As an artist, finding the right paint for canvas painting is crucial to creating the perfect masterpiece but you may be wondering what is the best paint to use for canvas painting. After experimenting with a variety of paints over many years, I’ve found two types of paints that are the best paint for canvas painting: oil paint and acrylic paint.
Oil paints have been used for as long as anyone can remember and proof of their longevity exists in all the major museums around the world. Oil paints on canvas just work.
While acrylic paint is fairly new compared to oil paints, it was developed in the 20th century, it too has qualities that make it a go-to medium for artists.
Acrylic Paint on Canvas
Acrylic paint is my all-time favorite because of its favorable qualities. Not only is it easy to work with, but it also dries quickly. This is great for artists who are impatient and want to see their work come to life as soon as possible. Acrylic paint is also versatile and can be used on a variety of surfaces, including canvas. Its water-based formula means that it can be easily cleaned up with soap and water, which is a huge plus.
One of the things that I love most about acrylic paint is that it can be layered to create texture and depth. By building up multiple layers of paint, you can create a three-dimensional effect that really makes your artwork pop. Acrylic paint is also known for its vibrant colors, which can add a burst of life to any painting.
Also, consider who is going to be painting on canvas because the best paint for canvas painting will be different for a child compared to an adult or experience artist. For anyone new to painting or for a child, I would recommend acrylic paints due to the low toxicity of the medium, its relative stability in quality, it can be readily purchased anywhere, and finally, it’s easy to clean up when (not if) you make a mess.
For more experienced artists I would recommend oil paints as the best paint for canvas painting so let’s explore oil paints a little.
Oil Paint on Canvas
While acrylic paint is a fantastic option for canvas painting, oil paint is also a winner. Oil paint has a thick, gluey consistency that pairs beautifully with canvas. It’s a great option for artists who prefer a slower drying time, as it takes much longer to dry than acrylic paint. This allows for more time to work on the painting and make adjustments as needed.
One of the things that I love most about oil paint is its ability to blend smoothly. The thick consistency of oil paint allows it to blend seamlessly, which is great for creating realistic paintings. It’s also a great option for creating a more subdued color palette, as oil paints tend to have a more muted tone.
While oil paint may take longer to dry than acrylic paint, it’s important to note that it does have some downsides. For one, oil paint can be a bit more difficult to work with than acrylic paint. It requires the use of solvents to clean up, which can be harmful to the environment and your health. Additionally, oil paint tends to yellow over time, which can be frustrating if you’re trying to create a long-lasting piece of artwork.
When it comes to choosing the best paint for canvas painting, it ultimately comes down to personal preference. Both oil and acrylic paint have their own unique qualities that make them great options for canvas art. If you’re looking for a paint that is easy to work with and dries quickly, then acrylic paint is the way to go. If you prefer a slower drying time and the ability to blend smoothly, then oil paint is the better choice.
There are a few other factors to consider when choosing a paint for canvas painting. For one, the type of canvas that you’re using can impact the final result. For example, if you’re using a high-quality, primed canvas, then both oil and acrylic paint will work well. If you’re using a raw unprimed canvas, then you may want to choose acrylic paint, as it will adhere better to the canvas. I have covered this topic in a bit more detail here.
Another factor to consider is the intended purpose of your artwork. If you’re creating a piece that will be displayed in a museum or gallery, then you may want to choose oil paint, as it tends to have a more timeless quality dare I say oil paint looks more professional and my oil paintings always sell for much more than my acrylic paintings. However, if you’re creating a piece that will be sold commercially or displayed in a more casual setting, then acrylic paint may be the better choice.
Tips and Tricks for Using Canvas
When it comes to canvas painting, there are a few tips and tricks that can help you get the most out of your chosen paint.
First and foremost, it’s important to prime your canvas before painting. Priming your canvas not only helps to create a smooth surface for your paint to adhere to, but it also helps to prevent the paint from seeping through the canvas. There are a variety of primers available, including gesso and acrylic primers. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when priming your canvas.
Another important tip is to work in layers. Whether you’re using oil or acrylic paint, building up layers is key to creating a realistic and dynamic painting. By starting with a base layer and adding subsequent layers on top, you can create depth and texture that really bring your painting to life.
If you’re using acrylic paint, it’s important to keep your brushes and palette moist. Acrylic paint dries quickly, which means that your brushes and palette can dry out just as fast. To prevent this, try spritzing your brushes and palette with water every so often to keep them moist.
If you’re using oil paint, it’s important to use the right type of brush. Oil paint requires stiffer brushes than acrylic paint, as the thick consistency of oil paint can quickly wear down softer brushes. Look for brushes that are specifically designed for oil painting and that have stiff bristles.
Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment with different techniques and styles. Canvas painting is all about expression and creativity, so don’t be afraid to try out new techniques and styles to find your own unique voice as an artist. And remember, practice makes perfect – the more you paint, the better you’ll get.
What Are The Best Brushes for Oil Paint and Acrylic Paint On Canvas
Choosing the right brush for oil and acrylic painting on canvas is just as important as choosing the right paint. The type of brush you use can greatly impact the final result of your painting. Here are some of the best brushes for oil paint and acrylic paint on canvas.
For oil painting, it’s important to use brushes with stiffer bristles that can handle the thick consistency of oil paint. Hog hair brushes are a popular choice for oil painting, as they are sturdy and have natural bristles that hold their shape well. They are also relatively affordable, making them a great option for beginner artists.
Another great brush option for oil painting is a bristle brush. These brushes are made with stiffer synthetic bristles and are designed to mimic the natural bristles of hog hair brushes. They are great for creating texture and blending in oil paint.
Now, hog hair and bristle brushes are the official line, but if you look at the brushes I use for oil painting they are all sable or a synthetic version of sable because I find hog hair too stiff for my style of painting which requires finer brushwork.
Sable brushes have finer, softer bristles that are perfect for creating fine lines and details in your painting.
When it comes to acrylic painting, there are a few different brush options that work well. Synthetic brushes, such as nylon or polyester brushes, are a popular choice for acrylic painting. They are durable, easy to clean, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
For larger areas of your painting, a flat brush is a great choice for acrylic painting. These brushes have a flat, rectangular shape that allows you to cover a larger surface area quickly and efficiently. They are also great for creating straight lines and edges in your painting.
Another great brush option for acrylic painting is a round brush. These brushes have a pointed tip and can be used for a variety of painting techniques, including creating fine lines, filling in small areas, and blending colors.
When it comes to choosing the best brush for oil or acrylic painting on canvas, it ultimately comes down to personal preference and the specific needs of your painting. It’s important to experiment with different types of brushes to find the ones that work best for you and your style of painting. And remember, taking care of your brushes by cleaning them properly after each use can help to extend their lifespan and ensure that they continue to perform at their best.
What I do with brushes is constantly buy sets of various size brushes, from hog to sable to synthetics and leave them in my toolbox. I am constantly using different brushes and they are never wasted. I also do not get to hung up on brands either.
What Paint Should Not Be Used On Canvas?
While canvas is a versatile surface that can be used with a wide range of painting mediums, technically there are some types of paint that should not be used on canvas. Even though watercolor paints will stick and enamel paint will also work, there are technical reasons why these and others listed below should not be used on canvas. Here are a few types of paint that are not recommended for use on canvas:
Tempera paint: Can you use tempera paint on canvas? Tempera paint is a paint that has its pigments bound in an emulsion, such as water and egg yolk, or an oil based emulsion where oil and a whole egg are mixed (I like to call it mayo paint as mayo is oil and egg). While tempera may be easy to work with, it is not recommended for use on canvas as it is not very durable and tends to crack and peel over time.
Watercolor paint: Watercolor paint is another water-based paint that is not recommended for use on canvas. While it can be used on watercolor paper, it tends to bleed and run on canvas as the canvas fibers will soak up and spread all the water which can lead to a less-than-desirable end result.
Spray paint: While spray paint may be a convenient option for creating large, bold works of art, it is not recommended for use on canvas. Spray paint can be difficult to control, which can lead to drips and uneven coverage on canvas. Additionally, the fumes from spray paint can be harmful to your health if proper ventilation is not provided.
Gouache paint: Gouache paint is a water-based paint that is similar to watercolor paint, but with added chalk or white pigment to create an opaque finish. While it may be a great option for paper, it is not recommended for use on canvas as it tends to crack and peel over time. Not only that, it is not a cheap paint and you will need to use quite a lot to cover even a small canvas.
Enamel paint: Enamel paint is a type of oil-based paint that is typically used for painting metal, wood, and other surfaces. While it may be durable, it is not recommended for use on canvas as it tends to crack and peel over time, especially if it is applied in thick layers.
In general, it’s best to stick with paint mediums that are specifically designed for use on canvas, such as oil paint, acrylic paint, and some types of watercolor paint. By using the right type of paint, you can ensure that your artwork will look great and last for years to come.
The Best Paint For Canvas Painting – Wrap up!
When it comes to canvas painting, there is no one “best” paint, not even the best brand. It all depends on your personal preference and the specific needs of your artwork. If you’re just starting out, I would recommend experimenting with both oil and acrylic paint to see which one you prefer. And don’t be afraid to mix the two.
If you are young or do not have much money to see if painting is your thing and you just want to give it a try then start with a cheap set of acrylic paints and brushes and a few canvas boards. Keep it simple. Many artists use a combination of oil and acrylic paints to create dynamic, vibrant works of art, I have done it many times as well.
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Joseph Colella is a frustrated artist with over 40 years experience making art (who moonlights as a certified Business Analyst with over 20 years of experience in tech). While he holds a Diploma in Information Technology, in true wasted talent style he spent years trying to get into various Art degrees from the Accademia di Belle Arti (Napoli), and failed to get into the Bachelor of Arts (Fine Arts) at the University of Western Sydney. His goal is to attend the Julian Ashton School of Art at The Rocks Sydney when he retires from full time work. In his spare time, he writes for the this blog, WastedTalentInc, where he shares practical advice on art, making art, and art materials. Joseph’s art has been sold to collectors all over the world from the USA, Europe and Australasia. He is a trusted source for reliable art and copyright/fair use advice and is committed to helping his readers make informed decisions about making them a better artist.
He also loves all things watches (ok it’s an addiction) so show him some love and visit his other website https://expertdivewatch.com