5 Painting on Canvas Tips Worth Knowing About

Are you struggling with your canvas painting?

If you like using oil and acrylic paints canvas is a great surface to paint on. It’s lightweight, affordable, and very sturdy. When you treat it with gesso, it’ll stay in great condition for at least 70 years. But painting on canvas comes with unique challenges. When starting, this can feel daunting and leave you frustrated.

Don’t worry, we’re here to help! Keep reading for these painting on canvas tips you won’t want to miss.

1. Preparation is Key

The best canvas for painting is a prepared one; use a pre-stretched canvas or do it yourself. This might seem obvious, but if you’re using pre-stretched, make sure you take the wrapping off.

Prime the canvas with gesso (the most popular option). You can get it for a variety of paints including oil, acrylic, and tempera. Gesso is there to protect the canvas fibers from paint and outside contaminants.

It also provides a surface that’s a little softer for painting on. This helps you use less paint to create your masterpiece, and also helps protect your brushes too.

2. Use Tonal Backgrounds to Set a Mood

One of the best painting tips is to set the mood right from the start. As well as gesso, you can use an all-over tone that will create this in an instant.

For example, a bright, white canvas isn’t going to convey the mood of a stormy, rough coastal scene. But using a coat of blue-gray that blends dips, and lightens will give that moodiness right from the start.

It’ll give a more powerful look to your work, especially if you want to turn it into a product. For example, using it as a print online. Check out these products for more inspiration.

3. Make the Underpainting

Canvas is usually used for opaque paints, so this is your chance to play with underpainting. This is where you draw on an outline, often in opposing color to add depth to a finished piece. You’ll find that it does this, even when you can’t see the outline itself after the paint goes on.

4. Adjust Your Colors

Different types of paint behave in different ways. Oils tend to dry the same color they looked when you applied them. Acrylics though tend to come out a little darker than when you paint with them.

Adjust your colors to take this into account if you’re using acrylics. Prepare for a color you mix to be at least a shade darker than it appears fresh on the canvas, so mix lighter.

Small test canvases are a great idea to help you test out your colors before you use them. This allows you to see how dark a color will dry before you apply it, and possibly ruin your work.

5. Play Around With Medium

When you’re painting on canvas it’s a great time to mess about with a medium. Mediums can add to oil or acrylic paints, creating interesting effects. Most of these effects were actually intended for use on canvas too.

There is a wide variety to choose from. Some oil paint media can add a high-gloss or matte finish to the paint. Some acrylic media will add texture, gloss, or body. Play around and get creative, and most of all, have fun!

Painting on Canvas Tips to Reach Your Goals

Like any new hobby, it takes time to master something and canvas painting is no different. So, set yourself up for success with these painting on canvas tips.

If you prepare your canvas with a good primer, you’re setting yourself up for success. Less is more when it comes to paints and take your time to get your color shading right. Adding an underpainting will add depth, and mediums can make your work shine.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to check out our other blog posts for more hobby and lifestyle tips and tricks.