Do I Need To Prime My Canvas?

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Do I Need to Prime my Canvas Before Painting with Acrylics? 

This question is very common! The answer actually depends on the canvas that you purchase. Most, if not all, canvases that you buy at your typical craft stores are already primed for acrylic painting. If the canvas is a bright white color, it’s ready to go! I don’t prime my canvases because I buy them pre-primed.


How do I know if it has primer on it already?

Look at the label on your canvas that you bought or are about to buy. It might say something like “Titanium Acrylic Gesso Primed”. This means that the manufacturer applied gesso that is bright titanium white!  It is ready to be painted on, no primer required.


What is Gesso?

If you are referring to the bright white coating on the canvas, that is actually called “Gesso”! Gesso is a combination of white paint and binders and it is applied to a surface such as canvas. Canvas that is not “gessoed” is very absorbent. Thus, if you were to paint on that surface, the paint would just soak in and not glide easily.

You can apply Gesso to other surfaces that you don’t want to be absorbent such as wood!


What canvases do you get? 

I buy these bulk packs at Michael’s. I like frugal and I paint a lot. In that sense, these bulk canvases are great for the type of painting tutorials I have on this website! They are pre-primed and ready to be painted on.

Where can I get gesso?

Gesso can be bought at any arts and crafts store or Amazon. I hardly use it because I buy canvases that are primed and ready to go. If you are interested in priming a surface with gesso, I like the Liquitex Gesso. 

Can I apply the gesso on a canvas that is already “primed”?

Yes! In fact some artists prefer a different smoothness or want to experiment with different texture surfaces on the canvas. You can also apply a different color gesso like black!

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