Why You Should Prime and Varnish Your Canvas


    If you're new to the art world and new to painting on canvas, it's normal to have questions about the process in general, but even more so when it comes to both prep and finalization of your artwork: the biggest issue being, "is it necessary?"

     The short and honest answer is, "no" but the more complicated answer springs from the question, "then why do artists do it?"

    We'll take a deeper look at primer and varnish today to answer that question, and go over the benefits of each; 


    Before we look at the pros of priming a canvas, let's answer the question, "what is primer?"

    Primer is an artistic medium that creates a barrier between the canvas and the paints yet to be applied. It's purpose? The canvas becomes less paint absorbent, resulting in more vibrant colors with fewer applied layers. 

    Not only does primer help with the vibrancy of a painting, but it also increases an artwork's longevity. 

   Gesso is the most popular type of primer, and it's cheap to buy! Gesso is also used to create impasto artworks, particularly because of its pliability. 

    Check out this article to learn more about applying primer. 


  • cheap
  • waterproof barrier
  • aids in artwork longevity
  • paint vibrancy (no paint is absorbed into the canvas) 


    As we did with gesso, let's first explain what varnish is before we delve into the details. 

    Varnish is a clear medium applied to a painting to create a barrier between an artwork and the outside world. Like Gesso, it increases the longevity of a painting and also gives the paint a vibrancy that couldn't be accomplished otherwise.  

Check out this video below to see it in action:
@artbyfib the varnishing process is satisfactory #varnish #liquitex #quickvid #commission #artisty ♬ love nwantinti (ah ah ah) - CKay
    I started by coating the background before working on the foreground, but right away you can see the difference between the unvarnished and varnished areas of the canvas. There's a nice shine given to the artwork and everything pops out more.

  • glossy barrier
  • aids in artwork longevity
  • paint vibrancy
  • inexpensive depending on the brand

    Although priming and varnishing are not necessary steps, they prove nothing but beneficial. Consider trying out some varnish or primer for yourself to witness the difference first-hand. I can't recommend it enough!  


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