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How to Paint on Canvas


According to a survey by Bluprint, three-quarters of Americanswant to have an artistic hobby — and they'd rather have one over a Netflix subscription.

Perhaps you're one of the many people who is seeking an artistic outlet. The idea of painting your own masterpiece has caught your attention, but you have a few questions. You want to know how to paint on canvas before you pick up your brush. 

Luckily, the pros have their fair share of tips to make painting on canvas an enjoyable creative outlet. Here are six of the best ideas to try: 

1. Gather Your Supplies

Before you start painting on canvas, you'll want to pick up the supplies that every artist needs. Start with your canvas: most newbies opt for cotton canvas, as it's more cost-effective than linen, the choice of most professional artists. 

Next, you'll need to get a selection of paint colors and a palette on which you can mix them — a palette knife will be handy to help with the latter, too. Invest in differently sized brushes so that you can create large strokes and small details with ease. 

Decide between acrylic and oil paints at this point, too. Acrylics are cheaper and they dry quickly, but it's harder to blend colors together. If you want crisp, clean edges on your drawing, though, acrylics may be the way to go. 

Oil paints will dry on your canvas in the same color as they appear on your palette. Plus, you can easily blend them. They take longer to dry, though. 

Brushes should have firm bristles, too. As tempting as it may be to pick up your old craft supplies, such as watercolor brushes, you'll want to invest in specialty brushes to paint on canvas. 

Before you paint, you'll want to grab a cup of water for cleaning your brushes, as well as a roll of paper towels or a rag to dry things off. An easel makes painting easier, too, and can help you tilt your canvas to the perfect angle for painting.

2. Make Yourself Comfortable

It's not a quick job to paint on canvas. So, you'll want to make yourself comfortable before you get started. 

Decide first whether you will sit or stand while you paint. Then, adjust your easel so that it's at a comfortable distance for you to stroke paint on the canvas in front of you. You'll also want to make sure you can easily see your painting subject if you have one. 

If you're not sure where to start, maybe try pouring yourself a glass of your favorite libation, too. This article will help you pair your new hobby with the perfect beverage to help you let loose and start creating.

3. Sketch It Out

If you're new to painting but a skilled sketcher, then use your expertise to your advantage. You can draw on your canvas with a pencil first — paint can easily cover these gray marks. 

Some painters do what's called a wash first. They use watered-down paint to outline the scene or figure they envision.

Either way, this is a great tip for beginners. You don't have to start painting right away — you can prepare a bit to ensure your final product is just what you envision.

4. Learn to Erase Mistakes

There's no such thing as a mistake in art. But if you don't like the way a stroke has turned out on your canvas, all is not lost. 

Instead, if your paint is still wet, you can erase it with the help of your palette knife. Make sure it's clean before scraping away the unwanted paint. Clean up the remaining color with water or linseed oil — the latter works best for oil paints. 

Even if your canvas has dried, you can still fix what you see as errors. You can gently remove dried paint with sandpaper, then wipe it clean with linseed oil or water. Apply a layer of white paint to the area and let it dry before painting over it.

5. Use Your Canvas Wedges

Chances are, the canvas you bought came with some little pieces of wedge-shaped wood in the packet. As you paint, you'll realize why they're there. 

Sometimes, canvases can start to sag or droop under the weight of the paint you apply. Over time, too, canvases may start to sag as they get older or if the temperature changes in your space. 

Once the painting is dry, you can hammer your canvas wedges into the corners of your canvas. This will retighten the face of your canvas and make it picture-perfect.

6. Store Your Canvases Properly

Once you finish your painting, you may think the job is done. But you should think again — you will need to safely store your canvas in order to preserve your artwork. 

You can keep your canvas on your easel, so long as it's in a place where it won't be knocked off or otherwise touched. Keep your artwork out of the reach of pets and kids for that reason, too. 

You'll also want to store your canvas in a temperature-controlled room. You don't want it sitting in direct sunlight or in humidity, either. 

How to Paint on Canvas? There's No Right Way

These tips can help you get started, but the truth is, there's no right or wrong way. You should learn how to paint on canvas in a way that helps you express yourself and flex your creativity. That's the best way to do it.

If you're still feeling creatively inspired, check out our latest DIY ideas and projects.