View Full Version : Newbie canvas questions

08-30-2004, 11:28 AM
I was playing around with painting before but the past few months I have been takin it more seriously (but having lots of fun mind you).
My thing is... I go to the craft store and get canvas and I have tons of Liqutex paint now. I just sit down with my tabletop easel someone gave me and go nuts. I am painting lots of ocean scenes and palm trees and loving it. Question is... Do I need to prep my canvas in any way and are these types any good?
Dilemma: My paintings look dull like I need to spray them with a gloss sealer. Is that a bad move?
I mostly use the acrylic is a wash/ inky like texture. I truly appreciate any and all input. I tried to post a pic. but it says it is too large to post and I don't know how to resize it.
Thanks! BB

08-30-2004, 12:21 PM
You only need to prep your canvas if it is not pre-primed or if you want to change the effect of your painting. Are you working on a canvas board or a stretched canvas? Check the label of your canvas to see if it is pre-primed. If it's not pre-primed (although I would suggest getting them that way), you can prime it with acrylic gesso. Most of my canvases are pre-primed, so I don't know much about priming. You should get some more information on priming from others, or just buy them pre-primed. I don't think canvas is a good surface for "washes and inky" type painting. Watercolor paper is probably the better way to go. If you decide, though, to use the paint thicker, canvas is the better way to go. When you say "gloss sealer" do you mean a type of varnish? If so, theres nothing wrong with that, just wait until it is completly dry (I wait about 3-5 days before varnishing). Check the new user forum for information about resizing your pictures, and if you can't find an answer, post your questions there because you'll have a better chance at getting feedback.


08-30-2004, 12:27 PM
If you are using commercial stretched canvas or canvas sheets such as Fredrix canvas pad, you do not need to prepare them - they already have a layer of gesso. If you are not sure, just check out the back of the canvas - you will see that the back has a rougher, less white appearance if the front has been gessoed.

A gloss finish coat should help the dullness problem. Are you using high viscosity tube paints or low viscosity bottles? The lower viscosity paints will retain better color intensity when you thin it to wash/ink texture.

Also, using only water to thin and/or using a lot of white to lighten your colors might contribute to the dullness. See if adding a few drops of gloss medium and less water/white helps.


Lady Carol
08-30-2004, 12:50 PM
That is one of the problems with acrylics. They dry dull. I finish mine with a coat of glazing medium that enriches the colour and then 2 coats of varnish.

Store bought canvases can be used as it, but I like to get rid of much of the tooth out of the canvas so I apply several coats of gessoe. But that is my personal preference.

08-30-2004, 02:00 PM
Not much experience myself but, I would assume that the inky low viscosity paints you speak of are probably not very bright anyway since they have less pigment. There is certainly nothing wrong with using varnish on canvas though wheather it is streached or a panel.

08-30-2004, 02:09 PM
Thank you sooo much. What is the difference between low and high viscosity? What does viscosity mean?
Also, can I just buy a can of clear gloss sealer or is there a particular brand of sealer or kind that is used for painting on canvas? Thanks again!!

08-30-2004, 03:11 PM
Viscosity is the resistance of a medium to flow freely. You can buy high viscosity paints and thin it down with water without losing the pigment. Viscosity in art mediums is how much pigment is in a paint. If you buy school grade paints then your viscosity is going to be much less than that of a professional paint.

One thing I learned in college is that you can use acrylic house paint to gesso your canvas and get the same results as the higher priced gesso. It also holds up well according to my prof who had been using it some 40 years. I always give extra coats of gesso to my canvases whether I have stretched them myself or not, giving a smoother surface to work on.

I tend to lean more towards a spray varnish rather than that in a can that you paint on. I don't like the lines the brush leaves when painting on the varnish. It is really a personal preference.

08-30-2004, 04:25 PM
I can recommend a product for washes and "inky" type painting on canvas: Golden's Absorbant Ground. You would want to gesso the canvas first (as several above have mentioned) and then apply the ground over the gesso. Here is a link to information on the product: http://www.goldenpaints.com/technicaldata/absorb.php

Good Luck...