7 Tips For Using Gouache On Canvas!

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The popularity of gouache is sky rocketing right now in the arts and crafts community due to a number of different gouache based artwork videos going viral on social media. On top of this, there are a ton of tutorials on how beginners are able to use gouache for their painting or general arts and crafts to get excellent results with minimal effort too leading to people who are totally new to painting trying their hand at painting with gouache.

This has resulted in a correlating spike of people reaching out with a wide range of questions about using gouache and getting the best end results possible from their painting session. We have noticed a number of questions relating to using gouache on canvas recently so we have decided to publish this article going over a number of different tips and tricks that you are able to use with your gouache when applying it to a canvas to get yourself the best results possible.

These tips and tricks will help you ensure that you are applying your gouache to your canvas in the correct way while also prepping and sealing the canvas in a way that is optimal for the native properties of gouache to not be affected. This helps to maintain the opaque look of gouache and ensure that its unique, flat texture will be maintained to make sure that there is no mistaking your gouache artwork for regular acrylics or oil once dry on your canvas.

Using Gouache On Canvas!

Although gouache works well on paper or card, it really does shine when used on canvas with it usually looking like a heaver, more opaque paint with brilliantly bright and distinct colors once dry. If you are using a normal gouache paint formula then it can work with both a primed (usually with gesso) or unprimed surface without having any problems during application or drying.

That said though, if your gouache paint formula does have excess water in it or you have mixed your gouache with a different paint type or medium to change its normal consistency than what it has right out of the tube then it can some times have small issues with sticking to a primed canvas. This is rare though and will usually not cause any problems for the majority of people as reputable gouache formulas are of excellent quality and even if they have a little too much water in them, you shouldn’t be having major problems with it attaching to a primed canvas.

Beginners often report having issues with brush strokes drying into their gouache layer when used on both canvas and paper but this is almost always down to user error rather than problems with their gouache. Often, beginners will be using far too much gouache, unsuitable brushes, or going over their gouache with their brushes too many times causing this brush stroke effect. If you do notice yourself having issues with brush strokes drying into your gouache when used on canvas, look at those three areas and it is highly likely that you will find the problem.

Can You Use Gouache On Canvas?

Gouache is surprisingly easy to use on canvas due to its softer consistency than some other popular paint types with it often being a better paint type to use with canvas than some other paints. Not only does the unique texture of gouache make it very easy to actually apply to your canvas but its natural pigments also ensure that you are getting a brilliantly beautiful color once your gouache is dry.

We have noticed a large amount of incorrect advice out there recently when it comes to using your gouache on your canvas with people advising beginners that gouache is not a suitable paint type. This is not correct at all and gouache can actually be easier to use on canvas than some acrylic paint and oil paint formulas in certain situations. The consistency offers a similar application process to some water colors while offering a better color with hints of opacity.

We always recommend that you try to use a high quality gouache paint though rather than the cheaper entry level gouache options on the market. That said though, even the cheaper gouache paint formulas tend to be of a higher quality than the cheaper acrylic and oil paint formulas often resulting in a better end result for your paint once dry on canvas or paper.

Does Gouache Work On Canvas?

Gouache works very well for most painting styles when used on canvas with it often having less downsides than some of the more popular types of paint on the market. On the flip side of this though, the main downside of gouache is its high price tag and although this does not go against its actual performance when painted onto canvas, it can price gouache out of the budget for many beginners.

A large number of beginners rightfully go with a normal acrylic paint when first starting out due to it being cheaper than gouache. That said though, gouache can actually be a better paint to learn with for canvas painting due to how quickly normal acrylic paints dry on canvas making it a paint to practise blending with. Gouache on the other hand, tends to stay wet for a longer period of time allowing you to practise blending and mixing the paint on the canvas for longer but keep in mind, too much blending or mixing can detract from the end result.

We actually have a dedicated gouache vs acrylic paint comparison article online going over the advantages and disadvantages of each paint type that may be helpful to you. Although it is not specific to using either paint type on canvas, the main advantages and disadvantages covered in the article for each paint type will apply for any surface that you choose to apply your paints to.

What Canvas Is Best For Gouache?

Although there are a wide range of canvas options on the market that will work well with gouache paint, we usually recommend the Arteza canvas range due to it being low priced and offering excellent performance. Due to the Arteza brand being so large, you should always be able to easily find their canvas products when needed and they work exceptionally well with gouache.

Your local arts and crafts store will usually stock the Arteza canvas range as standard due to them being such a popular paint brand but they can often over charge for them, even when bought in bulk. This is why we usually recommend that you look for Arteza canvas online as they tend to work out cheaper for both single canvas purchases and bulk canvas purchases. If you are a beginner to using gouache on canvas and you are trying to keep your costs as low as possible these savings really can start to add up quickly.

Arteza offers both cotton and linen canvas products within their range and as normal, the linen canvas products within their range are more expensive than their cotton products. When it comes to using your gouache on a linen canvas, the performance of the canvas itself is marginally better but if you are a beginner to canvas painting then you should easily be able to get everything that you need out of a standard cotton canvas and help to keep your costs as low as possible while still having solid performance for your gouache.

Can You Use Gouache Over Gesso On Canvas?

Most gouache paint formulas will work well with a gesso primer on canvas and not have any issues at all. If you do add other types of paint to your gouache prior to applying to to your gesso then you may have some small issues if the water content of the paint is increased to a high level but this really is a small chance and won’t have an effect on most people.

For optimal performance, we would recommend that you use a cheap yet high quality gesso where possible too as it can increase the chances of your gouache paint working with the gesso without having any problems. A common mistake that we see beginners to the painting space make time and time again is that they will try to apply their gouache to their canvas while their gesso is still wet and as you may expect, this caused a bunch of problems. Always wait for your gesso to fully dry on your canvas prior to you applying your gouache to it if possible.

There are a number of other primers that you can technically use with your canvas prior to applying your gouache to it if you really want to aswell but most people will get better results by just sticking with gesso as their primer. THe vast majority of the gesso formulas have been perfected over the years so they stick to your canvas well, dry quickly, and then form a solid base for your gouache or any other type of paint that you may want to use with it.

Brushes Used For Painting With Gouache On Canvas!

The majority of people will be able to use any suitable paint brushes with their gouache and get great results when applying their paint to a canvas. Even the cheaper, entry level paint brushes can perform well with gouache and offer excellent control over your paint during the application process allowing you to get high levels of detail in your painting.

You are able to pick up some decent brushes for gouache on canvas for around $20 though that do tend to offer slightly better performance than a random set of brushes. Depending on your budget and experience level of using your gouache on canvas or paper, the priced for brushes can rapidly increase from there though.

If you do use other paint types in addition to your gouache, especially oil paints then be sure to fully clean your brushes prior to using them with your gouache. Oil based and water based paints tend notto mix well at all and this is another common mistake that we constantly see people new to painting make time and time again. If you have used a solvent solution to clean your brushes then you have to make sure that that has been fully removed too as it can cause some pigments in gouache to fade in color rapidly too.

How Do You Seal Gouache On Canvas?

Depending on the type of painting you use your gouache for, you may not actually have to seal your gouache on your canvas once dry. If you are looking to protect your gouache and ensure that your painting lasts for as long as possible, a decent, acrylic sealer that offers UV light protection can be all you need though. Simply spray the sealer over your canvas once your gouache has dried and leave the sealer to dry to ensure that your painting is protected.

There is no need to pay over the odds for a sealing agent if you are a beginner or trying to keep your costs as low as possible too. Many of the more expensive sealers on the market offer very similar protection to a cheap sealer for gouache and only really stand out for very niche situations. This is why we usually recommend that you just try to go with a cheap yet reputable sealer for your gouache canvas paintings.

When looking to seal your gouache painting on a canvas surface, it is important to wait for your gouache to fully dry prior to applying your sealing agent to the paint. If the gouache has not fully dried then the remaining moisture in the paint may cause the sealer to cloud over and ruin the overall look of your painting. Although this is an easy mistake to make, it is also very easy to avoid and if in doubt, wait another day or two before applying the sealer to your gouache as it is better to be safe than sorry.


That brings our article going over how to use gouache on canvas to an close. Using gouache on a canvas surface for your painting is often much easier than most people initially think and even a beginner can often get excellent results from their painting with minimal prior experience using gouache or painting on canvas. Due to this, we would feel confident in recommending canvas painting with gouache to a beginner provided they have the budget available. If you are trying to keep your costs down then building up your core skill set with acrylic paints on paper is often a much cheaper option.