How to do acrylic paint on canvas?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Materials Required

You need suitable materials to start with acrylic painting on canvas. To have a successful painting experience, you must have four key things: canvas, acrylic paints, brushes, and palette. Let’s look at these materials to see how they will contribute to your painting process.


When planning your project, consider using Artist’s Cloth. As a fabric, it is sturdy and durable.

Make a Table to outline essential details:

Details Ideal Media Texture
Ideal Media Acrylic paint, oil paint, mixed media, collage
Texture Stretched tight with tooth

Artist’s cloth absorbs paint, blending colors and creating unique textures. It can also bear multiple layers of paints. Other suitable surfaces are canvas boards and wooden panels. Invest in high-quality materials to improve the result. Who knows? Acrylic paints might be your new therapist!

Acrylic Paints

Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paint

Acrylic paints come in tubes, jars, or bottles of various sizes. Perfect for all surfaces, such as canvas, paper, wood, or plastic. They can be mixed with mediums to create unique effects like thick impasto textures or thin washes. Available in a variety of colors, including metallic and fluorescent shades. Water or special acrylic thinners can be used to thin them for more transparent layers. They’re also compatible with other types of paint or mixed media materials like pastels or charcoal.

It’s essential to clean brushes and palettes promptly after use to prolong the life of acrylic paint supplies. Acrylic paints have become increasingly popular among artists. Fast drying time and versatility, without compromising color intensity or pigmentation quality – make them a great choice.

High-quality acrylic paint from reputable brands like Golden Artist Colors or Liquitex will offer superior results. So, it’s time to get your hands dirty or use some good old brushes.


Brush Tools – Perfect End Result!

Quality brushes are essential for achieving a smooth finish in the artwork. Here’s a list of brush types and their uses:

  • Flat Brushes: Cover extensive areas with color.
  • Fan Brushes: Blending colors, creating texture, and smoothing out edges.
  • Round Brushes: Adding fine lines, detailed fill-ins, and highlighting edges.
  • Mop Brushes: For washes and glazing effects.
  • Filbert Brushes: They create thin and thick lines and blend colors for figurative works.
  • Angular Brushes: Creating sharp lines or blocks of color for shading or feathering.

Choose brushes of natural materials such as horsehair or sable for a comfortable grip and durability. Clean after use to maintain hair fibers. To add a professional touch, try hand-bound brushes crafted by artisans.

Interesting fact: Leonardo da Vinci invented round brushes that artists still use today! Put down that painter’s palette and grab some crayons – abstract expressionism awaits!


When choosing a palette, think about the message you wish to convey. Every color affects viewers and evokes certain emotions. Don’t let your content get lost in bad design. Choose a palette that represents you.

Before starting, be prepared for the frustration of not having the materials needed.

Consider these options:

  • Monochromatic: One base hue with variations.
  • Analogous: Colors adjacent to each other on the color wheel.
  • Complementary: Two colors directly opposite each other on the color wheel.
  • Triadic: Three colors equally spaced on the color wheel.

Prepare the Canvas

To prepare your canvas for acrylic painting, follow some steps. With “Preparing the Canvas” is not an exception. Get ready to start your painting journey with the help of this section. To achieve the best results, we will cover “Stretching” and “Priming,” both essential components to prepare your canvas for your acrylic painting masterpiece.


Look After the Canvas

When working with canvas, stretching is critical. This means making the fabric tight. This makes its fibers stable and ready for paint and other materials.

Here’s How to Stretch Canvas:

  1. Spray or soak the canvas in water.
  2. Place the wet canvas on a flat surface.
  3. Attach stretcher bars or batons around the edges, pulling the canvas.
  4. Use a staple gun to attach the fabric to each rod.

Keep in Mind:

Don’t over-stretch the canvas. Otherwise, it may warp or crack the paint later. Also, some surface texture can be retained by slightly loosening the fabric around specific areas, like corners.

An Interesting Fact:

Stretching canvases date back centuries. Artists used wooden frames instead of loose cloth pinned to walls. This was taken from embroidery, which uses a structure to help stitch and stop puckering.

Before priming your canvas, remember that good paint won’t hide lousy drawings.

Apply a primer on both sides.

Before you start painting, prepping the canvas is essential. Apply a primer on both sides and edges of the canvas to form a strong bond between the paint and the fabric. Different primers are suitable for oil, acrylic, or water-based paints. Pick the right one to avoid flaking, cracking, or uneven color distribution.

Lightly sandpaper the dried primer for smoother brush strokes. And don’t forget to keep your hands off the canvas to avoid oils from staining it.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC, discovered many famous paintings with an underpainting layer with different colors. This adds depth and dimensionality to the art. So get creative and prepare to paint the town with some vibrant hues!

Color Theory

Paint On Canvas 02
Paint on canvas

To master the use of color in your acrylic painting on canvas, you need to understand color theory with the sub-sections of choosing the right colors and color mixing techniques as a solution. By selecting the appropriate colors and applying effective mixing techniques, you can elevate your paintings to the next level and achieve your desired tone and hue.

Choose the Right Colors

Color selection isn’t just about picking beautiful hues. Appropriate colors must fit the design’s purpose, message, and environment. Color theory is critical in the selection process, considering hue, saturation, value, and contrast. The right mix of elements can evoke all sorts of feelings.

Designers need to know how colors interact and which ones are complementary. They must also think about the age group, gender, culture, and trends before picking colors for marketing or web projects. Different cultures have different interpretations, so the designer must know this when creating designs for various audiences.

Colors can bring back memories or create emotion. For example, blue stands for loyalty and trust but can be sad if used too much. Recognizing what every color means and its importance before using it in a project is essential.

Color selection has been around since ancient times. Aristotle’s writings impacted modern theories of color vision. But Johannes Itten established foundational principles in his book “The Art Of Color.” Today, designers don’t need a color wheel tool to create beautiful designs with complementary colors or triad harmony. Mixing colors is like a chemistry experiment – except instead of explosions; you get a beautiful hue that soothes the soul.

Color Mixing Techniques

Color theory is critical for practical designs. Try mixing colors with subtractive or additive processes. Subtractive combines cyan, magenta, and yellow pigments. Additive combines red, green, and blue light beams. Use lighter shades to create even more hues. Experiment with ratios to create unique shades for logos and brand palettes. Enhance designs with vibrant and deep colors. Don’t miss out on this chance to paint like a pro with Bob Ross-approved techniques!

Basic Acrylic Painting Techniques

To master the basic techniques of acrylic painting on canvas with ease, you can start with the section “Basic Acrylic Painting Techniques.” “Layering and Blending,” “Dry Brush Technique,” and “Wet on Wet Technique” are the three sub-sections that you don’t want to miss, as they can help you improve your painting skills rapidly.

Layering and Blending

Layering and blending of acrylic paints are crucial to texture, depth, and colors in art. This involves applying multiple coats of paint to create different shades and hues. Here are three steps to do this:

  1. Start with a thin layer of paint on the canvas.
  2. Allow each layer to dry before adding the next. This builds up paint concentration.
  3. Dab or use feather-like strokes to blend layers. The wet-on-wet technique and glazing can help too.

Impasto techniques add texture. But work fast, as acrylics dry quickly. Too many layers can cause cracking.

Live Science says art boosts problem-solving and critical thinking. The dry brushing adds a rough edge.

Dry Brush Technique

Grab your brush and join the party! With the Dry Brush Technique, you can use a nearly dry brush to create texture and highlight details in your acrylic paintings. Here are six steps to get started:

  1. Load up the meeting with paint.
  2. Wipe off the excess onto a paper towel or cloth.
  3. Use short strokes to apply the paint to the canvas.
  4. Vary the pressure on the brush for different textures and patterns.
  5. Dab the brush lightly on a paper towel or cloth to remove any excess paint.
  6. Repeat until you get your desired effect.

This technique can be beautiful but use it sparingly. Too much of it can make your painting appear cluttered and overworked.

You can also use this technique to layer textures without waiting for each layer to dry. This is great for complex backgrounds or adding detail to foreground objects.

Fun fact: Acrylic paints were developed in the 1950s for automobile manufacturers. But, artists soon discovered its quick drying time and versatility. (Source:

Wet on Wet Technique

Ready to paint with acrylics? Use the ‘wet-on-wet’ technique to create vibrant, full-of-life artwork.

First, prep your canvas or surface—clean and dry it.

Then, apply a layer of water or medium to the area you want to paint.

Next, use a brush or palette knife to blend colors while still wet. Keep adding layers until you’re happy.

Be mindful not to overdo it – too much water or medium can cause paints to blend in an unwanted way, losing their unique character.

This technique creates gradient effects, softens edges, and lets you experiment with color combos.

For varied results, try out different brushes and thicknesses of paint. Start experimenting and get hands-on with texture!

Add Details and Texture

To enhance your acrylic painting on canvas with detailed textures, you can use two effective techniques: Creating Texture with Paint and Adding Details with Brushes. The former provides an innovative way to produce a tactile feel to your artwork. In contrast, the latter emphasizes fine brushes to give your painting a detailed and refined appearance.

Create Texture with Paint

Mix up shades of paint to create depth. Use brushes of different textures or thicknesses to draw with varying heights. Layer the color, allowing each one to dry before adding the next for a 3-D effect. Add texture with sponges, plastic wrap, or a palette knife. Try unexpected tools like toothbrushes and credit cards for unique patterns. Aim for organic and unpredictable marks. Incorporate other materials into your painting, such as sandpaper or objects that are easy to stick on. Remember to both create roughness and smooth it out. Did you know? Texture has been used in art styles throughout history – Jackson Pollock’s abstract expressionism pieces in the 1940s show this! Now it’s time to add texture to your work with a brush.

Add Details with Brushes

Breathe life into your artwork! Add intricate patterns with a wide selection of brushes. Get creative with pressure, color, and brush types to make each element pop. Try textured, blending, detail, and splatter brushes for custom looks. Increase the realism or create surrealism – unleash your imagination.

Don’t be mediocre. Stretch your creative limits and evoke emotion with unique effects. Use references and brainstorming sessions to tell a story and captivate. Become a master at adding details with digital brushes. The fear of missing out keeps you motivated! So, get your stylus and reach new heights with every canvas. Otherwise, your acrylic paintings will look like a kindergartener’s finger painting.

Care for Acrylic Paintings

To care for your acrylic painting on canvas easily, learn how to manage and maintain it properly. This involves knowing how to handle the drying and storing process and cleaning and maintenance once the artwork is complete. This section explores the solutions to these concerns in the sub-sections of Drying, Storing, Cleaning, and Maintaining.

Dry and Store

Are you preserving acrylic paintings for the long term? Here’s a quick guide!

To preserve acrylic paintings for the long term, follow these steps:

  1. Depending on thickness, it could take days to weeks to dry thoroughly.
  2. Choose a dry place with no sunlight or temperature/humidity fluctuations.
  3. Cover when transporting – use a clean sheet or cloth, not touching the surface.
  4. Varnish to protect from dust and color fading.

Additional tips:

  • Don’t stack paintings.
  • Acid-free matting for framing.
  • Always handle with clean hands or gloves.
  • Go for professional cleaning services.

Pro Tip: Never wrap in plastic – it traps moisture and can damage paint!

Clean and Maintainance

To keep your acrylic paintings looking their best, these tips are essential:

  1. Brush or wipe the dust away with a microfiber cloth. Don’t use water or cleaning solutions.
  2. If framing, use acid-free materials to avoid yellowing.
  3. Store in a dry, cool place away from sunlight.
  4. Wear clean gloves when handling.

Also, remember that some acrylic paints darken with age due to UV light – protect your artwork with UV-resistant varnish.

Pro Tip: Document your painting care for potential buyers or collectors.

Neglecting your acrylic artwork is like ignoring your ex – it’ll crack & peel!


Artists wanting to perfect acrylic painting on canvas should start with these steps. With this foundation, you can craft unique pieces.

  1. Set up your canvas and paint palette in the right light.
  2. Learn color theory to pick complementary colors.
  3. Invest in quality supplies and blend and layer for texture.
  4. Regular practice will help you develop your skills and style.

Create beautiful acrylic paintings with planning, patience, and precision. Remember, each artwork has its own story to tell. Recognize the importance of growth – creatively and technically – while keeping your individuality.

Tackling a new art form could be daunting. Don’t let it stop you from exploring something extraordinary through painting!

Frequently Asked Questions

What materials do I need for acrylic painting on canvas?

To start acrylic painting on canvas, you will need a canvas, acrylic paint, brushes, palette, water, and a surface to protect your workspace.

How to prepare the canvas for acrylic painting?

Before painting on canvas, prime the surface with gesso or white acrylic paint. This will help the paint adhere better to the canvas and prevent it from soaking in.

How to mix acrylic paint?

To mix acrylic paint, use a palette or mixing tray. Add some pigment to the palette and mix in water until you reach the desired consistency. You can also mix different colors to create new ones.

How to apply acrylic paint on canvas?

Start by sketching your design on the canvas using a pencil or charcoal. Begin painting with the background color, then add details and highlights once the paint has dried. To create texture, use different brush strokes or a palette knife.

How to clean acrylic paint brushes?

To clean acrylic paint brushes, rinse them in water until the water runs clear. Then, wash them with soap and water and reshape the bristles. It’s essential to clean your brushes after every use to prevent the paint from drying on them.

How long does it take for acrylic paint to dry on canvas?

The drying time for acrylic paint on canvas depends on the thickness of the color and the humidity in the room. Generally, it takes 20-30 minutes to touch dry and 24-48 hours to fully dry.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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