Rereading what I wrote about preparing a canvas, I realized that I didn’t emphasize the main goal enough. Yes, it’s important to protect the canvas, but the real goal is to make a great surface.
The best surface is smooth.
How smooth? If you’ve done lithography, then you know how wonderful litho stones are for drawing. Litho stones are so good that it’s impossible to make poor drawings on them. You want to make surfaces that are litho stone smooth with just a little tooth–400-grit sandpaper, not 800-grit.
The best way to achieve smoothness is by finishing with at least two (don’t skimp) layers of lead-oil ground. I add a small amount of drier to the final layers. For the last layer, I add a tad of copal varnish. I apply the lead-oil grounds with a scrapper and then lightly sand them when they’re dry.
Here is my newest painting, Bash, which I prepared as described. I’m still in the underpainting stage, as you can see, but the smooth oil-ground makes everything easier.
Bash is 40″ x 54″