Tips on painting on large canvas

The following are nine tips that have been devised for painting on a large canvas with acrylics. Painting on a large canvas can be a slightly different experience but that’s just where the creativity starts.

What exactly does large mean? It could be that what is large to some may not be large to others. Some might consider anything over 16 by 20 inches large and some might not consider a painting to be large unless it is room sized.

I think the perfect definition of something large is anything bigger than 30 by 40 inches. But again, it could vary for many painters.

First choose your motif at large canvas

To start painting on a large canvas choosing a motif should always be the first thing considered. This is basically your entire inspiration for the painting. So begin to think of how it will look on a large canvas. It could be life-size or could also turn out to be very exaggerated. Ask yourself whether the large canvas will allow you to convey your vision for the painting or will it detract from it?

Select a proper support

This stage for your large canvas can be almost anything that will support your vision. Be sure to think about the physical and functional aspects of a large support for your canvas. Will it be easy or difficult to transport? Will it require special care when it comes to handling? Ask yourself whether it will support its own weight.

Choose your medium

Here you will want to consider the quantity of what you’re going to be painting with. Be sure to take your art palette into consideration and determine whether you have enough colors.

Vertical or horizontal in large canvas

Will your painting be vertical or horizontal in relation to your support? The large canvas  can make it difficult to decide on what the format should be so think about it ahead of time and make your decision. You will be able to decide easily if you have a clear image of your artwork in your mind

Be sure to know how you’re going to sketch the main idea on the canvas

Unless you are painting an abstract be sure to make a sketch on the large canvas to get an idea about the proportion. Plan ahead with slightly smaller sketches and work your way up to the proper scale.


Take out the time to assess your large canvas. Are the angles and relationships proportionate to each other? If there are any changes that need to be made assess it now and make them before you are about to begin. It is possible that a large scale may make you see colors, shadows and settings differently.

Have enough paint on your palette

This may sound silly but it is very important. A painting on a large canvas is bound to take up more paint than you are probably used to. If you are mixing colors just be sure to have enough on hand before you start. If acrylics are being used make sure it is kept moist with a spray bottle since it dies very fast.

Its ok if changes need to be made

Once you start you may notice the following:

  • You may need to change your setting as you may need more room to maneuver around the large canvas.
  • You might need to change your easel to support your canvas.
  • You could also require a stand or ladder to reach the unreachable parts of your large canvas.
  • Larger brushes could also be required.
  • Allow yourself more time than usual. It could take you longer than usual to finish a larger panting.

And there you have it. You never know, painting on large canvases could become your favorite way of painting!

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