December 02, 2021

Canvas Wall Art: Everything You Need to Know

Canvas Wall Art: Everything You Need to Know

In this article we break down everything you need to know about this popular print medium.

First, we will give a brief history of stretched canvas, break down the top 3 benefits of canvas wall art, and we will explain the different ways to order canvas prints such as gallery wrapped canvas, framed or as a triptych.  

Canvas Wall Art: Timeless and Classic

From original oil paintings to high quality reproductions of both paintings and photographic prints, canvas is extremely versatile. It complements a wide variety of decor styles, from modern to vintage and everything in between. 

Canvas wall art has proven the test of time, from its origin in the 1400’s to the present day.  A glimpse at its history is literal testament to that point!  Stretched canvas became the preferred painting medium for classic oil painters during the Italian Renaissance in the 16th century.  Italian and French painters had an affinity for the medium for a variety of reasons- and these same benefits are the main reasons it remains a favorite to this day.

Frame styles change and become outdated, while aluminum and acrylic face-mounted art prints are arguably more suitable for modern decor. Over the centuries, classic stretched canvas art has prevailed as the medium that is here to stay.  

Canvas wall art of Santorini, Greece

Rising Light Gallery Wrapped Canvas by John Scanlan


Modern home with canvas wall art

A Path to Remember Gallery Wrapped Canvas


Canvas Wall Art Benefit #1: Budget Friendly

Back in the 16th century, canvas material was made of tightly woven hemp, used to make sails for sailboats. Painters found that the material was both easy to come by and affordable!  Today, most canvases are made of woven cotton, another affordable commodity, with some large canvases made of (more costly) linen.  

When it comes to purchasing artwork, stretched canvas is one of the most cost-effective choices because a frame is not required. (Add in a frame and the average price becomes similar to framed fine art paper prints).


Autumn in Amsterdam Gallery Wrapped Canvas

Autumn in Amsterdam Gallery Wrapped Canvas


Italy Canvas Wall Art

Amore Gallery Wrapped Canvas


Canvas Wall Art Benefit #2: Quality & Longevity

Revisiting the 16th century once more, Venetian painters struggled with finding a painting medium that stood up to their humid environment and would not warp, sag or shrink over time.  Once again, canvas for the win!  The fibers are capable of being tightly stretched, so warping and shrinking is much less likely.  On a large scale, that can still be a concern, but mostly that became a non-issue.

With inkjet printing these days, canvas prints are an extremely high quality media option, whether you want a small 12x16” print or a larger than life 72x48” print.

Additionally, high quality canvas prints have top notch archival properties, often with 100+ year lifespans. Many high quality canvas art prints are coated in a UV protective finish and as another bonus, are naturally glare resistant. If your wall is facing a window or getting a good amount of ambient light, UV protected canvas is a wise choice.

Living room with large Italy canvas art

Serenata Gallery Wrapped Canvas by Lee Sie


Canvas Wall Art Benefit #3: Versatility

In terms of subject matter, canvas is suitable for virtually all types - abstract, landscape, seascapes, cityscapes, macro, portraits, and the list goes on.  Coming from a photography gallery background featuring detailed landscape photography, I had a preconceived notion that crisp aluminum prints and/or fine art photo paper either framed or acrylic face-mounted were the optimal media options to highlight the exquisite detail of digital photography.  I will say, seeing is believing.

The first time I saw Bella Bellagio by John Scanlan on stretched canvas (below) with my own eyes, those notions faded away. The detail in this photograph was certainly not lost when printed on canvas - if anything, the warm glow and sense of depth was enhanced. It was stunning!  


Panorama canvas Italy wall art in dining room

Bella Bellagio Gallery Wrapped Canvas by John Scanlan


Contrasting with the detailed landscape image, this abstract beach photograph is perfectly suited printed on canvas.

Abstract Ocean Canvas Art

Soft Curl Gallery Wrapped Canvas by Dave Ness


Different Ways to Order Canvas Prints

There are three primary ways to order canvas wall art - wrapped canvas, framed canvas, or as a triptych.  Each of those options begins with the canvas print being stretched over stretcher bars.  


Wrapped Canvas

For the cost-effective option, once the canvas is stretched, you are done!  Simply hang the wrapped canvas print and enjoy. The term “gallery wrapped” refers to the method of stretching the canvas all the way over the stretcher bars and securing it on the back of the piece so that the edges are not exposed once hung. It is a polished look and our preference!

Abstract ocean wave on canvas

Translucent Curl Gallery Wrapped Canvas by Dave Ness


Colorful sunset palm tree photo on canvas

California Sunset Gallery Wrapped Canvas by Lee Sie


Framed Canvas

Another option is to add a “float” frame. The frame is attached to the back of the stretched canvas, leaving a narrow gap all the way around the front of the piece which creates the subtle illusion the canvas is floating within the frame.  The addition of a frame can transform the piece to complement a variety of decor styles: contemporary, vintage, rustic, modern, eclectic..


A barnwood float frame can add a rustic or beachy feel to a canvas print.


Framed surfer picture

La Jolla Shores Surfer Framed Canvas by Roy Kerckhoffs


Adding a black float frame to a canvas piece makes for a modern or classic look.

Mid century modern room with framed art of the Eiffel Tower, France

Autumn in Paris Framed Canvas by Lee Sie


An espresso float frame adds a touch of warmth.

Framed canvas wall art of wine bottles

Wine Harvest Framed Canvas by John Scanlan


A crisp white float frame adds some modern elegance.

Framed Canvas Beach Art

Daydream on Canvas with White Float Frame by Sandra Kourah 



This option is only available for certain images.  Ordering the stretched canvas as a triptych divides the image into three equal pieces.  This covers a large wall with ease, adds interest and is very popular with abstract art. 

Triptych canvas wall art abstract ocean

Ocean Colors Triptych Gallery Wrapped Canvas by Dave Ness


Canvas triptych wall art in coastal modern living room

Ocean Mood Triptych Gallery Wrapped Canvas by Dave Ness


Shop our canvas wall art collections by category here: Canvas Wall Art


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