Not all of us have been trained in the intricacies of canvas painting. After all, we’re not all cut out to be the next Rembrandt or Michelangelo.
But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t have fun putting together our own canvas paintings.
Your canvas creations can be used as decor in your home, gifts for friends, or just an opportunity to practice your own artistic skills.
Here are a few easy canvas painting ideas for beginners that will be fun to create and look great on display.
Before getting started with any of these canvas painting project ideas, you’ll need to gather your supplies.
Search online to see whether there’s an art store near you. Visiting an art store in-person is one of the best options for a beginner.
The staff will be able to help you find affordable, practical options for canvases, paints, brushes, and a palette.
If you don’t happen to have an art supplies store near you, you’ll be able to find all of these supplies and more on any number of online retailer websites. Just be sure to do your research before buying.
For any of the projects listed below, you should also have access to a small cup or bowl of water for rinsing off your brush and mixing colors.
Clouds in a Blue Sky
This is one canvas painting idea that doesn’t require you to just imagine your subject matter.
When painting clouds across a blue sky, we recommend taking your canvas and paints out onto your porch or to a local park where you’ll have a clear, uninhibited view of the sky.
Start out by painting the clouds themselves with a mix of white and gray. If you’re painting clouds in a sunset or sunrise scene, then you can start to combine many different warm colors into the undersides of the clouds.
Once you have the clouds in place, then you can start to fill in the blank space on the canvas with the colors of the sky itself.
Chances are the stock paint colors, whether oils or acrylics, will not include the perfect sky blue color. Instead, try to mix a darker blue paint with white until the color is light enough that it comes close to the color of the sky.
Painting a forest scene is one of Bob Ross’s standby projects. There have been many different how-to videos on painting your own forest landscape. Here is just one of them.
This type of painting may seem incredibly complex at first, but if painted slowly and carefully, a forest scene can be a great canvas painting idea for a beginner.
Start out by painting the canvas black. This will help give your other colors a darker undertone as you work through the scene.
Once the canvas has dried, then you can splotch in some greens and whites. You don’t have to fill in the whole canvas with your greens, just cover as much as you’d like.
These greens will serve as the leaves of the trees. Once you’ve finished, you can move on to a dark brown and start painting in the trunks of the trees.
Make them many different heights and thicknesses. This will help give the illusion of different depths and distances in your painting.
Mark Rothko was one of the most well-known abstract painters of the 20th century. He was best known for his paintings that featured large blocks of thick colors.
Feel free to take a page from his book and create your own abstract work that makes use of large blocks of color.
The color palette used is completely up to you. Try basing the colors used off colors already present in the room where you’re planning to hang the canvas.
If you’d like to end with lighter colors, start with a white background. If you’d prefer darker colors, then paint the canvas black first and let it dry, just like with the forest painting above.
You’ve likely already seen many still life paintings, just through cultural osmosis.
They typically feature a realistic depiction of fruit, often sitting in a bowl on a simple table.
Take whatever fruit you already happen to have in the house and place them in a small bowl on a nearby table.
Also important to this project is having adequate lighting. Many classical painters would wait until a specific time of day to paint their still life works.
Midday light will tend to be more bright with blue and white overtones, while early morning or evening light will have warmer overtones of yellow and orange.
Try your best to paint the forms of the fruit first, then fill them in with a mix of colors.
If you’re feeling ambitious, try to capture the shading as well as the colors. Decide up front which direction the light is coming from.
The opposite side of the fruit and the bowl should be darker overall, maybe even with some black shading thrown in.
A Favorite Quote
Painting a quote canvas is easy to do and will look great in your home or can even be given as a gift.
Decide on a quote first and visualize it written across your canvas to determine how large the letters should be.
Then, spell out the quote on your canvas using masking tape. While the tape is still on the canvas, splotch different colors on the canvas.
You don’t even have to worry about the letters since they’re covered with tape.
Once you’ve added all the colors you want, give the canvas plenty of time to dry. Once it’s dry, go ahead and peel the tape off, revealing your quote, outlined perfectly.
Above all else, remember to not be intimidated by the idea of canvas painting. If you’re concerned about ruining a canvas or changing your mind halfway through, you can try practicing on heavyweight paper first.
These simple canvas paintings are fun and easy to do and will help give you the confidence to create your own painting ideas in the future.
If you’re in need of further inspiration, check out our article on famous abstract paintings that you can imitate as a form of practice.