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Video:How to Prime a Canvas

with Jeanine Hattas

Priming a canvas will help to keep your paint from seeping through, and also allow you to have greater control over your finished product. Quick and easy, here's how you can prime a canvas.See Transcript

Transcript:How to Prime a Canvas

Hi - I'm Jeanine Hattas with Fresh Custom Art and Murals, and today we're going to learn how to prime a canvas.

Gesso and Priming

For priming, we're going to use a gesso - it's acrylic-based. With acrylic primer, you can do acrylic painting on top, you can also do oil painting on top. If you were to use an oil primer, you could only use oil paint on top.

So the way we'll do this, we'll do two coats. I have a little water here, just to make the gesso move a little bit smoother. Keep it pretty thin and also move pretty quickly. Acrylic dries very fast - we want to make sure we don't have any ridges. You can use a brush for this - you can also use a roller.

Apply the First Layer of Prime

The primer works kind of like a glue. Because the canvas it porous, it's going to seal it up so the paint won't go through. A gesso brush is a relatively inexpensive brush - you'll find that the hairs sometimes fall off, so you just peel those off. We'll prime the edges here - again, keep it thin and keep it moving. Make sure there are no drips.

Let the Canvas Dry

Okay, now you'll want to wait at least an hour for that to dry, and then we'll do a second coat.

Apply the Second Coat

When you're getting ready to do the second coat, you'll want to consider how the painting is going to look at the end. You'll also want to consider that when choosing you canvas. You can get a very smooth canvas - that's great for portraits and fine detail - or a very rough, thick canvas, which is great for thick oil paint or impasto painting that's going to look thick, maybe a little messy.

Primer Thickness

When doing your primer, when doing fine detail, you want to keep your primer layers pretty thin. And with the thicker paints - if you'd like a thicker kind of look - you can put the primer on a little bit thicker. You can even lay a piece of canvas on top of the primer while it's wet and pull it off, and you'll have the original canvas texture on there as well.

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