Posted in painting

Experiment with Watercolor Canvas

I spotted this item at Hobby Lobby, which piqued my curiosity:

It is described as a canvas pad, suitable for watercolor and other wet media. It is primed, 100% cotton. At $9.00 for 10 sheets, it’s not exactly a cheap paper. It is a soft fabric-like sheet, obviously the same sort of stuff that is stretched over wood frames used by oil and acrylic painters. Yet it promises that watercolors work as well.

I had two questions: First, does it really take paint the way standard cotton watercolor paper does? Second: Does it behave like cotton fabric? For me, that means, can I sew on it, press it and use it on an art quilt?

Today was the day to try. My current project features ducks swimming on a pond. So I got out a reference photo and started a watercolor painting.

It was weird. The paint didn’t want to soak into the canvas. Whatever primer was added made it slightly water repellent.

As I continued to paint, the canvas started to accept the paints, at least a little. My wash went down – thinly, but eventually dried just fine. Getting the colors built up on the duck took a lot of patience. Here’s what I got:

As I removed the painter tape from the edges, I noticed that the tape had not kept the paint out. So no crisp line. That’s okay, I can always cut off the margins.

Next I had to see if the paint would stay put. I wet a brush and moved it along the wash area. The paint was lifting quite a lot, and quickly. So I can’t use a painted canvas in an item that will be exposed to water.

What about heat? I took the iron to the image, pressing gently at first. With a cloth over the duck, I then pressed at a higher heat (rayon setting) and held the iron in place for several seconds.

At first, there appeared to be no effect. Eventually I noticed that the canvas had rippled in response to the heat. The paint looked fine, but I also noticed some shiny places on the ducks’ head and neck. Obviously, at least one of the paint pigments had a binder or bit of metal that melted in response to the iron.

At this point I stopped my experiments. Next time I plan to apply my needle, thread and scissors. Maybe even run it through the sewing machine.

To be continued……


One of six children, I was raised by a busy mom, who instilled in me a love of fabric. Though I learned to sew and knit at a young age, it was the arrival of my first grandchild that pushed me into action. A long-time knitter, I am now ready to explore all things fiber.

7 thoughts on “Experiment with Watercolor Canvas

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