Do you prefer a White Canvas or Colored for Starting a Painting?

Should you start your painting on a white canvas? …or is there an alternative… And I’m not referring to the black canvases you can buy!!

I found myself answering a fellow blogger who had purchased an easel and a large white canvas a year ago and is sitting staring her back and challenging her!

A blank canvas? Follow the example of some of the masters: paint a colored background first!

The Group of Seven from Canada (I had the incredible opportunity to view their work up very close, a few inches away  in the National Gallery in Ottawa, when I noticed this), and Tom Thompson especially, would paint over a pre-painted orange background, sometimes red as I recall. If bits of orange showed through they didn’t stress over it since it added more dynamism to their paintings!

I’ve experimented with this concept and have used different colors for backgrounds. It’s also very relaxing to do this prep work!

lone red tulip watermarkedHere’s my Orange Tulip done on an orange background: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/lone-red-tulip-tamara-kulish.html while this flower painting Blue Fairy Tree was done on a dark background of blues and greens mixed with black: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/blue-fairy-tree-tamara-kulish.html

The of a blank white canvas scares and intimidates too many people! Try different colors, not just colors you might find in your future projects but try complimentary colors!

If I’m in a slump I find preparing a few canvases helps get me through it… I’m doing something productive and my creative juices start flowing!

Be sure to allow for enough drying time before painting on top! If you paint regularly, you’ll want to prepare your canvas backgrounds on a regular basis so you’ll have enough canvases dry and ready for when you start the actual image!

By pre-painting the backgrounds, even in complimentary colors, your first brushstrokes or markings will appear to make more sense, feel more anchored, and you’ll have a sense of already being in the painting, without the trepidation and anxiety of starting completely from scratch!

Is this cheating? No, because you’ll have done the work of painting the background yourself!

It’s freeing and liberating! I love the discovery of how my background colors interact with the colors I place on top, especially since I favor working in thin glazes to build up layers of rich color!

Try this and I’m sure you’ll have fun!!

Here’s few more links to paintings I did on pre-painted canvases  (with real paint, which adds some background texture to a finished piece, and will modulate the colors, as opposed to colored Gesso – where the color is one color and flat).

Click on any of the images to see it on Fine Art America!

moody irises watermarked
Moody Irises

Touch this Sunflower watermarked
Touch this Sunflower

White Hibiscus watermarked
White Hibiscus

Maple sugar shack in Quebec watermarked
Maple Sugar Shack in Quebec

A last thought: ART TOTE BAGS! Yup! Love a piece of art but don’t have space for it, even a small scale reproduction on your walls! Tote bags! Plus if you keep a few in your car, you’ll be ready for shopping trips and can save a plastic tree with your eco thoughtfulness!! #wearable art

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Get my books now! Amazon

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2 thoughts on “Do you prefer a White Canvas or Colored for Starting a Painting?

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