Can You Use Fabric Paint on Canvas? (How To Paint on Canvas)

Finding new fabrics to express your creative talent is not going to be that difficult. Fabric paint goes on a majority of fabrics if it is made for that specific material. The key to using fabric paint is having a little painting talent, a little patience, and the right colors.

Can you use fabric paint on canvas? When you get into the mood to paint the best canvas to use is canvas. It is a heavy-duty fabric that handles paint well. One of those paints you can use is fabric paint. But to have your picture come out in brilliant colors, you need to prime the canvas first before painting.

To learn more about using fabric paint on canvas just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know about before you dip your brush into the fabric paint you bought and put it to the fabric.

Can You Paint Canvas Fabric?


Yes, you can and this material is the fabric artists have been using for generations. The good aspect about using canvas is that you have 2 different fibers that create this material. If you do not like the one or cannot afford the other, then you have a backup option.

Canvas is made out of cotton or linen fibers. it is usually 1200% natural which means you do not have to worry about harmful chemicals or any chemical reactions when you apply your paint.

The main difference between the two fibers is that cotton is cheaper to purchase than linen canvas is. The latter is stronger and has a finer surface to paint on than cotton but both work well despite their differences.

There is a key to using both canvas styles is making sure you find the right tools to stretch the material taut. This step is important as it allows you to control your brushes better and the paint goes on more smoothly.

The next important step is to prime the canvas to protect it from degrading over time. This priming also helps your paint colors pop better. Priming can take place before or after you stretch the material tight.

What Kind of Paint do You Use On Canvas Fabric?

There are about 3 main types of paint you can use on canvas. These types are the traditional options that most painters have used over the years.

  • 1. Tempera - the more common name for this type of paint is finger paint. This is the same type that children use when they are doing finger painting in school. It is a non-toxic style of paint that is safe as well as being cheaper than the other types of paint you can use.

Plus, it is a water-based paint which means it should be easy to remove from clothing when you or your children wipe your hands on your pants or dress, etc. It is a favorite type of paint to use because the colors are generally very bright.

The only drawback is if the paint is too thick, it can crack when dry

  • 2. Acrylic paint - this is also a water-based paint known to be fast drying and it comes with a large degree of qualities. Some are very good while others not so good. The better acrylic qualities have brighter colors and are usually recommended for painting on canvas.

The good point about using acrylic paint is that it can be layered, thinned, and textured. The bad points include needing warmer temperatures to paint in and if the paint dries on your brush, it is hard to remove.

  • 3. Oil paint - one of the problems with using oil paint is that it can take years before it thoroughly dries. Plus, it can be toxic so you do not want to breathe any of the fumes in or swallow any paint.

The good points are that the colors are very vibrant and its texture is very smooth as well as being very blend-able. Plus, it can be thinned, layered, and textured as well as being long-lasting. You pay more for this type of paint but it is recommended for canvas and a very good option to use.

Can You Use Fabric Paint On Canvas?


Yes, it is possible to use fabric paint on canvas. The reason for that answer is that fabric paint is a modified acrylic type of paint. The acrylic paint has been given a new formula that helps it bind to the fabric without stiffening the latter.

That chemical formula also ensures that the acrylic paint bonds well with the canvas fibers. Once dry that bond resists cracking and has good flexibility so the clothing can be worn if you so choose.

Fabric paints come in a wide variety of colors and go on easily enough so you do not have to learn any special skills or techniques to create your artwork. No matter the canvas item you are painting on, remember the acrylic or fabric paint should dry fast.

That means you should be careful in how long you leave your brushes exposed to the surrounding air and temperatures. If the paint dries on your brush you may have to replace it.

Will Fabric Paint Work On Canvas?

There should be no problem in using fabric paint on canvas. But you should take the time to prime any canvas item you are going to paint. Primer is essential as it helps seal the fibers and make the canvas stiffer.

The primer is probably used more on regular painting canvas than clothing as you do not want your clothing items to be stiff. That makes moving a little difficult.

But when you are using a regular paint canvas priming is one of the most important steps you can take. The colors of the primer are usually black, gray, and white although other primary colors are often used.

The primer comes in a liquid form or in a spray can. That means you have a choice between spraying the canvas or using a paintbrush to prime it.

Chalk Paint On Canvas Fabric


It is possible to use chalk paint on canvas. The biggest drawback to using this style of paint is that canvas is a heavyweight fabric and you need to wet it completely before applying the chalk paint.

Once wet, the paint can go deeper into the fibers and helps it bind better. The result will not be a surface color like denim blue jeans but a beyond the surface color that should last for quite some time.

The key to using chalk paint on canvas or other fabrics is to let it dry and then cure. Do not be fooled by the dry to the touch feeling. Chalk paint needs to have all the moisture evaporated before it is set and ready for use.

It also needs to be in a milk-like consistency to provide the best results.

Does Acrylic Paint Work On Canvas Fabric?

Yes, it does and it is one of the recommended paints to use on canvas fabric. Not only do you get a rich color selection those colors can be very bright and attractive. The water-based nature of this paint makes it easy to clean up after as long as the paint remains wet.

Once acrylic dries it is usually permanent and very difficult to get rid of, especially when it dries in your paintbrushes. What makes acrylic ideal for painting on canvas is that it can be layered, textured, mixed, and thinned with water.

Those qualities make it an ideal paint to work with especially if you are a beginning painter. This paint does have some negative qualities that you should watch out for besides the drying issue. Low temperatures tend to crack the paint so you want to keep your room nice and warm.

How to Paint On Canvas Fabric


There is a process if you are painting on regular artistic canvas fabric. The first step is the decision making process. You need to choose the canvas fabric, either cotton or linen, your paint type, and what you want to paint along with the colors you will use.

Then you have to stretch the canvas tight and wood wedges are the best tools for this step. Once you have stretched the canvas you need to prime it. This can take some time as you have to put the primer on and then wait for it to dry.

The primer is needed to help the canvas material last as well as make your colors look good. The position and size of the canvas are up to you and the former should be in a place where you are most comfortable.

Also, you should sketch your design on the canvas to help guide your brushwork. Go slowly as painting is supposed to relieve stress not add to it. Finally, you should choose the right brushes to help you create your masterpiece.

Fabric Spray Paint On Canvas Shoes

This is an easy project to do and the first step is to make sure the shoes are clean and completely dry before adding the paint. Then cover the areas you do not want to be covered in paint with painter’s tape or masking tape.

When that is done, stuff newspaper inside the shoe to help them retain their shape and keep wrinkles and creases away. Remove the laces and other embellishments before you paint.

To paint, just follow the instructions on the can and keep the nozzle about 4 to 6 inches away from the shoes. Use old newspapers to cover the surface underneath your shoes to keep the paint from ruining it.

Use long even movements when spraying and if you are going to add layers wait for the previous one to dry before adding the next. Let dry when you are done.

How to Spray Paint Canvas Fabric


The key here is to choose the right kind of spray paint. You can use the one that comes in a can or you can use the version that needs a paint sprayer to put on the canvas material. The size of the canvas fabric may influence your decision on which one you will use.

Then like the shoes, you should make sure the canvas is nice and clean as well as completely dry. Moisture will mix with the paint and help it to run on you. Also, if you are painting a design, cover those areas with tape that you want to paint a different color.

If you are painting only one color this won’t be an issue. Use long smooth and even strokes as you paint. Plus, it may take several layers before you get the look and color you want. Be patient

Fabric Paint On Canvas Bags

This is a good option and you can make your plain fabric bags come alive by adding different colors and designs to the material. The process is like painting on other canvas materials. You can use brushes or spray paint although the latter is harder to control.

The key is to make sure you select the right colors and if you are doing a design sketch it on the canvas first so you can protect against mistakes. When you are done, let the canvas bag dry completely before taking it on your next outdoor excursion.

Tips to Paint On Canvas

After making your decisions on what you want to paint, where you want to paint it and the colors you want to use it pays to get some tips to help guide your painting effort. There are little things to watch out for and these tips should help you find them all and make sure your painting comes out perfect:

  • 1. Priming - it is important to prime the canvas. This step makes sure the material doesn't absorb your paint and ruin your picture. It also helps to protect the canvas from normal degrading.
  • 2. Painting the canvas white - you do not have to do this after priming and if you want the canvas white before you start you can buy them with this step and the priming step is already done for you.
  • 3. Position of the canvas - this is up to your preference and where you feel you do your best work. There is no right or wrong position to worry about and using an easel simply helps you get a better angle for painting.
  • 4. Size of the canvas - if you are in a hurry then you should go with a smaller canvas. Or if you are a beginner a smaller size is easier to handle and should be easier to set up and transport. But the size is totally dependent on you and what you want to paint and how large you want it to be.

Just remember that a bigger canvas requires a lot more time to paint on than the smaller one does.

  • 5. Sketch your design first - or you can do what is called underpainting to make sure you get the look you want. Both oil and acrylic paints are opaque in texture so underpainting won’t ruin your intended look.

Just use one color when doing this and when you are done you will find it easier to paint the real colors you want. Plus, it helps put your ideas on the canvas before you paint for real.

  • 6. The right brushes - you need to know the differences between each brush as they all have a specific purpose. The hair quality is important as well as the thin or thick nature of the brush hairs. learn those differences so you can apply your paint more precisely and in an attractive manner
  • 7. Adding a background - you can work either way with or without one but the latter may leave white spots that you need to find and cover-up. If those white spots are in dark colors they will stand out and ruin your painting.
  • 8. Painting technique - you can go from dark to light or in the reverse order. This too is up to your preference and depends on what type of paint you are using. Do some experimenting first to see which style of painting works best for you.

Some Final Words

Canvas is a good fabric to paint on no matter what style it comes in. It is a heavy-duty fabric that accepts paint quite well. One key is to make sure it is clean and primed properly before you start to paint.

The other key is to know what you want to paint and in what colors. Take your time as painting is not a stressful hobby even when painting your shoes. Also, you can explore your creative side a little bit to see which technique or painting style is right for you.

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