Canvas Painting for Beginners
Canvas painting for beginners – all the basics you need to know to get started creating. From supplies to the environment to inspiration – this article will cover a bit of everything.
This article goes over the supplies you need, where to find them, the best work environment, and a way to transfer your ideas from your mind to your canvas.
What Supplies Do I Need for Canvas Painting?
Before you start, you’ll need to make sure you have all the proper supplies. It’s not as simple as ‘canvas and paint’.
Canvas Painting for Beginners requires acquiring the following:
Canvas – You’ll need a canvas of the appropriate size. There are several sizes, and you’ll want one you feel suits your project, and isn’t too big or small for your comfort.
Easel – You’ll need an easel you can shift and arrange for your comfort. It should be at a comfortable height and allow you to arrange your canvas the way you want it.
Paintbrushes – You’ll want a large selection of paintbrushes. You want to have plenty of options to work with, especially starting out.
Paints – At the very minimum, you should have the basic color spectrum with red, yellow, blue, black, and white. You may want to pick up more colors if you want easily reproducible hues, or don’t want to spend a lot of time mixing your own colors.
Gesso – Gesso is recommended for priming the canvas. A layer at the beginning makes the surface easier to work with.
Artist’s Palette – A must for arranging the colors you want to use in your work. Also, a great place to explore different color mixes to find just the right shade.
Palette Knife – This can be used in some painting techniques, or in mixing colors. However, it can also be used to remove accidental splatters,
Cups for Water – You’ll need a cup of room-temperature water to clean your brushes as you use them.
Rags or Paper Towels – Rags or paper towels are essential for removing water and excess paint from your brushes, as well as your hands.
Apron – An apron is optional, but if you don’t have one, you’ll want to make sure you wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy.
Paint Thinner – Sometimes, paint can be stubborn. To get brushes and hands fully clean at the end of the day, you may need small quantities of paint thinner.
What Specific Types of Supplies Do I Need?
Seasoned painters recommend certain materials and supplies over others when it comes to painting as a beginner.
What’s The Best Canvas Option?
There are three major types of canvas: Cotton, Linen, and Canvas Board.
While Linen is the most durable of the three, it’s also the most expensive.
Most experts recommend starting with cotton canvas, or canvas board, as these are cheaper and good for practicing.
What’s The Best Type of Easel?
It depends on where you plan to paint, and how you plan to paint. Different positions and environments may work better with different easels.
The key is to get an easel you feel comfortable with. For beginners, you can get a simple tripod easel, or you can spring for something that’s more adjustable.
What Kind of Paintbrushes Do I Need?
You’ll probably want to experiment with a large range of sizes and types, but for a basic beginner’s kit, experienced artists recommend the following:
Flat Brushes – With long bristles and a square shape, these make distinctive, solid strokes.
Rounded Brushes – Round bristles with pointed or blunt tips, good for detail work
Filbert Brushes – Long, flat brushes with rounded tips, well-liked for their versatility
Bright Brushes – Short, square brushes used for smaller, controlled strokes
Fan Brushes – Shaped as the name implies, and good for blending edges or creating interesting textures
Rigger Brushes – Long, extremely thin brushes, good for fine details, or lettering.
You can also experiment with angled brushes and stiff versus softer bristles.
What Kind of Paint Should I Start With?
Most experienced painters recommend starting with acrylics.
They dry quickly, unlike many watercolors, and don’t require special solvents or long intervals like oil paints.
What About Other Supplies?
With gesso and other supplies, it’s a matter of finding the things that work best for you.
Gesso can come in several different consistencies, so you may need to experiment to find the one that you prefer.
With things like the palette and palette knife, it’s important to get things that feel comfortable in your hands.
Where Do I Find All These Supplies?
Some of them, like paint, brushes, and canvas, can be found in any craft area, including the craft section at a Walmart or Target, or online at Amazon or other art supply stores such as Blick or Utrecht.
For other items, you may need to look at a craft store or even a specialized art store. If necessary, you can even buy them online.
What’s The Best Set-Up For Me To Use?
You’ll need plenty of light, and a stable surface for your easel. The temperature should ideally be between 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
Paint on a mostly flat area
Choose a sunny day with little to no wind.
Pick a day with low-to-medium humidity.
Choose a room that has plenty of light. Natural light or otherwise is up to you, but you should be able to see comfortably.
Choose a room with proper ventilation. Even the best paints give off fumes.
Give yourself plenty of room to work and arrange your supplies comfortably.
Setting Up Supplies:
1. The first thing to do is attach your canvas to your easel and make sure it is secure. Easels come with many methods to secure your canvas, from clips to adjustable tabs to adjustable ‘plugs’.
2. Lay out your tools. Palette, paints, brushes, etc. They should all be where you can find and reach them easily. Many artists have a small table to one side for this purpose.
3. Make sure you have your water and your cleaning supplies.
4. Make sure you have everything you need to be comfortable while you work. This includes food, water, chair, lighting, and additional ventilation if needed.
What Should I Paint as a Beginner?
Many artists recommend starting with still lifes, or abstracts. These are considered simpler, due to the fact that abstracts allow a sort of ‘free form’ work, and you can set up a model of a still life subject.
On the other hand, many other artists advise starting with simple landscapes. This can help you work with perspectives, foreground and background.
The Biggest Recommendation: Choose something that inspires you. Ideally, something you can also keep a reference for, to keep track of what you’re doing.
There are many artist’s tutorials out there – Bob Ross being only one – so feel free to search for one that’s right for you.
Experiment! Play Around! There is no real ‘right’ answer to this question.
How Should I Start?
- Start by making sure your canvas is secure. You don’t want it escaping while you’re trying to work.
- The second step should be applying a layer of acrylic gesso to prime the canvas. If you purchase already-primed canvas, you can skip this step.
- Add a background layer of color. What color will depend on what you’re planning to paint.
- Light colors will enhance the brightness of your work, while darker colors will add depth.
- A painting with a lot of sky might benefit from a blue background. Or, if it’s a night scene, from a dark grey or black.
Should I Sketch Out My Painting, or Just Start?
This is a matter of personal preference. Many artists find it easier to work with a background sketch guiding their strokes.
Other artists prefer to work without the background image, to give themselves a little more freedom to work.
You should probably try it both ways, to see which works best for you.
Is There Anything Else I Need to Know About Canvas Painting for Beginners?
Like any other form of art, it takes time, practice, and experimentation. Don’t be discouraged if something doesn’t turn out exactly the way you expected!
There’s a whole wide range of artistic possibilities once you pick up the brush, so feel free to try all sorts of different ideas