Why you need to prime your canvas and 3 EASY steps for doing it

By Nicole Tinkham

When a creative idea strikes, you’re probably anxious to get your supplies together and starting creating, right? We know what it’s like to be in the artistic “zone” and want to jump right in but sometimes it’s important to get the not-so-fun part (like priming your canvas) done first before you can play. Here’s why you don’t want to skip the priming step and how to go about doing it the EASY way.

Why prime?

Priming your canvas is getting it ready to be painted on, just like using primer before painting the walls in your house. Only when it comes to canvas, you’ll be using a thing called Gesso. Gesso will protect the fibers of the canvas. This is important because it keeps your painting archival (or lasting a long time). And yes, you HAVE to use Gesso here. Ordinary white paint doesn’t have the same properties or texture that Gesso has.

Priming also makes the canvas easier to paint on. It makes the surface smooth and you won’t have to use as much paint. Another bonus is the protection of your brushes. The Gesso layer will protect them from deteriorating, which can happen when working directly on the canvas.

How to prime a canvas
You will need:

1.    Put some Gesso on your palette. Scoop it up with your paint brush and apply it to the canvas in one direction, covering evenly. Get the Gesso as smooth as possible on the canvas. Make sure to also get the sides if you plan on painting them.

2.    Let the Gesso dry completely and then add a second coat, applying in the opposite direction as the first. Let the second coat dry.

3.    If you feel the canvas needs more, add a third coat and let dry completely before painting on it.

Your final primed canvas won’t be anything exciting. In fact, it probably looks just like it did before you primed it which is why many artists feel like skipping over this tedious step. Our tip to you is to get all of your canvases primed ahead of time so you can begin painting right when inspiration strikes. Or you can go the easy route and purchase your canvas already primed. Have some priming tips to share? Comment below or over to our Facebook page.

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