Monday, 26 November 2012


The primary reason for priming is to protect your canvas, board or other support from the destructive qualities of oil paint.

Acrylic paint can be used straight on to the surface or support (the support is your canvas, board or paper) but you may want to prime or use a transparent glue size (thinned PVA or rabbit skin glue) to give you a non absorbent surface so your paint doesn’t get soaked up into the canvas or board.


You will need:

  • a canvas or board
  • a priming brush
  • water and Acrylic primer
  • a spare jar or tub

If you dont have (or can't get) an acrylic primer you can make a cheap version using 2 parts emulsion and 1 part PVA Glue.



First you need to mix up a weak solution of primer about half water half primer. This will be your first coat (or size) this is to seal in all the little gaps between the weave of the canvas. 


Next, very simply apply enough coats of pure primer until you have the surface you require probably 2 or 3.

Be careful to apply each coat in different directions to ensure an even coverage and allow each coat to fully dry before applying the next.

If you have any lumps or imperfections in the surface use fine sandpaper to carefully sand then out.

If you are priming a smooth board (mdf or hard board) you may wish to give each coat a light sanding to remove brush marks. Also, if you thin the primer down a little the brush marks will be less distinct. Be aware this also means that more layers will be needed to cover the surface.

More complicated/old fashioned priming coming soon...


  1. Love this new blog of yours Dan! Thank you for sharing such invaluable advice. I'll be painting with oils again. Would you be able to provide some oil painting tips? Thanks! :)

  2. glad you are enjoying it! oil painting tips will be coming soon!