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How to Hand Paint Canvas Bags

Rimlee Bhuyan
Canvas bags are utilitarian and are not known for being fashionable. Transform your canvas bags into stylish ones by painting them.
If you are like me and need to carry everything in your handbag, then a canvas tote bag is just what you need. But a plain canvas bag can be a bit boring and come to think of it, does not match your dressing style at all. There is no worse way of killing a beautiful outfit, than pairing it with a utilitarian and plain looking canvas bag. So what are you to do? Discard the bag?
A better option would be to reinvent and update the canvas bag by painting and embellishing it. It is easy to do and with a bit of creativity you can transform your boring canvas bag into a work of art. If you are thinking, "oh, I am not the artsy type, I can't possibly paint", then there is no need to worry. There are many painting techniques that do not require you to be particularly artsy. Here we will bring to you some great ideas on hand painting canvas bags.

Painting Ideas for Canvas Bags

There are several ways to paint a canvas bag. You can even make a few squiggles and pass it off as modern art. Jokes apart, canvas tote bags need to be painted with good quality fabric paints or acrylic paints.
You need to place a piece of cardboard or wax paper inside the bag so that the paint does not seep in through the canvas and transfer to the backside of the bag. Given are a few ideas on how to hand paint canvas bags.


One of the smartest way to paint a canvas bag so that it looks polished and finished is to use a stencil. Flip through your favorite magazines to find a motif that catches your fancy. Or you can draw your own stencil with any motif of your choice.
Once you have selected the design for the stencil (or drawn it), transfer the design into stiff card paper. Now cut out the design of the stencil with a pair of sharp scissors and place it over the front side of the canvas bag.
Slide a piece of wax paper on the inside of the bag to protect it. Pour some fabric paint or acrylic paint in a small saucer and dab a small sponge into the paint. Holding the stencil firmly on the bag, dab the sponge over the stencil carefully. Make sure that you don't go over the outline of the stencil or shift the stencil while you are sponge painting it. Allow the paint to dry, then lift the stencil off the bag. Voila! Your hand painted canvas bag is ready.

Stamp Prints

Another great idea for people who are not that great at free hand painting is to try stamp printing. It is a very easy painting technique and all you need to have is a good design sense. Look for unique flowers or leaves when you go for a stroll in the park. Collect these flowers and leaves. Dip one side of the flower or leaf in fabric paint, shake off the excess and place it over the canvas tote bag. Allow paint to dry and remove in one swift movement.
Instead of flowers and leaves, you can also use firm vegetables and fruits like potatoes and apples. Slice a potato or an apple into two and mark a design on the flesh of the vegetable with a pencil. Carve around the outline of the design with a sharp knife or blade.
The design itself should be raised from the background. Brush fabric paint into the cut out vegetable or fruit and stamp it on the canvas bag. Use a variety of colors and designs to make the canvas bag more attractive.
These were some unique ways in which you can hand paint a canvas bag. Of course, you can try free hand painting if you are good at it. Always wash the canvas bag before painting over, or the fabric might shrink and the paint might crack. With some beautiful designs, you can covert a plain canvas bag into a trendy and chic one.