Can Fabric Paint Be Used on Canvas? (What You Need To Know)

fabric paint on canvas

Can Fabric Paint Be Used on Canvas?

Fabric paint is not usually the first choice for an art canvas. However, it can be used for that purpose. As with other non-traditional mediums, fabric paint offers a unique presentation in color and vibrancy when applied properly.

So if you’re in the mood to paint and fabric paint is the only medium available at the moment, don’t hesitate to use it. Fabric paint has a brightness to it that is unique and appealing. Make sure you do the necessary prep work for your canvas and paints, and the outcome will be a pleasing surprise.

Comparing Paint Composition

The most commonly used canvas paints are acrylic, which is water-based, and oil paints. 

Fabric paint, also called textile paint, is a modified acrylic developed for use with natural fibers. It has been formulated not to stiffen the fabric as it dries. 

Fabric paints are mixed with color pigments, then emulsified. The unique recipe enables the paints to be used multiple times without drying out. Fabric paint can be successfully applied to tougher surfaces and even around corners because of its durable, flexible properties. 

Fabric paint is crack-resistant, long-lasting, and less sensitive to temperature or wear and tear than paints that dry to an inflexible finish. They can be exposed to direct sunlight for extended periods without fading or cracking.

These properties are apparent when considering that garments may be painted, then worn outside, and washed/dried many times before the pigments begin to fade or flake away.

Fabric paints are available in a wide variety of colors. Using them does not require any special skills or techniques. Fabric paint offers quirky, vibrant hues and cool tones. The presentation is trendy for floral art. 

If you do have acrylic paint handy and want a more traditional look, combine two parts fabric paint with one-part acrylic paint. Since they’re close relatives, the two paints incorporate easily. The mixture will be thinner than acrylic but thicker than fabric paint alone for added texture and depth of shading.

Preparing the Canvas

Since most canvas is made from cotton, linen, or some combination thereof, canvas surfaces can certainly support fabric paint as a medium. Many canvases are made from recycled fibers, making them eco-friendly as well. Do keep an eye out, though, as there are a few synthetic canvas options out there as well, and those won’t work well for fabric paint.

Canvas can be bought pre-mounted or in rolls. If you decide to mount your own canvas, remember it is essential for the surface to be as taut as possible before applying paint. Mounting kits are available to help you produce the needed surface tension.

It is vital to prime a canvas surface before using fabric paint. Without proper primer, fabric paint will be absorbed too deeply into the surface, resulting in a dull, faded look.

The canvas becomes stiffer and more durable when primed. There is less tendency for sagging or bulging on the frame. Priming will quickly reveal any lack of tautness in the canvas before painting begins.

An art primer, such as Gesso, will prepare the surface of the canvas to receive fabric paint. Canvas primers can be purchased online or at local paint or art supply stores. Gesso is not the only primer available but is popular among artists for its dependable execution.

You can also heat acrylic paint with fabric paint together to produce a canvas sealant. Heating will thin the mixture and help it be absorbed more deeply into the fibers.

Using a primed canvas keeps colors strong and maintains their original hue. The colors stay on the surface, allowing less degradation over time.

Tips For Applying Fabric Paint to Canvas

Don’t be in a hurry to start painting! The more preparation, the more spectacular the result. Let the primer dry thoroughly on the canvas before beginning any paint application. Damp primer will allow paint to seep through, resulting in dull spots.

Sketch your design. Make as detailed a sketch as possible, and plan the colors you will need to meet your goal. Gather all your brushes and rags, and have water on hand before beginning the final step.

Consider paint drying time. Once you begin actually applying paint to the canvas is the time to consider alacrity. Fabric paint will dry quickly on canvas, a dry medium that quickly absorbs moisture even when primed. 

Apply paint rapidly, and correct any errors immediately before they can dry. Add shading as you go so that the colors can blend into one another while still damp.

Don’t wait to clean up. Again, fabric paint dries quickly, so brushes should be placed in water and cleaned quickly after each project. Leaving a brush with paint lying in the air very long could mean losing it.

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