Painting and drawing can be fun arts and crafts projects. Learn how to paint on canvas with this easy process that anyone can try.
There are different types of paints, but the most popular to use on canvas are acrylics. Acrylic paints are ideal for beginners because of their thick consistency and fast-drying qualities. Oil paints are also an alternative choice as you can work with multiple layers of paint. However, it’s best to introduce canvas painting for kids with easy acrylic painting ideas since this medium can let them explore various textures, depths, hues, highlights, and color blends.
Of course, when it comes to canvas art, it also pays to be familiar with the different types of canvases you can use. Some of the most common include:
- Stretched canvases: These are mostly made of cotton and are stretched over a wooden frame. They also come in different sizes and thickness and are primed with gesso for acrylic and oil painting. Primers like gesso allow the cotton canvas to absorb the paints better.
- Canvas panels: Canvas panels offer a less costly alternative to stretched canvases. They are lightweight, easy to carry, and are great for practicing easy canvas painting ideas.
- Canvas pads: These are primed sheets of canvas bound in spiral notebooks. They can be stretched or mounted, but don’t last as long as stretched canvases. Similar to canvas panels, canvas pads are more suitable for practice or novice painters like kids.
- Canvas rolls: More experienced painters or those who want to work with large areas can get canvas rolls. They’re usually made of linen or cotton, and are sold by the yard.
Now that you’re familiar with some of the art supplies needed for easy canvas paintings, you can get started with canvas painting for kids! Aside from an acrylic paint set and the right canvas, don’t forget to have a good and sturdy paintbrush. You can even use several types such as a round brush, flat brushes, fine brushes, ink brushes, etc. A palette knife is mostly used to mix paint, but they also have an interesting effect when used for canvas painting.
Keep in mind that watercolors aren’t generally used for canvases. This is because canvas fabric like cotton or linen won’t absorb the watercolors properly even if they’re primed.
Once you’re ready, here’s a step-by-step painting guide that you can follow when working with your first canvas.
Since it will be your first time to paint, it’s always good to have a reference photo by your side. In fact, even experienced painters use photos to inspire their paint ideas or help them pick the right colors. Your photo doesn’t have to be anything elaborate or fancy. For easy paintings, it’s best to start with simple concepts like waves or dots. You can also choose photos of simple objects such as a sunflower, the moon, a bowl of fruits, some leaves, etc.
You can also try your hand at landscapes. Landscape painting isn’t as intimidating as most people think since they’re also composed of simple shapes and a combination of different colors when broken down into their most basic concepts. Some easy painting ideas for these are night sky, galaxy, or sunset paintings.
Eventually, you might also want to explore abstract art. What’s great about abstract painting is that you can be as creative as you like. One concept you can start with is abstract flower painting. You might not even need a photo for abstract painting and can use different mediums other than acrylic paint. This DIY abstract art canvas tutorial from Lolly Jane uses gold leaf flakes and pieces of cardboard for a brush.
Once you’ve picked a photo you like, it’s time for the fun part — picking your paints! You can refer to your photo for the right shades and hues, but you don’t have to be super strict about this. Because this activity is canvas painting for kids, you and your little ones can explore and experiment with the colors that work best or which ones you’ll be happy with. Before working on the actual canvas, you can let them become familiar with paint colors on a separate piece of paper or a practice canvas.
If you’re working with older kids, it pays to have a quick introduction to color theory. You can have a short activity that discusses primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. However, keep in mind that the goal is to have fun and to encourage creativity among beginning painters.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember about picking paints is making sure that they’re safe for children to use. Avoid using adult-grade paints as they may contain toxic ingredients. You can ask your local art store about which paints are kid-friendly.
Another important step in this activity is preparing all your supplies. It goes without saying that painting can get messy, but kids will have an easier time when art supplies are close by and lined up neatly.
Aside from those already mentioned above, don’t forget to also prepare the following items:
- A smock to keep their clothes from getting messy with paint splashes
- A painting palette for mixing (this can be made of wood, plastic, or ceramic)
- Rags or paper towels
- Jars or cups of water for cleaning brushes
- Soap for cleanup
- Newspapers or scrap paper to keep your tables and floors mess-free
- Masking tape
With your art supplies prepared, it’s time to ready your canvas. Set your canvas in a spot where there’s enough space for your child to move around and freely paint. Usually, stretched canvases are mounted on easels, but you can always set them flat on a table. This is where a masking tape comes in handy when keeping your canvas in place.
Priming your canvas with gesso is entirely optional as acrylics won’t damage an unprimed canvas. However, if you want to learn how to prime your canvas with gesso, this YouTube video from Paint and Pinot in Perth provides a quick, step-by-step tutorial.
Now that you’ve prepared your canvas, art supplies, and acrylic paints, you can finally create your drawing! You can take inspiration from the photo you’ve chosen or experiment with what you want your painting to look like.
Just like picking paints, kids can have a practice session first before setting the basic outline or foundation of their drawing on the actual canvas. Not only will practice sketches help them decide what and how to draw; this activity can also minimize mistakes that might cause some frustration later on. Practice sketches can also help them decide which version of the drawing they’re happiest with. An important skill they can learn from this activity is having the patience to conceptualize what their final art piece will look like.
On the other hand, some kids might want to start drawing and painting right away — and this is completely fine! This is what separates painting from other art techniques; you can easily paint over mistakes, which will be discussed in the next section.
Making mistakes is a normal part of the painting process. Young children can be especially prone to making painting mistakes since they’re just developing their motor skills and knowledge of art. In fact, they might not even be mistakes per se, but just a part of the painting they simply want to change.
In case your kids want to make corrections, the good news is they can easily do this by simply painting over the parts they want to adjust. This is why acrylic paints remain a popular choice among beginners: acrylics dry quickly, which makes corrections much easier to do. Correcting with still-wet paint will definitely spread out the colors, which might make an even bigger mess.
Give your kids time to review their painting, so they can make as many corrections as they like. Remind them to clean their brushes with the water cups or jars if they don’t want different colors to blend.
Once your kids are happy with their painting, let the canvas dry completely. When this is done, it’s best to use an acrylic paint varnish to seal in the final artwork. Doing this will preserve the colors and keep the finished painting from fading.
Canvas painting for kids is a fun and easy way to encourage creativity among young, aspiring painters. There are actually many other ways to use acrylics on canvas, and you don’t always have to use paintbrushes. One technique that perfectly demonstrates this is acrylic pouring. Also called pour painting, acrylic pouring can result in a whimsical, marble effect, and kids will have fun watching the paint flow right onto the canvas! If you want to learn more about pour painting, check out these DIY tutorials from Felt Magnet and Sweet Red Poppy.
It also helps to check out blog posts or social media sites like Pinterest and Instagram for canvas painting ideas. If your kids have enjoyed canvas painting with acrylics, they can even give their artwork as gifts to friends!