Do you ever dream about creating your own needlepoint designs? I get lots of questions related to that topic, so this week, we’re going to take a peek at some of the things you need to know about getting started with painting needlepoint canvases. Sound good? Alrighty, then let’s dive in!
Before you don your artist’s smock, we should take a look at the tools and materials you’ll need for painting needlepoint canvases.
Without a doubt, the most common question I get about painting needlepoint canvases is “What kind of paint should I use?”.
I use Liquitex soft body acrylic paint. You can order it directly from the Liquitex website here. You may find it in local art supply shops, too. An equally good paint is Golden fluid acrylic paint. Both Liquitex and Golden paints are artist quality products. You should be able to use them straight out of the bottle.
Beware of craft acrylic paints, such as Delta Ceramcoat and FolkArt. They are of a lesser quality and it’s best to avoid them when painting needlepoint canvases. They don’t provide good coverage and they are chock full of fillers which means they have less pure pigment (color). They can have a tendency to fade over time, too – and darker colors sometimes become milky.
You’ll also need paint brushes to paint your designs onto needlepoint canvas.
My best advice is to use inexpensive brushes because you’ll wear them out quickly. Acrylic paint is hard on natural bristle brushes, so I recommend using synthetic sable bristle brushes.
There are two primary kinds of brushes you’ll find yourself using over and over again: round bristle brushes (sizes 3/0, 2/0, and 0) and bright bristle brushes (sizes 6 and 8). Round bristle brushes are exactly what they sound like – they’re round. Bright bristle brushes have a flat, squared off end with short bristles. Use the bright bristle brushes to fill in larger areas of color and use the round bristle brushes for finer details.
Acrylic paint cleans up with soap and water. Be sure to clean your brushes thoroughly after each use.
An alcohol based thinning agent is the best option for thinning acrylic paint.
Paint for painting needlepoint canvases should be the consistency of half-and-half/light cream. (If you don’t drink coffee or like to cook, think liquid foundation make-up. ;)) If your paints become too thick, you’ll need to thin them with an alcohol based thinning agent. Liquitex and Golden both have specially formulated products that work well to help their paints retain its opacity.
In a pinch, you may use water to thin acrylic paint, but it will become more translucent and you will need to apply more coats to get smooth coverage.
When painting needlepoint canvases, you’re bound to make mistakes – or have paint drips – every now and again.
So how do you “erase” those boo-boos?
Gesso to the rescue!
Gesso is an opaque artist’s medium. It is commonly used as a primer – or base coat – before applying paint to canvas. It comes in white, cream, and black, but I use white the most often. It works very much like “White Out” liquid paper. (And speaking of White Out… do NOT use it on your needlepoint canvases. Not only does it become discolored over time, but it will eventually flake off.)
Thin the Gesso with water until it is the consistency of half-and-half cream, then paint it onto the canvas where you want to change – or delete – a color. Allow each coat to dry before applying another one. It will take multiple coats of Gesso to cover darker colors.
If you have an accidental splatter or drip, grab some rubbing alcohol and work quickly with a clean soft rag. You should be able to get most of the paint off the canvas.
And last, but not least, you’ll need blank needlepoint canvas.
My preference is Zweigart mono canvas. That’s the kind of canvas most needlepoint designers use – and it’s what you’ll find in your local needlepoint shop. Zweigart canvas features an orange thread in the selvedge. Here’s a picture for you…
Make sure that you paint the design onto the canvas so that the selvedge edge is on either the right or the left side. Needlepoint canvas, just like any other fabric, has a grain and you want to stitch with it – not against it. 😉
Use a waterproof pen to transfer your design to the canvas.
Sakura Pigma Micron pens are my all-time favorites. I’ve never had a problem with them bleeding or smearing, unlike other pens that claim to be permanent.
I use sizes 005 and 01 to draw directly onto the canvas. (Remember to use a light touch when transferring design lines. You don’t want heavy black lines that will be hard to cover.)
I recommend size 05 for drawing your original design. The nib is thick enough to create lines that you can easily see through the canvas mesh.
Alrighty, my friend… that brings us to the end of this overview of what you need to get started painting your own needlepoint canvases.
Thank you ever so much for dropping by. Until next time, happy stitching! 🙂