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Canvas Painting Techniques

Priya Johnson
To create a refined oil painting, one needs to be well-versed with various painting techniques. With the help of these techniques you can attain interesting effects on the canvas, thereby, giving the picture a more realistic look.
Painting on canvas is an altogether different feeling in itself. It enlarges your world and helps you unleash your creative side. Over the centuries, scores of people have derived pleasure from this amazing art form and have even blessed others with their phenomenal works. Here are some of the basic techniques involved in canvas painting.

Blending Technique

This technique is of prime importance when one is doing landscapes and sunset paintings. It is very important for the sky to blend with the water of the sea. Blends are gradual transitions from one color to another. Oil paint is a wonderful medium that allows wonderful blends.
Two colors can be applied next to each other or on top of one another to form the blend. Flat or fan brushes are the best for blends, while round are the worst. While blending colors, always work the lighter color into the darker one.
Moreover, the paint applied should be wet, so as to allow the other paint to blend into it. However, since oil paints do not dry quickly it's easy to create the blending effect.

Broken Color Technique

Using broken color technique instead of blending gives a more vibrant and brighter look to the painting. Basically, this technique gives the painting a pleasing texture; one that captures and scatters light.
For this technique, paint a base color using a flat brush. Now, take a lighter color and make random dabs and swirls on the canvas with quick brush movements. The strokes should not blend with the base paint.
After each dab or stroke clean your brush, moreover, use thick paint so that the paint does not run down the canvas. Use filbert and round brushes for this stroke. You do not need to complete a picture using this technique, but can use it alongside other painting techniques.

Alla Prima Technique

Also known as direct painting, this technique is used when the painting is finished in just one sitting or painting session. This technique calls for wet on wet, which means the artist does not wait for the previous paint to dry, before applying the next color.
There is no underpainting or sketches involved in this technique. One needs to be careful with this technique, because if the colors are not applied correctly, the painting can get quite muddy! Moreover, it is comparatively a difficult technique, because the artist has to mix the colors very quickly on the canvas. Alla Prima is not meant for novices.


Stippling creates an optical blending of color, on close up one can observe several dots of color. When one moves further away from the painting, the colors will appear to merge into one another.
Stippling is another form of blending and involves applying thousands of colored dots on the canvas to build color, with a small rounded brush. It's a time-consuming technique and requires lots of patience.
The other techniques are glazing, underpainting, dagger strokes, caress strokes, painting knife technique, frottage, toned canvas, etc. There are no correct or wrong techniques in canvas painting.
Try a variety of approaches and find out which suits your style best. Once you have mastered some of these basic techniques, you can come up with various canvas painting ideas and create masterpieces of your own.