Flax is also used in the "canvas" and "oil" of oil paintings

Do you know what is used for the canvas material used in oil paintings? There are various types of materials, and flax is actually one of them. Flax has an inseparable relationship with oil painting, as the oil taken from flax is also used as oil for oil painting. I will explain about the canvas made from such flax and the plants that are the raw materials, and also the flax oil that is also used for oil painting.

What is "canvas" used in oil painting?

Canvas is a thick cloth made of vertical and horizontal threads. You can often see this cloth pasted on a wooden frame that is assembled in a square. The painter may do this work, but the canvases that have already been sewn are also sold at stores that handle painting materials. The main materials for canvas are flax, cotton, etc. Let's compare the difference between a canvas made of flax and a canvas made of other materials.

Canvas history

The oldest work drawn on canvas is said to have been made in France around 1410. Before that, I used to paint on wooden boards, but since wood is vulnerable to moisture and easily damaged, it seems that I gradually switched to canvas materials made of flax fibers. In addition, although there were restrictions on the size of wooden boards, canvas, which is a cloth, was useful because it can be used in any size as long as it can be woven.

Difference between flax canvas and canvas of other materials

Canvas made of flax is very delicate, has little expansion and contraction, and is resistant to oil oxidation. Also, because the fibers are solid, it is strong and strong, and it is also suitable for making large works. In addition to that, it is also known as a cloth that has adaptability such as fine depiction and thick coating with oil painting, and it is said that flax is the most sought after painting material canvas. There are also canvases made from synthetic fibers such as cotton and nylon.

Cotton: Cotton is taken from annuals of the Malvaceae family. The raw material is white and soft fibers around the seeds. As a canvas, it has few irregularities and is smooth, so it can be said that it is suitable for detailed depiction. However, it is vulnerable to oil oxidation and has a delicate side such as tearing when dried, so it may not be suitable for oil painting.

Synthetic fibers such as nylon ... Canvas can be made from synthetic fibers such as viscose fibers and polyester in addition to nylon. Since it is made of synthetic fibers rather than natural products, it is resistant to pests and moisture, and is also known for its low expansion and contraction. However, it is sensitive to heat and easily deforms, so if it is deformed from the colored part, it will not return.

Linseed oil is used as an oil for oil paintings

Flax stalks become fibers that become flax threads, which are woven into canvas and linen, and flax seeds are squeezed into oil. Many people know the name "linseed oil" because it is treated on TV programs and is good for health, but linseed oil is used not only as cooking oil but also as oil for oil paintings. So, in this item, I tried to summarize what flaxseed oil is and why it is used in oil paintings.

What is flaxseed oil?

Flaxseed oil is an oil that is squeezed from flax seeds. What is generally known is linseed oil as an edible oil.

Flaxseed oil is rich in omega 3, one of the components found in lipids. This omega 3 contains α-linolenic acid as the main component, and can be expected to have the effect of smoothing blood. In addition, flaxseed oil is used as "linseed oil" to improve the adhesion of oil paints, when you want stickiness or when you want to dilute it, or when you want to polish it.

What is linseed oil for oil painting?

The oil paint used in oil painting is a pigment kneaded with oil. This oil paint does not contain any water, so you must use oil (dissolved oil) when diluting.

The reason why "linseed oil" is used as an oil for oil painting is that it dries quickly because it contains a lot of linolenic acid, and it has excellent stickiness and durability. In addition, it is difficult for the paint to crack after drying.

By using oil that takes advantage of the characteristics of linseed oil in oil paintings, the components contained in the oil solidify and the color is fixed on the canvas.

Reference: From flax to flaxseed oil


As mentioned above, the material flax is useful as a painting material for canvas and linseed oil for oil painting. Flax has a long history of walking with humankind. In many cases, it has been used as "linen" as a textile material for clothes, dining tables, and beds, but the use of that material has also extended to oil paintings. It can be said that it is proof that it has been loved for a long time in Europe, which has a long history of art and culture such as oil painting. Please take a look at other pages as they cover flax in detail.

Reference: What is flaxseed oil?

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