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Canvas Painting Tips – A Beginner’s Guide to Painting on Canvas

Canvas Painting Tips – A Beginner’s Guide to Painting on Canvas

If you are a first-time painter you might have a ton of ideas running through your head, but where do you start? We hope these canvas painting tips and guidelines will help you through the process, so you can focus on simply being creative.

How to Start Canvas Painting

A Canvas surface offers many more benefits when compared to paper. Canvas is more durable, and any painting should last for a very long time. You also get many different sizes of canvas, all of which are easy to use. However, you should consider a few things first when painting on canvas.

Choosing the Right Canvas

Paintings in the past were often done on wooden panels, however, often paintings suffered warping and cracking due to the rigid surface. This is where canvas becomes more popular, as it is lightweight and if prepared properly, will not warp or crack. Canvas is a woven fabric that has been used for many years for things like sails or to make tents. In the art world, it is used as a painting surface and is usually stretched over a wooden frame.

Popular Canvas Types

Canvas is affordable, sturdy, and when prepared correctly, paintings should last a long time. The technical term for this is archival. You can walk into any art supply store to find an array of canvas options.

Cotton Canvas

This is your most affordable option and is the best choice for beginners. When you prepare a cotton canvas properly, it should last a long time. The canvas is usually flexible and durable, and you can get canvasses that already have an acrylic primer applied.

Linen Canvas

Linen is even more durable and lasts longer than cotton canvas. However, this option is also more expensive. A linen canvas often comes ready-primed, will not warp over time, offers superior support, and is a better-quality surface to paint on, which makes it a popular choice for many professional painters.

Canvas Board

This is another good choice for beginners and is also a more affordable option. Some are boards that have been primed and stamped to exhibit a canvas-like texture, while others are made from primed cotton canvas that has been stretched over fiberboard. Canvas boards are thinner than normal canvas and are a great choice if you want to do plein air painting. Canvas boards are also more rigid, while other options are more flexible.

Some Alternatives to Canvas

There are also a few alternatives you can use to paint on. Some of these are more expensive like the gesso board. These are made from high-density hardwood and are strong, but lightweight. They come in various thicknesses and offer superior brush control. You can also choose a metal surface, which is non-porous and naturally smooth. This option is also lightweight, and the two best options would be copper and aluminum.

Choosing a Paint Medium

There is more than one type of paint you can use on canvas, the two most popular are oil paints and acrylic paints. Oil paints offer an amazing depth of color and flexibility and can be applied in a variety of ways. The paints can be mixed and layered easier than other options. There are loads of techniques you can incorporate from glazing to impasto.

Acrylic paints, on the other hand, dry quite quickly, so there is a smaller window of time to work. However, they are quite versatile and can be used from the tube for vibrant color and can be diluted to create more of a watercolor effect. Acrylics are also safer to use as you only need water to clean everything. There are also quite a few acrylic mediums and additives you can use that have various results.

Setting Up

Before you even begin painting, you should set up a painting space where you have access to all your art supplies. Do you like to remain seated when painting or do you prefer standing? You will need to decide if you prefer to paint on a flat surface or an easel that provides an upright or angled surface to paint on. Have all brushes, paints, and palette knives close at hand.

Choosing Paintbrushes

Some brushes suit canvas painting better than others. For example, you should not be using watercolor brushes when using oil or acrylic paints, as they are too delicate and will be severely damaged. Acrylic brushes are best suited for painting on canvas as they are more durable. You can purchase individual brushes, or you can also get various brush sets. There are a few different paintbrushes you can have in a collection from flat to fan, round, and round tip brushes.

Painting on Canvas

How to start canvas painting? Applying gesso is a step in the right direction when painting on canvas. However, if you used white gesso, you still have the daunting blank surface, to begin with. To help things progress more easily, you can apply a ground color. If you have not used a colored gesso, this is simply a base coat of paint. This can help to take the hesitation out of moving forward when painting.

Paint Colors

When using oil paints, they dry to approximately the same color it was applied. When it comes to acrylic art on canvas, the paints are different because they can dry a little darker than when it was applied. When it comes to acrylics, you must learn to adjust the color mixes so that you achieve the proper colors.

Drying the Painting

You should leave the canvas to dry in a well-ventilated, cool, and dry space. However, it must be a safe place where nobody can touch it and where there is little dust. This is especially important for oil paints that take longer to dry.

Making Use of Canvas Wedges

You may have noticed a little bag with wooden wedges in them when purchasing a canvas. What you should be doing with these is hammering them into the holes on the inside of the canvas in the corners. This creates more tension on the surface of the canvas. You need this tension to be able to control brush strokes better.

Erase Mistakes

You can try to erase any mistakes with water if you are using acrylic paints, white titanium paint, or sandpaper. You can first try to scrape the paint off if it is still wet with a palette knife. You can then use some water or linseed oil to wipe the area carefully. Paint over with the white paint and carry on from there. If the acrylic paint happens to be dry, you can take sandpaper and lightly remove the paint.

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