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The Best Mini Canvas

Last updated on March 15, 2024

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Our Picks For The Top Mini Canvases

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Product Overview
Key Takeaway
 Top Pick

Artlicious Classroom Ready-To-Use Mini Canvas, 12-Pack

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Classroom Ready-To-Use Mini Canvas, 12-Pack

The cotton duck canvas is a highlight of these panels from Artlicious. The surface is acid-free and will hold acrylics, oils or tempura equally well. This budget model also holds up well to the demands of high-volume painters.

Overall Take

Solid Budget BuyThese mini canvas panels are acid-free canvases that are great for art classes or frequent practice.

 Runner Up

FIXSMITH Oil & Acrylic Non-Toxic Mini Canvas, 24-Pack


Oil & Acrylic Non-Toxic Mini Canvas, 24-Pack

Large families and art teachers will want to consider this mini canvas set, which includes 24 pieces. The boards are acid-free, triple-primed and non-toxic, making them safe for use with kids. A total of seven different sizes are available ranging from 5 by 7 inches to 11 by 14 inches.

Overall Take

Professional-Quality PickOnly 100% pure cotton was used to construct these mini canvases.

 We Also Like

AUREUO Cotton Triple Primed Mini Canvas, 24-Pack


Cotton Triple Primed Mini Canvas, 24-Pack

These mini canvases are constructed from a high-grade long-staple cotton. That means the fibers are strong and flexible. Artists will love the white surface, which is a result of the canvases being triple-primed with acid-free gesso.

Overall Take

Bright White SurfaceYou'll receive 24 mini canvases when you opt for this affordable set.

 Strong Contender

LWR CRAFTS Cotton Acid-Free Mini Canvas, 12-Pack


Cotton Acid-Free Mini Canvas, 12-Pack

These high-quality mini canvases are made from 100% cotton. They can be used to create oil and acrylic masterpieces, and since you get 12 items per set, they work well for both professional and classroom settings. Each piece is individually wrapped, so you can count on them arriving unharmed.

Overall Take

Six Different SizesYou'll find these mini canvases come in six different sizes ranging from 2 x 2 x 12 inches to 4 x 4 x 6 inches.

Buying Guide

Ask any artist: It can be intimidating, staring down a big, blank canvas. And while wall-size paintings might be what you think of when you picture a professional, working artist, there’s no rule that says a canvas has to adhere to a particular size.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Enter the mini canvas. You’ll find them sold in bulk at most any art supply store, and artists of any level of experience should have a few. Beginners can use them to sharpen their skills and boost their confidence by creating smaller works of art in less time. Established artists might use them to do quick studies, create a series of grouped pieces or distribute them in class for bite-sized lessons.

There’s no set size that’s standard, but the usual rule of thumb is that anything under 4″ x 6″ is a mini canvas. The shape is usually square, or slightly rectangular. The construction of a mini canvas is usually the same as its full-size counterpart: a sheet of specially-woven fabric, stretched tightly over a wooden frame.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Depending on what paints you work with, the material on the business side of the canvas will matter. But for beginners cracking open their first set of acrylics, our resident art expert Amy Markham says you can tell a lot about quality with a quick look at the back.

“No matter the size of the canvas you are buying, if it is stretched you want to make sure it has a sturdy frame,” says Markham, who also teaches middle school art and hosts a creativity podcast. “Also check to see if the canvas is stretched tightly and secured well on the back. Most mini canvases are secured with staples on the back of the frame, so you want to check to see that the material is well secured and that there are no loose areas.”

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Now about the actual canvas itself. These days, canvas is typically woven in single-ply from cotton or linen. Of the two, linen is the higher quality, and you’ll see that reflected in the price. Prior to the 20th century, canvas was made exclusively with linen, which was prized for its ability to hold oil paints. It’s still best for oil today.

Most mini canvases, though, will be made of cotton. That material works just fine for acrylics and properly primed oils and typically stretches better across the frame. Most cotton is plain woven, but you’ll also find the more deluxe duck canvas. No, it’s not made of duck. The word derives from the Dutch doek, meaning “cloth.” Duck canvas boasts a tighter weave, making it sturdier and more able to hold its shape.

Kristin Forte/Simplemost Media

Finally, most mini canvases are primed. (In fact, you might have to search harder to find one that’s untreated.) That means they are coated with a layer of that painter’s pal known as gesso. Ingredients vary, but gesso is essentially made from white pigment mixed with some sort of glue or binder. When it coats the canvas, it allows paints to bind more easily, and it’s particularly essential if you’re painting with oils. It also smooths out the surface, masking the texture of the cloth and making it a perfect support for fine lines and brushwork.

Our Expert Consultant

Amy Markham  
Artist and art educator

Artist and educator Amy Markham is the creator of Starling, a podcast dedicated to helping artists develop depth in their creative practice. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, Amy has been an art educator since 2001. Today, she teaches middle school art at a school outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Her personal artwork explores myth-making and symbolic understandings. Through her brand, Starling Creative Living, she leads others to explore art production as a method for enriching their life experience.

What to Look For

  • If you’re buying a mini canvas, you usually have a good idea of how you want to display them. But it’s good to give thought to how you’re actually going to paint on them, too. Many mini canvases come with tiny easels that are a perfect fit, allowing you to easily prop up and work on them. And hey, if you’re giving your miniature masterpiece as a gift, they make for a quaint display option as well.
  • Whatever the size of your canvas, you’ll want to pay some attention not just to the length and width of the wooden frame, but the depth. There are two standard thicknesses when it comes to canvas: deep or traditional. Traditional canvas stretchers are about 3/4 inch thick on the sides, which is just about enough for hanging by a nail, or (more ideally) for framing. If you plan on leaving the canvas unframed, consider a deep style. Deep canvas will stand out more boldly on a wall, and you can even paint the sides, incorporating them into the art and adding a 3-D feel.
  • When you’re working on wall art, a mini canvas can be great for playing around with themes. The small size makes them perfect for displaying in groups, arranged in some sort of geometric order. Think patterns for abstracts, alternating colors, comic book panels — anything complimentary that draws the eye into a visual story.
  • To prime or not to prime? If you’re just starting out, bulk packages of mini canvases will make the decision an easy one. Most of them will be primed with a layer of gesso, making them equally receptive to acrylics or oil paints. They also make for a smooth, even painting surface. And while that’s ideal for most, some artists might want a little texture on their art. Just keep in mind that while acrylics will still adhere just fine to untreated canvas, the color might be a bit duller. Oil, however, will need either that gesso layer or a good linen canvas.

More to Explore

Canvas may be made from cotton or linen, but that wasn’t always the case. As early as 3,000 B.C., early Chinese people were making a variety of fabrics out of one of the first plants to yield fiber: hemp. Those fabrics eventually included canvas. In fact, the word “canvas” is a derivation of the Latin word “cannabis.” And while the hemp or cannabis plant turned out not to be the ideal foundation for painting, it seems to have found its niche in other areas.

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