Canvas painting is an old and noble kind of art. Some of the best paintings in history were created using this medium. When you first buy a canvas and prop it up on your easel, it seems you’ll never get the hang of. But, like everything else, it simply requires some practice. Let’s reproduce the process of canvas painting step by step for you to get a clear idea of how it should be done.
Prepare the canvas
The main difference between canvas and paper is that the former should be primed before your brush touches it. Unprimed canvas is less robust, less stable and doesn’t hold the paint. Even if the canvas is woven very tightly, the paint will tend to sink into the holes of an unprimed canvas. Nowadays, there is a wide choice of primers available, you can use any of them or prepare one on your own. Before painting, it is advisable to sprinkle the back of the canvas to allow for easier adhesion.
Make a sketch
While some artists completely omit the drawing stage, making a sketch will allow you to get a better outlook of your future painting and avoid some serious mistakes. Unlike paints, pencil can be easily erased, so if you are a novice, don’t get ahead of yourself and take some time to sketch the scene you are about to paint. If it includes straight objects like trees or lanterns, nobody will judge you for using a ruler.
Create the general coloring
Before you proceed to painting individual objects, you have to lay down the general colors of the picture. It’s called underpainting. Mark sources of light, the ground and the sky, establish the main contrasts. To get a clear palette, start with the largest and lightest areas. Light shades can be easily blocked with a darker color if you do it wrong. While working, try to spread paint as thinly as possible to leave space for additional strokes.
Review the canvas
Since underpainting largely defines the final look of your canvas, review it carefully while it’s drying. Look out for spots that lack contrast or tonal difference. Perhaps, you can make some areas lighter? Or add a darker shade here and there? Or scrape off some extra paint with a palette knife? Try to make the colors complete.
When the initial coat dries up a bit, you can start painting individual objects, adding detail, contrasts and light effects. Note the position of the light source and consider the natural play of light. Each object illuminated by it will have a shadow. Pay attention to the position, color and shape of reflections to get a natural-looking pattern. You should also add more interaction between the planes of your picture by highlighting certain areas and setting off objects that blend in with the background.
To see how it all works, take a look at canvas pictures by renowned artists like Leonid Afremov. Known for his self-developed painting style, he creates colorful and emotional works filled with warmth and romance. In the artist’s official gallery at http://afremov.com, you can find a collection of his best paintings and even buy one of them online!