Canvas is a model craftsmen’s help and offers an abundance of points of advantages over paper – not in any event that it’s substantially more strong, and can guarantee your work endures through years. Since before the Renaissance, To paint on canvas has always been a tradition in the arts. Artists have been using oil and acrylic paints to make great pieces of art on the canvas. If you’ve predominantly worked in your sketchbooks or on paper up until now, causing the transition to canvas can be an overwhelming possibility. You can paint on canvas like the masters of art if you have the right materials and accurately prepare your canvas.
Choosing an easel
Know the types. Easel is the first thing you need before painting on canvas. When you’re buying one you need to keep in mind the main function of your easel. Likewise, think about the place where you’ll be painting. Depending upon your requirement you should buy an easel.
If you paint on canvas while you travel then you need a small travel easel. The most important thing to consider when buying a travel easel is its weight and collapsing features. There are varieties of options available in the market – a lightweight aluminium one with collapsible legs. There is one that folds ups and would fit perfectly on your travel case.
You should go for a table easel if you have very little space. You can use them on desks or tables of any size or height. Instead of long legs, the come with a sturdy base that sits on any flat surface plus they don’t take up room on the floor. Most of these have a notched surface and can hold canvases up to 35 inches. You can shift the back to fit any angle.
Large Studio Easel
If you want easels for long term use then consider large studio ones. These are heavy-duty and can hold large canvases. Large studio easels with big masts let you work on the bottom of the canvases at eye level on any size canvas.
Getting your materials
Choose your canvas
First and foremost you need to choose the size of the canvas and what proportions you need for your project. Secondly, the material of the canvas. Canvases come as little as a couple of inch square and as extensive as a full-sized divider. 11×14 and 48×72 is the range for the most popular sizes of canvas.
Canvases are basically of two types – linen and cotton. Linen offers a reasonably better surface than cotton because of its more noteworthy quality and better surface when contrasted with cotton. However, if you’re just starting then you can experiment on cotton first.
Decide on the paints
Oil and acrylic are the two major types of paint used on canvas. Both have their pros and cons. However, you should weigh the pros and cons of each and then decide which one will be best for your project. You should also consider the subject and way of your painting.
If you want to do many layers or apply crisp lines then acrylic paints may help. But they dry fast so it can be difficult to mix paint or painting on large surfaces. Color blending is hard. Acrylic paints appear darker when they dry on the canvas. You can use both thin and thick layers in your painting because the paint will dry all the way through. Acrylics are non-toxic and have no smell.
Oil paints might make your working times longer because they take longer to dry than acrylics. It makes hard to make crisp lines due to their extra drying time. But they blend excellently and make transitions between colors easy. The color of the paint doesn’t change after drying but it will turn yellowish over time as the oil oxidizes. Oils are toxic and have a pungent smell due to the use of turpentine to dilute the colors.
Choose appropriate brushes
For any type of painting, you will need to have brushes and that depends on the medium that you plan to paint on canvas with. There are 8 variants of brushes available. They are made with natural and synthetic fibers and come in many different sizes.
For acrylics, you should buy synthetic brushes. Natural hair brushes degrade over time due to the components present in the acrylic paint.
For oils, natural hair brushes are better. Their bristles are hard and make distinct marks on the canvas. If you buy synthetic ones then make sure they are made for oil painting.
Four most common brushes – round, flat, bright, and filbert. For detailed work, you can choose the pointed round, angular flat, fan, and detailed round brushes.
Gather other materials
Few other things you need are a palette or a paint tray to mix colors. Also, get a palette cover to prevent your colors from drying up. A color chart to see and mix different colors. You may also need palette knives to mix colors or painting large areas of the canvas. You should also use an apron to keep your clothes clean.
Sizing the Canvas
Pick your size. Sizing of the canvas is done by painting a type of glue to the surface of the canvas. It helps in filling the holes in the fabric of the canvas so that the paints aren’t absorbed and misshapen. The type of size depends on the kind of paint you’re working with. If you’re using oil colors for your painting, then you need to size to avoid color fading. While working with acrylics or watercolors you need not size your canvas.
Using rabbit skin glue is the most traditional method to size a canvas. You can use either polyvinyl acetate or PVA size for oil as they both are much popular. While using rabbit skin glue, you have to mix it with water first.
Pour a liberal amount of your size onto the surface of the canvas. Paint the size across the canvas using a large brush. Do this until all the sizing is spread evenly. Then allow it to dry for 30 minutes. Ensure you do this in even, straight strokes. To prevent degradation over time, apply the size to every side of the canvas.
Pour some more size onto the canvas and then paint on canvas using the same brush. Make sure to rub this layer into the canvas so that no holes are left unfilled. Take your brush and move along in even strokes as you’re about to finish the second layer. This will make the surface smooth. Let it dry.
If your size looks little thin then you might need a third layer. This depends on the quality of the size you choose to use.
Priming the Canvas
Understand the technique. Priming of the canvas is done to finish it getting it ready for painting. For this, we use paint-like material called gesso. The gesso creates a surface for the paint adheres to once it’s applied. Gessoes are different for oils, acrylics, and watercolors. However, acrylic gesso is now used for both acrylic and oil painting.
When your second layer of size has dried, you have to prime your canvas. The primer you use will depend on the medium that you choose to paint on canvas. Primers come in white or translucent colors that provide natural lighting for your painting.
Pour the gesso on your canvas; you can take Opus acrylic gesso. Using a large brush, paint on the canvas in even strokes. Wait 30 minutes to 1 hour for the gesso to dry.
After the first layer is dried, turn your canvas 90 degrees. Apply another coat of gesso just like you applied the first. Let it dry and repeat until you have enough layers for your painting. You will need three layers of gesso for acrylic paint. You’ll require four layers of gesso for oil paint.
If you’re planning to use watercolors then you need something extra on the canvas. Apply two layers of gesso and on top of that, apply an absorbent such as Golden’s Absorbent Ground. Apply at least 5-6 layers of ground to the surface of the canvas. Leave it to dry for 24 hours before you paint on canvas
Create a smooth surface
If you prefer a smooth surface for your painting, then add one more layer of gesso to your sized canvas. After the gesso dries up, rub a piece of coarse sandpaper across your canvas. You can apply as many coats of gesso as you need depending on how smooth you want your surface to be. Sand between each one and after the last.
If you don’t want to bother yourselves with sizing or priming, then you can buy pre-primed canvases that don’t need any sizing or priming.
Toning the Canvas
At this point, you might be thinking: All this is great, but what do you do when working with pastel? Pastel paper is known to come in various hues. You can likewise tone your canvas before you paint on canvas. The advantage of toning is when you apply thin paint in the dark areas some of the colors will glow through.
Painting the Canvas
Paint a background. This point depends on your subject matter. Paint background using a large brush. This is to be done before you start to apply for other paints.
Start your work. Now that you have primed the canvas, you have your brushes and you have your colors, you can start your work. You can sketch the outline of your subject before you start to paint on canvas. If you’re working on a more abstract subject, then you can just begin painting on the canvas.
Even small canvases can prove unwieldy when wet. Make sure before you even begin the composition that you have a sheltered spot for it to dry. Be careful if setting it to dry on newsprint paper, as even the scarcest touch to the paint can cause staying and muddled cleanup. A non-stick surface is great, if possible. (Or simply leave it on the easel!)
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