Bigger Isn't Always Better: How to Pick the Perfect Art Canvas

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Too big! Too small! Just right!? Picking the right art-canvas size can be tricky — and highly subjective.

Here's a rundown of the most common art-canvas sizes. Whether you're a miniaturist, someone who likes to go wild, Jackson Pollock-style, or anywhere in between, you will find plenty of choices. Experiment with a few to find the one that feels best.

Note: The size categories below are objective. What seems small to one painter might seem immense to another.

Rectangle Canvases

Rectangle canvases are by far the most popular. They come in infinite size variations; here are some of the most common.

Small

Small canvases are great for working on finely detailed pieces or a single, bold image. They can be a good size for creating artwork to scan and turn into postcards, greeting cards or other stationery designs.

Common sizes:

  • 4-by-6 inches
  • 5-by-7 inches

Medium

This size is Ideal for the beginning painter. They're big enough to experiment with brushes and techniques but not intimidatingly large.

Common sizes:

  • 8-by-10 inches
  • 9-by-12 inches
  • 11-by-14 inches
  • 12-by-16 inches

Large

Large canvases are exactly what you need to create paintings that make an impact in a room. They are easiest to work with on an easel.

Common sizes:

  • 18-by-24 inches
  • 20-by-24 inches
  • 24-by-36 inches
  • 30-by-40 inches
  • 36-by-48 inches

Mini Canvases

Anything under 4-by-6 inches is considered a mini canvas. You might find square variations such as 2-by-2 or 3-by-3 inches or an "ACEO" size (Art Cards Editions and Originals) that is a little bigger than a business card. Mini canvases look great when displayed in side-by-side groupings.

Square Canvases

Square canvases are also fantastic for displaying in side-by-side groupings. Andy Warhol allegedly made his series of square paintings all in the same size so they would look great together on museum walls one day.

Common sizes:

  • Mini sizes (under 4-by-6 inches)
  • 8-by-8 inches
  • 10-by-10 inches
  • 12-by-12 inches
  • 20-by-20 inches

Shaped Canvases

Circles and ovals are arguably the most popular of these canvases, but you can find unusual shapes such as hearts or hemispheres as well, in a variety of sizes.

Oblong Canvases

These are long in one direction and slender in the other, sort of like a panoramic-view photo, but they can be aligned to be either wide or tall. You might find oblong canvases in sizes as small as 3-by-9 inches or as large as 12-by-36 inches. These are pretty rare and are often used to create paintings intended to be lined up side by side.

Custom-Sized Canvases

If you don't want to conform, you can purchase specially sized canvases, or you can stretch your own canvas in any size and shape you'd like. These can be quite expensive to buy, make or frame and challenging to hang.

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Bigger Isn't Always Better: How to Pick the Perfect Art Canvas