The Best Surface Materials for Creating Oil Paintings

Oil paints are a classic medium for realistic paintings that audiences have always appreciated with good taste. The glossy appearance, the textured look, and the vivid colors all make oil paintings so special.

The idea of using oil paints often daunts oil painting beginners. It is, indeed, a difficult medium and requires careful manoeuvring and brush stroke techniques. With its long drying time, you can work on and edit the piece for days.

The final look of the painting depends on the medium as much as it the surface you use. If you’re starting, here are all the options you can use.


Canvas is the most popular surface that most artists use. A canvas has a wooden frame with cotton or linen stretched over it. This canvas material is great for layering oil paints, and it gives the final painting a textured look.

Canvas is light and easy to carry around. This mobility helps artists move with natural lighting and transport their paintings with ease. Additionally, the canvas material also lends longevity to the painting. Oil paintings are superior because of how long-lasting they are, and canvas only adds to their life.

Cardboard or Paper

Traditionally, paper is not used for oil paintings – and for a good reason! The paper absorbs the oil and becomes stained with oil marks. The paints don’t glide on paper the way they do on other surfaces.

However, paper or cardboard can be used as a surface if it’s primed properly. The process of priming involves layering the paper with gesso. Additionally, thin, brittle, or old paper shouldn’t be used for this purpose. Instead, invest in thick printmaking paper or purpose-made oil sketching paper. Cardboard is also a good option if you want a thick surface that is both light and easy to carry.

Another advantage of using paper is its absorbing quality. It allows the painting to dry quickly, which can be considered a plus for artists who don’t like oil paint’s long drying time.


While canvas may be the most superior option to using as a surface, you have other options.

Hardboard is a relatively cheaper option with a rigid surface. If you paint frequently, you may not be able to afford a canvas each time. In this case, a hardboard is a great alternative. The smooth surface allows your paintbrush to glide on it. The paint applies smoothly and allows swift layering of color.

Another advantage of using hardboard for oil paints is that they don’t crack easily on this surface. As the painting dries, the cracks don’t appear on other surfaces, especially canvas.

Woman doing oil painting on hardboard

Get Custom Oil Painting on a Surface of Your Choice

The surface you use is just as important as the medium you use for your paintings. Both contribute to giving your painting a realistic, life-like appearance. Oil paintings may be tricky to make, but with the right surface, an artist can do wonders with it.

If you’re also looking for custom hand-painted oil paintings, reach out to us at FotoKreations. We’re experts at creating inspiring art that’s perfect for giving your loved ones or hanging in your space to spruce it up.

Our experts at FotoKreation can also turn your cherished photos to oil paintings and hand embroidery. Check out our artworks and get your hands on our top-quality, custom-curated pieces now.

For more details, give us a call at 1-415-608-5796.