sizes
- For use with acrylic, oil, and water-mixable oils
- Sturdy enough for heavy, mixed media, or impasto applications
Strathmore in my opinion, is one of the best brands for prominently featuring the work of artists who use their products. The Stretched Canvas, Pads, and Panel lines all feature artwork on the label by artist Rachel Christopoulos.
In traditional Strathmore fashion, the label has everything you need to know about the product and is featured in 3 different languages. If you’ve read any of my other product reviews, you know how much I appreciate this detail in the packaging. The graphic designer in me, however, also sympathizes with how difficult multilingual design can be. Thankfully it still looks great and doesn’t feel busy so that’s a win.
The canvases themselves are wrapped in thin plastic and packed with a salt pack and a baggy of canvas wedges. If you don’t know what those little wedges are for, the short version is that they can be inserted into the slots in the corner of the stretched bar at the back to tighten up your canvas if it starts sagging.
I was kindly sent 3 canvases to try. Two were in the traditional profile of 0.75″ and the third in a gallery profile of 1.375″. I was impressed with how well-constructed the canvases felt out of the plastic. The canvas surface feels smooth but securely wrapped and taut.
The pine stretcher bar features the Strathmore logo branded into the wood. I actually really love this detail. To me, it’s a symbol of how confident they are that this is a high-quality product. For many other brands, you would have no idea what canvas the artist used, but in this case, it’s right there for all to see.
Now, on the flip side of this, some artists might hate this feature. They may not feel the same sense of loyalty to the brand or want to be as overt about the brands they are using. After all, when you use paint the brand name isn’t visible once you’ve created art with it. The logo is on the back in a relatively discreet place, but that might not matter to those who don’t prefer it.
The Water-Mixable Oil Painter’s
Advice, Supply Recommendations, and Best Practice Tips for Artists New to Water-Mixable Oil Paints.
As of right now, it appears that these canvases are available in a variety of both smaller retail and chain art stores within the United States. In Canada, not so much. I checked out all of my usual go-to shops and found them at The Paint Spot. They only had the traditional profile in stock however and a limited range of sizes.
I’m hoping to see more Canadian retailers carrying this brand of canvases in the future. I’m hoping that by writing this review it will help motivate more locations to start stocking them. It also always helps to ask your local store as well if they can bring them in.
I chose to use the 10×10 inch gallery profile canvas for this painting. These canvases definitely feel triple-primed. Compared to other brands I have tried in a similar price range there was a noticeable difference in the way that the acrylic paint glided onto the surface. In fact, in some areas like the edges, it almost felt too slick!
I used a lot less paint than I would have on a surface in a competitor brand that I use regularly. The paint dried very uniformly and the beautiful texture of the canvas was still visible but not in a way that felt bothersome.
DETAILS & BLENDING
My next layers were done using water-mixable oil paint. The initial underlayers all held onto the acrylic paint base well and again, the finish felt smooth and refined. I felt like I could have continued to layer ever with heavier applications and this canvas would have handled it all with ease.
The solid pine frame does give these canvases a bit of a heavier weight, but in my opinion that just makes them feel more premium. In this size of canvas, it’s not really an issue but I imagine once you get into the larger sizes it tends to be a bit more noticeable.
According to the Strathmore website, the gallery profile is available in a size up to 36×38 inches, and the traditional 30×40 inches. The smallest size available is a 5×5 inch in both profiles.
ADVANCED BLENDING & DETAILS
My subsequent layers of oil paint all adhered beautifully and the texture of the canvas felt even more luxurious the more layers I added. To be perfectly honest, when I compared this to other paintings I did in the same size and profile but a different brand of canvas, this felt slightly higher-end looking. Much like using a better quality paper can affect the finished result of a drawing, I have found the same to be true for canvas in this case.
Both acrylic and oil paint layered onto this canvas like a dream. I was more impressed with these canvases than I thought I would be. I wasn’t even completed the painting yet and I was already searching online for where I could buy more.
I’m hoping the availability of this product increases where I live because I would love to buy more of the gallery profiles and not have to pay for shipping or in USD. If you’re already a fan of Strathmore’s products you will be pleased to find that the same level of attention to quality has gone into this product as it has with any of their products. Is it possible they have made me EVEN MORE of a fan?
PROS & CONS OVERVIEW OF STRATHMORE STRETCHED CANVASES
As with any product, there is always room for some improvement so let’s look at a quick recap:
– Available in a variety of sizes
– Triple-primed surface
– Solid pine stretcher bar
– Available in two profile depths
– Beautiful finish and texture
– Premium look and feel
– Branded logo on the stretcher bar might be too bold for some
– Triple-primed surface feels too slick in some areas
– Not a lot of wide availability outside of the US as of yet
– Solid pine stretcher bar adds a bit more overall weight to the gallery profiles
For more information on Strathmore Stretched Canvases, you can visit their website at: https://www.strathmoreartist.com/paint-acrylic/id-300-series-stretched-canvas