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Updated by Joanna James on Oct 03, 2019
Headline for 8 Invaluable tips for painting on Canvas – Things you shouldn’t overlook when painting on canvas
Joanna James Joanna James
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8 Invaluable tips for painting on Canvas – Things you shouldn’t overlook when painting on canvas

Painting on canvas can prove to be a bit of challenge, particularly if you are new. Are you worried that you won’t get it right? Well, no need to fret, here are eight know-hows to get you going.


Choose the right brush

First things first; you need to choose the right brushes; one brush will not suffice. To paint on a canvas, you are going to need oil-paint or acrylic brushes. Also, make sure your brushes have stiff bristles and long handles, if you are to master the thick material of your canvas, you need something stronger than your usual watercolour brush.


Make sure you have everything you need

The painting you saw at Sri Lanka Art Gallery whilst exploring Sri Lanka art demanded many more pre-requisites than you’d imagine. Would you like your canvas to be upright or at an angle? Then you are going to need an easel; you can try painting on a flat surface too. Something that would really make the entire process of painting easier is to have everything at the ready – have your colour palette, knives, paintbrushes and other supplies prepared before you start painting.


Do a test run with your colours

You won’t run into problems of any kind with oil paint, but if you are using acrylics, they turn out to be a little darker when it is dry. Keep this in mind before you start painting so you won’t be disappointed at the colour it turns out to be – test your colours on a scrap paper and let it dry before you proceed with the painting.


Prepare your canvas

If this is your first time painting, start with a canvas that’s already stretched out on a wooden frame. Once that’s sorted, all you have to do is prep your canvas, and what you need is something like gesso – this step is also called colour toning your canvas. This is a necessary step if you are to have a smooth surface for painting; it’ll also protect your brushes and make it much more fun.


Background colour

After applying the gesso, try adding a background colour to your canvas. For example, if you are planning to paint a dark skyline, an absolutely white background wouldn’t be very conducive, but if your background is something like dark grey, it’ll work better with your painting.


Use a medium

If your paint is too thick, it’s going to give you a lot of trouble. This is why you need to add a medium to your oil paint or acrylic to reduce its thickness. Using a medium will also solve the problems that arise in terms of texture and drying time. Furthermore, before mixing your colour with a medium, do some research as to which one you should use.



This is a great proactive measure you should take if you are a beginner. The same rule applies whether it’s acrylic or oil paint. If you are wondering what underpainting is, underpainting is the step where you create an outline for your masterpiece in an opposing colour. It isn’t visible through your masterpiece, and by doing this, your painting will have more depth and texture.


Have a space ready for drying

Drying the canvas can prove to be a little tricky. It’s best if you can have a spot ready before you start your work. If you can find a non-sticky space, that’d do the job well, and if you can’t, you can just let it dry on the easel.

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