Jacquelynne Steves

How to paint a canvas with acrylic paints

I recently stumbled upon a fun project while spending wasting time on Facebook (hey- Facebook is actually good for something other than killing time!) There is an art center about an hour and 15 minutes from me. I saw that they were collecting painted canvases for an upcoming exhibit, auction and fundraiser. I thought that sounded fun! You don’t have to be a professional artist to join in- they welcome art from everyone!

Scatter Joy Art Center

(Yes, that is fabric that you see in the photo above. The founder of the Scatter Joy Center for the Arts is licensed artist Kathy Davis, who designs fabric, greeting cards, and many more beautiful products with her lovely watercolor paintings.)

If you live in the Horsham, PA area, you can just pick up a canvas there for free. I didn’t have time to drive up to pick up a canvas, so I simply purchased some at the local craft store for just a few dollars each. They need to be 6″ square, and 3/4″ deep:

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 11

Today, I am going to show you how I painted my canvases. First, I chose my palette. These are just acrylic paints from the craft store, which you can get for just a couple dollars per bottle:

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 1

When working with acrylics, I often use a gel medium. This does 2 things- it makes your paint stay wet for longer, and it makes the paint more transparent (acrylic paints tend to be opaque, unlike watercolors which are transparent.) There are several different mediums on the market. I use this can which I got from the hardware department! I’ve been using it for years, because a little goes a long way. I transfer some to a little jar, so I don’t have to dip my brush into the big can.

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 9

For the background of my canvas, I wanted the edges to be darker than the center. I coated the entire canvas with a good coat of the gel medium, and then squirted some paint onto the edges:

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 2

Then I used my big brush to move the paint around, concentrating the color on the outer edge of the canvas, and working a little bit toward the center. Don’t forget to paint the sides of the canvas as well…

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 3

So now I have a canvas that is covered with wet paint. But I’m impatient!! I want to draw in my design! Here’s a hint for working with acrylic or watercolor paints- you can use a hair dryer to dry the paint, so you can quickly move onto the next step!

I very lightly drew a design onto the canvas with pencil. It was so light, I could barely see it. But that’s OK- I just need to kind of see where I’m putting my design. I want my painting to be whimsical and kind of child-like, so I like the idea of kind of making this up as I go along…

I start painting in my design:

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 4

Add some more detail:

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 5

And before I know it, I have 2 canvases done:

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 6

Now these are cute, but the colors are a bit dull and flat. What we need to do is put a light, water-based varnish on the top:

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 7

The varnish really brings the colors to life and makes them “pop” (hopefully, you can see that in the photo):

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 8

Scatter Joy Squared- Jacquelynne Steves 10

And that’s it! My paintings are ready to be sent off to the art center. If you’d like to participate, you can get all the information here. The canvases are due on September 14, 2015, and you can mail them if you don’t live in the area. The event is on September 25. Remember- this is open to the public and EVERYONE is encouraged to make and send in a canvas. Maybe your kids would like to make a canvas for a good cause? What a wonderful and rewarding activity.

Have a BeautifulllyCreativeDayFeatherArt-JacquelynneSteves

6 Comments


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    Diane
    Posted September 9, 2015 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for all the great tips in the tutorial!


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      Jacquelynne
      Posted September 9, 2015 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your nice comment, Diane!!


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    CarolK
    Posted September 11, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Gosh, you make it look so easy. I’ll have to give it a go once I clear off the dining room table of all my scrapbooking stuff. I keep asking Santa for a crafting cottage out back but so far it’s falling on deaf ears. lol


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      Jacquelynne
      Posted September 13, 2015 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      Hmmmm- maybe you’re on the naughty list, Carol! LOL!!


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        CarolK
        Posted September 13, 2015 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

        Ought Oooooo! Never thought of that. hehehehe


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    Rose
    Posted April 21, 2016 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the tutorial. Great tips.

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