Painting canvases

I love painting fabric then stitching it, but the downside is that it’s a much slower process than simply painting canvas. Sometimes I want to work on more projects and be more experimental with my painting since I feel like I learn so much every time I sit down to paint. Unfortunately, I don’t have that much free time to paint just for fun, while I try to keep up with the business side of teaching.

In my studio I have stacks of small canvases that I use to paint or wrap small quilts on. A week ago I sat down to paint one evening and then kept going for four days.

I was most interested in creating imagery by working in layers with acrylic inks and see about how much it differs from working on fabric. One of the biggest things I noticed was how much LESS paint I used and how much faster/easier it was to paint than fabric.

Initially, I painted colors on the canvas without much regard to the final imagery.

Then I began blocking out areas by painting in the background or negative space to create the plant forms. Then I painted in more color and shading on each object. This painting is 9″ x 12″


On my second painting of the blue bird (8″ x 8″) I started by laying down color that was the opposite on the color wheel of the color I wanted each object to be.

So the bird was painted golden orange first and the plants were painted in pinks and purples. I then over painted those objects with the final color.


Continuing with this process, I painted a few branches of succulents from drawings in my sketch book in warm transparent colors (yellows, oranges, and reds) then worked with greens and blues on top.  9″ x 12″

On the next 9″ x 12″ painting, I drew the trees and landscape using a thick, dark, soft-lead pencil and then painted it with simple gradations of color and over glazing.

For the last painting, I took a few photos of the underpainting process to show how I built up the layers. The benefit of canvas is you can paint over stuff as much as you want since you don’t have to worry about creating stiffness because of needing to stitch the final painting. In the photo on the right you can see where my sleeve dipped in green paint on my palette and smeared on the canvas. That would have been a big problem on fabric!

For the underpainting, I thinned the color using more water mixed with the acrylic inks, giving it almost a watercolor look and then painted more opaquely over it with the next layer.

I painted various colors on the background and then painted over it with white acrylic ink. White acrylic ink has a bit of translucency which allows hints of other colors underneath to come through.

I didn’t want the background to be white though, so I glazed a sheer yellow over the top. I really love how hints of blue and soft orange still come through in places.

I have a few more canvases in the line up I want to paint, but I’ve had to get back to other work and hope to get back to it before too much time goes by.

Keep creating, Judy

I’d love to spark your creativity at one of these upcoming events:

May 4-6 Nadelweldt, Karlsruhe, Germany
Exhibition and workshops

June 1-2 Meissners, Sacramento Blooming Inspiration

July 27-28 Meissners, Santa Rosa Blessings in the wind; mixed-media prayer flags

August 14-18, 2018 Woodland Ridge Retreat, WI
5 – day Paint and Print-a-palooza retreat

October 19-21 Ephemera Paducah, Paducah, KY
Tea and Ephemera and Blessings in the wind: mixed-media prayer flags

October 27 Meissners, Sacramento, Fiesta Ornaments

IMG_5538Judy is an artist, explorer, image wrangler, knowledge seeker, instructor, speaker, creative alchemist, and purveyor of inspiration, helping others channel creativity on a daily basis.

10 Responses to “Painting canvases”

  1. jennyklyon says:

    Great post Judy! I have so much to learn about color and paint-thank you for detailing your thoughts and process. Love what you’ve done!

  2. Chris Eichner says:

    It’s such a conincidence that you’ve related this inspiring technique. Last week I had an idea to paint on canvas and then embellish with Thread painting, I’ve yet to try it. Thanx for update. I’ll let you know how I make out, yes never enough time to play

    • You’re welcome Chris. As long as your sewing machine doesn’t mind sewing canvas it should be great. You might want to use some heavier weight cotton threads, like Superior King Tut, so it shows up better. Looking forward to seeing what you do.

  3. Leah says:

    Fabulous colours! The teal greens/blues with hits of oranges/yellows make each image sing! Such happy images.

    I’ve recently started playing with Inktense pencils (is that drawing or painting? a bit of both, I think) on fabric, so I know what you’re talking about regarding the stiffness that can result.

    Thanks for the motivation to keep playing.

  4. Shirley Stevenson says:

    Again thank you for explaining in detail your processes. I recently placed my husband in a memory care facility and look forward to having time to be creative again. I used to paint on fabric years ago and loved it. I have loved your art for years!

    • thanks Shirley. I’m sorry you are going through that with your husband that has probably kept you very busy for quite a while. You need some “me time” in a big way and delving into the creative realm is the best medicine. Time to pull out those paints! 🙂

  5. Totally love these!! Makes me long for our bee days and playing together. Maybe I should pull out some paints of my own.

    • I so agree Vickie, I miss those fridays too and yes you should pull out some paints and play 🙂 I was talking to someone about SOFA the other day and really miss going to it with you and Julie. I’m going to have to check the dates and my southwest points and try and go with you next time. We need an art trip!

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