I kept some of my favorite paintings from the beginning of my painting journey. The supports use are watercolor paper, canvas, stretched canvas, Bristol board, Yupo and canvas panels. Some with black gesso as the ground.
For acrylics, I tended to gesso the watercolor paper with black, because it looked good, and made the paper even sturdier. The watercolor paper that were not gessoed, the colors are vibrant because of the light being able to shine through. The ones that were gessoed look great and are very strong and stiff… highly durable and are in great condition.
I like hot press over cold press or rough watercolor paper. Each one gives a different affect with painting. Hot press enables you to create smooth lines, which looks great for cartooning, or portrait painting. Cold press is the middle standard watercolor paper. It works in all kinds of situations, and is great if you like multiple effects like the use of granulating pigments. Rough press is just that, rough. It is perfect for abstract and extreme painting effects.
The inexpensive cotton canvas are in horrible condition, and were tossed out. Even with gesso the canvas surface were cracking and not even a year old. Do not buy cheap no-name canvas!
Normal canvases are in great condition, even after 20 years. I use brand name canvases like Fredrix, Monet, and Vincent.
All canvas panels are prone to warping from the changes of humidity, heat, and cold. To limit this situation, paint an X with gesso on the back of the panel. It helps most of the time. Still, I wouldn’t use canvas panels for your masterpieces.
Bristol board is good for non-archival works. Even very good Bristol board will start to discolor and decay over the course of less than a decade. Acrylic paint looks good on it, but it leaves the paint more shiny than on watercolor paper. Plus it is harder to maneuver the paint on Bristol board.
Yupo, is actually easier to paint on for both acrylics and watercolors. If you get the right amount of paint, you can over throw the smooth palette-like consistency of the paper. The product is still relatively new, so the durability and deterioration are still up for debate. After a decade, however, it still seems to be in perfect condition.
My favorite support for watercolors and acrylics out is definitely watercolor paper. Watercolor paper at 140lbs. is resilient, and easy to store, manage and frame. It is great also to have 8 to 10 well-made paintings to put in a portable portfolio for show and sell.
Stretched canvas is my first choice for oil paintings, although acrylics also work perfectly, as well. Yes, ready-made canvas is more expensive than home-made stretched canvas, however, I still recommend paying the extra dollar and having a canvas stretched by the professionals. The canvas just looks better than artist made (unless of course you, are talented in this area, as well as have the room to do this). The reason I like ready made canvas is it looks professional and they are ready to hang as soon as you completed the painting. No framing, no fuss, no muss, just hang and you’re done!
Canvas pads are a sheet of canvas. These are fantastic for studies. Once dried, they can be placed in a frame, or in a portfolio.