Can You Use Watercolor On Canvas Without Gesso? Don’t Do This Mistake

I’ve seen and read a lot of conflicting information over the years. This is my attempt to answer this question. If you’re an artist who uses watercolor, this will help you decide whether or not you need to use a primer before applying your paint. Can you use watercolor on canvas without gesso?

Yes, you can use watercolor on canvas without gesso. However, the result will be disappointing. The drawback of using watercolor on a canvas without gesso is that the paint will not be absorbed as well as it would on canvas that has been prepared with gesso. This means that you have to be careful when applying your first layer of paint!

While I hope this short explanation gave you an insight into using watercolors on canvas, do keep reading to have a better understanding of the topic. I’m going to talk about priming the canvas, different watercolor canvases, and more!

Do you need to prime a canvas for watercolor?

Can you use watercolor on canvas without gesso

Watercolor paintings are among the most popular of all art forms. Artists love the freedom and spontaneity of this medium, while collectors enjoy the bright colors and unique textures that watercolors create.

But can you use watercolor on canvas without gesso?

Well, watercolors need more support from the material – something to absorb the water and hold it. Canvas is more liquid resistant and it won’t hold the watercolors.

If you want to create your own watercolor painting on a canvas, you’ll need to know how to prime the canvas for watercolor before you start.

If you haven’t done any painting on canvas before, you may wonder if it’s necessary to prime your canvas for watercolor.

The answer is yes! You cannot simply paint directly onto a bare canvas because it will bleed as you add even a small amount of moisture to the surface.

This is why I recommend priming the regular canvas with gesso – and I’m very passionate about it!

The best canvas for watercolor

The best watercolor canvas is the one that works best with your style and artistic vision. What is the best canvas for watercolor?

Watercolor canvas is the ultimate choice for artists who want to create the look and feel of a watercolor painting.

Watercolor canvas is a cotton fabric that has been coated with a layer of gesso and stretched over a wooden frame. This allows it to absorb the paint, resulting in a unique effect that you can only get from painting on this type of canvas.

If you’re just starting out, you can use any type of paper or cotton fabric as a canvas; however, if you plan on doing a lot of watercolor painting, it’s worth investing in some high-quality materials.

Canvas board is a type of paper made from wood pulp and cotton linters that are glued together before being pressed with heat and pressure. Canvas boards can be found in a variety of thicknesses.

The thicker the board is, the better it will hold up against warping over time – but it won’t feel as soft under your brushstrokes as a thinner piece would be.


What happens if you use watercolor on a normal canvas?

The main thing to remember when using watercolors on a normal canvas is that the paint will not be able to soak into the canvas. Instead, it will sit on top of the weave.

Can you paint watercolor on raw canvas?

Raw canvas does not have any priming treatment done prior to painting on it so it may require more work in order for your paints to stick properly.

What is gesso made of?

Gesso is a white paint made from gypsum, chalk, and glue. It’s used as a base coat for painting and is traditionally applied to wood panels or canvas.

Final thoughts

So, can you use watercolor on canvas without gesso? Gesso is a special paint made specifically for priming canvases and in my opinion, it should be used when painting with watercolors.

The purpose of gesso is to provide a surface that will accept wet media (like watercolor) but not bleed through or warp the canvas.

If you have any further questions on the topic, please leave me a comment and I will answer to the best of my abilities.

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