While canvas has traditionally been made of hemp, cotton and linen are now used. The threads are smaller and offer a smoother surface for painting. There are several steps that should be taken before an artist begins their painting. The first step is to check the canvas itself. The artist must look to see if any of the threads are about to come loose. Commercial canvases are generally well woven, but it always pays to be sure the threads will not come out once the work is begun.
An important step in preparing a canvas is to paint it a solid color before beginning a work. Many new artists choose to cover their canvas with a white background. This is often not recommended because it then takes more work to cover the white sufficiently. For those that will be painting a sky and landscape, two colors of paints should be used. A light blue toned paint is best for the area that will be the sky. For the landscape, a colored paint that will match the majority of the landscape colors is best. Each artist must decide what colors will work for their painting.
Once the canvas has been inspected and completely painted, the artist will generally draw an outline of the work they will create. This helps to give them a guide as they are applying the paint. This is often not a detailed drawing because that is not necessary. Artists are simply using the drawing to get the correct spacing and perspective into their work.
None of these steps have to be done by the artist before beginning their painting. Each one is a step that will make their work easier. Finishing all of these steps will allow the artist the joy of concentrating on creating the work they have envisioned.