Choosing a Painting Surface 

“A great artists can paint a great pictures on a small canvas.”Charles Dudley Warner



Your choice of what you paint on can alter the working properties of your the paint and give a different painting experience.

Dont let it be a mystery, jsut follow a few simple rules.

Its good to note that: Acrylics straight from the tube are the most flexible medium, this enables them to be painted on anything from paper, canvas, cardboard, metal.

Where as Oils are more tricky, these have to be painted onto a properly prepared surface like a prepared canvas or prepared board.  Altho I recommend a gesso surface for acylics as it helps with the flow and drying time of the paint.

Watercolours work best on paper, Cold Pressed paper is recommended,( or NOT as its called), It’s ideal for less experienced painters as it’s more forgiving. 

Watering-Down (Thinning) Acrylics

When I start an acrylic painting, I usually work from thinner diluted layers in the under-painting stages, as you see on my youtube lessons  up to more thicker paint layers (impasto) in the final stages of my painting.


Fat over lean

A Classical Oil Painting techique where you build up layers of oil paint, known as ‘fat over lean’

Fat over lean means that each succeeding layer of paint should have more ‘fat – oil’ than the preceding layer.

If painting indirect (working in layers rather than all in one go – Alla-Prima) you need to stick to this rule to prevent cracking and give the painting a good structure in your oil paintings.

This same practice is used with many of my acrylic paintings.


Watery washes at the underpainting stage create a really nice matt paint surface for the blocking-in stages. Then the subsequent layers, which are slightly thicker (less diluted) will absorb and ‘grab’ nicely into the layer below.

Don’t forget, acrylic paint is plastic based, so if you paint the first layers too thickly, you can create a hard, shiny surface completely covering the tooth of canvas this will make the paint slide and not grab. 


With thin layers at the beginning of a painting, you can tweak your drawing and colours and then start painting thicker layers when you’re more confident the painting is coming together.



Print Print | Sitemap