You can use watercolor on canvas board, a stretched watercolor canvas, or watercolor canvas pads, as long as you make sure that the label clearly states it is made for watercolor canvas art. You should also ensure that you are buying a high-quality canvas that is stable enough to paint on without the use of a canvas.
Normal canvas, even if it has been gessoed, is generally not absorbent enough to work well with watercolors. The watercolors would lift off too easily, which would make blending or overlaying colors particularly difficult.
In general, watercolour papers are made from one of two materials; cotton or wood pulp. 100% cotton papers are professional quality, and are considered to offer the very best painting surface. Cotton gives incomparable stability and ensures that you work will stand the test of time.
Priming for Watercolors on Standard Canvas
- Prepare the canvas as normal with at least two coats of gesso, allowing each to dry completely.
- Apply 5-6 thin coats (thin works best) of a watercolor ground like QoR Watercolor Ground or Golden Absorbent Ground, allowing each to dry completely.
If the question, can you use watercolor on canvas, has crossed your mind at some point, you can rest easy because the answer is a resounding yes! The only thing you need to consider is that the typical canvas is not absorbent at all, in fact, quite the opposite.
Traditionally watercolors are painted on watercolor paper. Watercolor paper is an absorbent support. Watercolor paints are a medium which depend on the paper to partially absorb and fix the paint to the surface and also the underlying paper fibers. Canvas, on the other hand, is more commonly used for oils or acrylics.
Because Cold-Press paper offers the best of both worlds, it's the paper of choice for many professional watercolor artists and it is the one I recommend beginners look for.
Totally fine for begginers as watercolor painting needs minimum 190 GSM paper.
Watercolor over Gesso will settle into the brushstrokes of the Gesso and really enhance the texture. WARNING Gesso is an acrylic based paint and once dry cannot be removed from your brushes. It is also very abrasive so a few old bristle brushes are best kept for Gesso.
If you're going to watercolor, it is essential that you use actual watercolor paper. Below is a comparison of a watercolor wash on regular copy paper, and another on watercolor paper with the same paint mix. The copy paper isn't made in the same way as watercolor paper and results in a buckled, wavy wash.
When the painting when is finished, seal it with a spray varnish to make the painting waterproof. You may need to do more than one coat to make it fully waterproof. You can then hang the painting as-is or frame it under glass.
Watercolor and acrylic can be used in tandem to create dimensional works of art. You can create a fluid, colorful background in watercolor, and then use opaque acrylic to paint forms that pop on top of the watercolor.
What is gesso? Gesso, pronounced 'jesso', was traditionally used to prepare or prime a surface so Oil paint would adhere to it. Gesso is the same as a primer, as in 'pre-primed canvas'. It is made from a combination of paint pigment, chalk and binder.
Watercolor mediums and additives are liquids or gels that you can add to watercolor paint to make it glossy, more transparent, textured, pearlescent and more. Their use in watercolor painting isn't as common as other media like acrylics and oils, but they can be useful for certain techniques.
Your watercolor could be cracking because of shrinkage, the use of low-quality or inexpensive watercolor brands, the high water content in tube brands, the use of poor-quality ingredients, unfavorably hot climate, or poor storage.
Two of the most commonly used paints for canvas art are oil and acrylic paint. Acrylic comes in as an all-time favourite with its favourable qualities; it's easy to work with and dries quickly. Oil paint is another winner with its thick, gluey consistency it is the perfect paint recipe paired beautifully with canvas.
Canvas, Paper, Cardboard, Wood, Polymer Clay, Air-dry Clay, Stone, and Plaster are all suitable surfaces for acrylic paint. Fabric, Metal, Glass, and Plastic can also be painted with it, but their surfaces must first be prepared, then painted, and then sealed.
If the watercolor is on paper spraying two even coats of the aerosol Archival Varnish (Gloss) is usually enough to seal and adhere the pigments to the paper. If the watercolor painting is on Absorbent Ground, then three even coats of Archival Varnish (Gloss) are generally required to prevent bleeding or streaking.
Fabriano is not as widespread as CANSON, ARCHES or ARTEZA, yet it is known for the more budget-friendly and good quality paper. It is a very good choice to go with when you are not sure which paper to start off with for watercolors, gouaches, and even acrylics.
You can make your acrylic colors behave like watercolors, simply by thinning with a professional medium. Our Soft Body Acrylics and Acrylic Inks have a fluid consistency that build like traditional watercolors and due to the permanent nature of acrylics, you can build them without dissolving the layers.
In general, if you want the background color to show through and become part of the subject, then paint the wash first. If you want to keep your background and your subject clearly and distinctly separate, then be sure to use masking fluid to mask your subject before painting your wash.