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Preparing a Canvas to be Smoother

I have recently fallen in love with painting on smooth panel boards as I feel I do not have to use as much paint. I paint much looser than when I use a canvas.

However, I own many canvases and would like to still use them. I have tried adding more gesso to them to help make the canvases smoother, but they still take a good amount of paint (more so than panels). Is there a product out there I could prepare my canvas with that will give it a smoother texture to paint on that would work with both acrylic and oil paints?

Apply gesso with a palette knife, sand when dry. Then apply a layer of varnish. That should make it smooth and slick as butter—which I, personally, would hate. ;-D

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Actually a layer of paint makes them pretty smooth. I’ve covered over an old painting back to white with paint after sanding and it was really smooth and non absorbent.

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I personally would be afraid to sand an old painting. I would be afraid to breath that toxic dust.

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Canvas is made to have more “tooth” than board…I would think that by the time you add a
lot of prep to change the surface you might as well have bought the board to begin with, heh.
Just a recommendation of course - But I would use your canvasses as they were intended and add the board to your options.
Another option would be to sell your canvasses online to be
replaced with the board option :slightly_smiling_face:


I read in a blog Maxwell Parish would paint on canvas after was varnished. He would apply first yellow tones, than warnish again. Over that coat he would paint green, orange blue, purple and brown, sealing each layer of paint with varnish. When painting was finish it would have glass alike smoothness and all those layers of varnish would make color translucent. Maybe same technique would work well for your style​:paw_prints::art:

I also switched to gesso boards a while back, and had lots of canvases leftover.
So I have been using a coating of Liquin on the canvases, and it works perfectly. Much less absorption and yet not so slick you can’t paint accurately. It dries in a day and you can use the canvas or canvas board quickly unlike a coating of oil paint.


I had an artists webpage bookmarked that really went into detail on how to make the classic gesso. It involved glue and chalk and was best used on wooden panels. Alas the page no longer exist.

I did find this video on youtube. It might be what you’re looking for. Smooth surface with a little (necessary) texture.

this video

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Good idea! I am going to try that. I prefer smoother surfaces too.

Gamblin oil ground. I apply with a small sponge roller to get even coverage. It dries much slicker than gesso.