Smoothing a linen canvas

Posted on Aug 10, 2017

Among my paintings that proved very popular in Germany (and thus were sold) are two compositions of citrus fruits against a very dark background and a faux reflective surface. These were painted on artist board, and because wooden board has a much smoother surface than textured linen, this is one reason why the glossy finish of the varnish is so effective on the dark background, and why the fruit almost pops out of the painting.

I wanted to try achieving a comparable smoothness and gloss on linen canvas, and to this end I applied a coat of oil based floor paint from Farrow & Ball (due to EU regulations oil based paint cannot be bought anymore but I still had an unopened tin) on top of the several thin layers of gesso which I apply to all my canvasses. This undercoat indeed produced a smoother finish, and I am now working on two more or less similar compositions of citrus fruits on dark bakground, although this time the size is larger, and there are, of course, many changes in the details compared to those earlier paintings.

So far everything seems to work out fine, and I’ll post a picture on this site when the varnish has been applied. In the meantime, here’s a small peek.

Smoothing a linen canvas

Smoothing a linen canvas. Look closely and you’ll see the vertical ‘stripes’ caused by the texture of the linen, but notice also how they are much more rounded off as a result of the coating of oil paint underneath.

There is, by the way, an interesting article on artist’s canvas, and the difference between cotton canvas and the higher quality and long enduring linen canvas, on the website of Winsor & Newton at