Can You Use Watercolor On A Normal Canvas?

Can You Use Watercolor On A Normal Canvas?

Can You Use Watercolor On A Normal Canvas?


Watercolour painters always search for new facets on which they could bring it to life by spreading different colours. Canvas has its own charm if it is painted with watercolors, whereas watercolor papers are readily available.


A question which is asked by many painters is, "Can you use watercolor on canvas?" “Yes" is an answer . But it is not that easy than one can think. Some things must be kept in mind if you want to use canvas for watercolour paintings.


In this article, you will learn and practice everything that you need to know about using watercolor on canvas.


Watercolors don't work on standard canvas, which is used for oils, and acrylic paints, so watercolor canvas was introduced. Many people now prefer to use canvas alternatives to traditional watercolor paper.


If you are choosing watercolor on canvas rather than paper, Some of the things you must ponder upon and have them in your knowledge. However, you learn and progress with experiences with time. But the outcome and experience make painters happy and satisfied.


Various Types of Watercolor Canvas

     Maybe you will be very much familiar with canvas, and you love its texture and appearance. Still, you want to try watercolors on it, or you are anxious about whether canvas can be an excellent alternative to papers?


So what options do you have? There are many different ways by which canvas is advantageous for you in case watercolors are used.


● ​Use a watercolor canvas which is ready-to-paint


● ​Prime a standard canvas with Watercolor ground and Gesso


Ready-Made Canvases For Watercolors

       Such canvases are the brand new creation and readily available in the market. These canvases are covered with a coating of Gesso due to which you can easily paint with watercolors. These include:


● ​Pre-stretched canvas


● ​Canvas boards


● ​Canvas pads


These canvases are smooth standard fabric with excellent quality and texture that make it easier for watercolors to apply. If you're hired and fixed for the working on watercolor paper, then you may be wondered.


To give life to your canvas, you must know about the techniques needed to settle scores on canvas using watercolors, especially when you are using it for the first time.


The Properties of Watercolor Canvas


● Firstly, you will notice that paint remains on the surface for a more extended period. In this way, you can paint watercolors as much as you want. This is because the canvas is not absorbent as the watercolour papers are.


● Secondly, Canvas can lift dry watercolors. It is more capable of lifting off than paper, even when the paint is completely dry.


The lifting of watercolor technique is to remove some of the paint from the surface. You can sweep it with a small amount of clear water with brush, sponge, or tissue. Rub the surface of the paint gently, and some of the pigment will be removed.


These canvases are so impressive that they offer a quicker solution as compared to preparing your canvas.


How Can A Canvas Be Prepared For Watercolor?

        It is imperative to prepare your canvas before starting water coloring on canvas to make the facet of the canvas more absorbent. Artists usually apply several layers of "watercolor gesso" or "watercolor ground" to prepare for painting with watercolors.


Gesso Must Be In Your Studio

     You must have Gesso near you while painting on canvas whatever the medium you are using like oil, acrylic, and even watercolors.


Now the question is why Gesso is so crucial for artists?

  Firstly as it coats the canvas that your watercolor must stay on it and fix it to its ground when applied, without a proper layering of Gesso, your painting can be destroyed. Your hard work will all go in vain if you were to paint with oils or acrylic on untreated canvas.




A Watercolor Ground Is Necessary If You Want To Use Watercolors on Canvas

       The watercolour ground is vital for using your watercolours on any surface. At the same time, it is still a dubious product in the world of arts. While using watercolors on woods, the same formula will be applicable if you have an experience on watercolor canvas.


There are some properties of Gesso which are rigid to the canvas. It prevents an extra absorption of your paint. So, Absorption, as well as texture properties both, are marvelous in the case of the watercolor ground. To get the same results on canvas as of white paper, you must treat the canvas with Gesso and apply a few layers of watercolor ground. This will give a fantastic outcome, which will be a very familiar surface. You will learn and experience something new as well, which you will love to do so.


This is not enough with watercolor grounds, so here it goes how it is a kicker, We don't need to get too off-topic as we are only covering watercolors and canvas, The thing is if you want to try your next watercolor painting on metal or glass, these watercolor grounds also work well on those surfaces.


How To Prep A Canvas For Watercolor Paints

      You've got to know much about Gesso and watercolor ground now. You must have some knowledge about how to prep a canvas properly. So, here's what must be on one's fingertip:


● Stretched Canvas


● Gesso


● Watercolor Ground


● Wide Paintbrush


Required Steps


  1. Coat your stretched canvas with a gesso via a cheap wide paintbrush that is readily available at a hardware store.

  2. If you apply the double coating, it will be more than enough to provide a base for your watercolor ground.

  3. After the second layer of Gesso has been dried up, you can now apply a watercolor ground layer. Always remember, when it comes to using watercolor grounds, you will apply several coats.

  4. Some artists may recommend applying ten total layers, but five layers are more than enough for achieving excellent results.

  5. When you are layering your watercolor ground, you will wait until the layer has dried up before you apply an additional layer, as in the case of Gesso.


Optional: Some artists also use fine-grit sandpaper to their finished watercolor ground application, whatever texture you are preferring. It will give you an additional texture to your surface and serve as an extra dimension to the final piece.


The Properties of Watercolor Ground On Canvas

        The properties of canvas primed with the watercolor ground are very similar to the ready-made watercolor canvas. The flow of pigment is moved around on the surface and remains wet for longer.


You can play with watercolors more than watercolor paper. If you want to go back to lighter tones, you can easily do it by scrubbing the canvas with a damp brush, so the sounds are easily adjusted. Glazing will be delicate once the paint is lifted off.


One thing is more often tricky when observed. The edges bleed with the absorbent ground as it seems to tend to bloom when laying fresh washes.


The watercolor ground treats you as an icing on the cake if you use watercolor work every day. You can make corrections of your mistakes while painting; otherwise, it will be challenging to do on watercolor paper. A thin layer gives you the same touch as paper to repaint or correct your flaws in your work.


The Advantages of Watercolour Canvas

       There are some significant advantages to using watercolor canvas:


● The canvas is quite durable and reliable. It is complicated to tear away, so it would be easy for you to sketch and make your painting with watercolors on canvas quickly. If you suddenly plan to make some changes in your painting, you can brush off your painting and replace it with a new one without damaging the surface. This is the plus point of Canvas, which is not possible in the white paper.


● Watercolour Canvas doesn't dry up earlier, so you can easily make changes and give another life to your painting.


● Canvas can be more easily displayed than watercolor paintings on paper. No frame is needed if the painting is adequately sprayed, and you can hang it directly on the wall.


● Watercolor canvases are durable enough for harsher treatment than paper.


The Disadvantages of Watercolor Canvas

     Whatever medium you are choosing, painting on canvas is quite different. Painters must also be ready as the watercolor paints throw their own set of challenges. Watercolor artists need to cope up with several problems readily:


● If you scrub the previous watercolor paint only then, you can move to paint around the canvas.


Solution: This problem can be easily solved by using a transparent acrylic medium and let it dry completely.


● Watercolour paints don't absorb quickly.


Solution:: Before applying your watercolors, test your paints and use less water than you use on paper.


● The paint does not fix to the canvas, even if you use an acrylic medium that has been sprayed on it.


Solution: It's a huge problem that requires so much testing.


● Canvas is not a sound-absorbent as paper, so watercolor needs to be absorbed into the surface.


Solution: For this purpose, Special coating is applied on canvas designed for this purpose.


Tidbits When Using Watercolors On Canvas

       The quality of the canvas goes down when you apply the layers of Gesso and watercolor grounds. Woven piece of canvas attracts most of the artists as it gives more texture, and you get an extraordinary outcome. But when you apply the number of thick layers of Gesso and watercolor grounds, the surface of canvas tarnishes its glow, and the attractive look fades away.

Your course of action is determined, which depends on the effect desired. Applying one thin layer of Gesso and a thin layer of watercolors ground will retain and keep up the imperative classic canvas look on the surface.


The Best Option-Canvas Watercolor Boards

       If you do not have the spirit of DIY nature that many artists like to take on and want to test your watercolor painting on canvas without applying several layers on Gesso and watercolor ground, these watercolor panels are the best options.

These canvas boards have been prepared specially from a primer that will go well and give you a different experience with your watercolors. And yes!! If you get the best outcomes, then you can hang the canvas board in your studio, room, or your next gallery event as they work without frames as well.


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