How to prepare canvas for acrylic painting on canvas

Suzi Nassif paintings

For artists, one of the most important tools of their trade is the canvas. Apart from the brushes and paints (oils or acrylic), canvas is also quite important, for without a canvas, real work will be difficult to do. A canvas is the surface they paint on. It is most often made of a fabric woven together closely such as the one you find as boat sails. A canvas can also be a tightly stretched cloth which has not been bleached. This is the surface artists work their magic on.

Here is an artist at work in her Studio, you may see she is using a well prepared canvas while painting:

Suzi Nassif in her Studio 1 - How to prepare canvas for acrylic painting on canvas

To create any form of acrylic painting on canvas, the canvas must be primed for that painting. Painting on a raw, unprepared canvas can use up a lot of paint, produce substandard work, and also produce works that might not be able to stand the test of time. For any famous oil painting which is expected to last for years and years, the canvas must be primed to ensure the painting lasts and the acrylic painting techniques used on the painting are preserved. Therefore, a canvas must always be prepared.

Below are the step by step instructions on how to prime a raw canvas for acrylic painting:

The materials needed to achieve the priming of a canvas are quite simple. A material called gesso which is suitable for acrylic painting on canvas, a stretched canvas, container of water, paint brushes, fine sandpaper, paper towels, and finally a surface (newsprint) to lay your canvas on.

The steps are:

  1. Pour out just enough gesso into a small cup or on top of a palette.
  2. Decide the number of coats you want to add on your canvas. This will largely depend on the type of acrylic painting technique you want to use while painting.
  3. If you need just one coat of the gesso, then you don’t need to thin it out with water. If you’re applying more than one coat, then pour a little bit of water to the desired consistency
  4. Stir well. Do not miss this step regardless of the number of coatings you decided on.
  5. Using a clean brush, apply the gesso onto the surface of your canvas. Paint across the whole surface, not forgetting the sides too. Note that you can apply a drop of acrylic paint to give the gesso some color. This largely depends on the type of acrylic painting technique you are adopting.
  6. Give the first layer a few hours to dry out.
  7. Clean your brushes out as gesso dries quickly and it can be difficult to clean once dry
  8. If you need just one coat, you can just apply a light coat of fine sand at this point.
  9. If you decide on two coats, apply the next one perpendicular to the first coating. Let it dry out, and sand again.
  10. After sanding, clean up any dust residue with a rag.
  11. You can add as many coatings as you want and alternate between thick and thin gesso to create some texture.

If you want to produce long lasting sustainable artwork on canvas the above mentioned procedure to prepare your canvas is the ultimate initial step you take. View artworks by Suzi Nassif in Gallery

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *