How to Paint Watercolor on Canvas

Are you interested in learning how to paint watercolor on canvas? If so, you’re in the right place.

The post below takes you through the preparation steps and the different techniques involved in how to paint a canvas with watercolors. 

Preparation for Watercolor Painting On Canvas Surfaces

Preparing canvas is important to ensure that the final piece looks as good as it can be.

  • Use a paintbrush with stiff bristles
  • Watercolor gesso
  • Buy fine-grit sandpaper
  • Masking tape 
  • Cotton buds 

Once you’ve got your items together, it’s best to prime the canvas using the gesso. Be sure to use two thin layers of gesso. Once you’ve evenly applied the first layer, leave it to dry completely before adding the second layer. 

This will prime the canvas and make it a better surface to paint on with watercolors. 

Painting Watercolor on Canvas Pad

  • Sketch out your design by using a pencil on the watercolor canvas. Alternatively, you could sketch onto a piece of transfer paper and transfer the drawing from the paper to the canvas. 
  • Make sure to place masking tape on the areas of the canvas that you don’t want to be painted. 
  • Some watercolor artists like adding an underlying paint layer with watercolor ground, which creates a faint color that sets the groundwork for the rest of your canvas board painting. 
  • If you add a background color, make sure to use a light touch when covering the canvas. Leave it to dry before painting over the top. 
  • Watercolor ground is also best for this due to how it creates a fantastic textured surface.
  • You can also get experimental and use different types of paint with watercolor paint and watercolor ground, such as acrylic paints. 
  • If you make any mistakes whilst painting on watercolor paper, you can use a cotton bud to gently soak up the paint or scrub it away. 
  • Once you’re finished, leave the painting to dry for a minimum of 24 hours before applying any sealant to the watercolor paper.

Also read: Best Watercolor Paints


So, that concludes our post on how to paint watercolors on canvas boards. Be sure to follow the steps mentioned above to ensure that you achieve the best results. There are different types of watercolor canvas pads, which include cold-pressed watercolor paper, stretched watercolor canvas, and traditional watercolor paper.

If you’re completely new to watercolor painting on a canvas surface, you may want to buy spare canvases so that you can practice your brush strokes. This can also be useful for helping you to experiment with different types of paint, including water-based paints, oil paints, watercolor grounds, and acrylic paint.

Hopefully, this post has been useful in helping you to understand more about what’s involved with creating watercolor canvases. 


How to seal watercolor paints on normal canvases?

After leaving the standard canvas to dry for 24 hours, you can use a spray sealant to lock in the colors and ensure that the art stays durable. 

Start by shaking the can and spraying an even coat across the entire painting. Make sure to go in back-and-forth motions so that the sealant doesn’t gather too much in one place.

Leave the first layer to dry before adding another layer. Make sure you use a thin layer each time to ensure that the finished painting looks even and smooth.

Many artists add 3-4 layers of sealant in total. This will ensure that your painting is more resistant to damage from UV rays and water. 

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Written By Adam Rushton

Adam has made a name for himself in the illustration industry and is a passionate blogger and writer on the subject of art, illustration and graphic design.

His artwork has been featured in countless publications and used for very well-known media projects. As a professional illustrator for over 20 years, Adams media outlets, a wealth of knowledge, and experience enable him to consult and advise artists and illustrators in this country (from York and Manchester to Southampton and London) and all over the world.