Black canvas can be an intimidating thing to work with for new artists, but once you get started on it you'll start believing that the white canvas people are the weird ones. We've gathered some tips and tricks to painting on black canvas that are sure to make your attempts at painting on black canvas a much easier experience.
There are certainly a ton of things that can be done with black canvas and it's a great thing to add to your tool set, particularly if you enjoy creating dark and dramatic paintings. The trouble is that such a dark canvas can absorb some of that vibrant color if used incorrectly.
If you're completely new to canvas painting then we've got everything about canvas covered already, so you might want to give that article a skim before diving into this one... But if you're ready to go, then so am I! Let's jump into this thing.
Picking your medium
The first decision that you'll need to make when staring into the inky black canvas in front of you is fairly simple, what do you want to use to color it in? Paint is likely the most common choice, but you can experiment with chalk, pastels, or even white transfer paper.
If you do decide on paint there is an endless variety. Will you use paint pens or pouring paint? Acrylic or oil-based? There is no wrong answer to the question of which medium you should use. (Except maybe charcoal. Don't try using charcoal.) Some mediums are easier to work with than others, but all of them can create beautiful paintings with a steady hand and a bit of experience.
Opaque paints only
Most paints will have a symbol that represents how opaque or translucent a certain brand or color will be. Choosing even a slightly translucent paint for a black background is just asking to have all the color sucked out of your artwork. You'll need something opaque that can stand out even against the blackest canvas.
Again, experience is going to be the biggest factor. Don't feel bad if you've chosen a color that doesn't completely work on a black canvas, If you did, or you have simply fallen in love with a translucent color, there are ways to work around it which brings us to the next step.
Create your own white
Titanium white is one of the strongest white colors available and this makes it perfect to set a background to paint on top of. This will obviously require a bit of planning since you don't want any white edges peeking out from whatever you've decided to paint, but planning isn't a dirty word!
Creating your own white background can also provide some striking effects once you get more comfortable with it. Why not paint a moon and instead of filling the whole space with white background, just create a white space for the center? Things like this can really serve to add some depth to your painting in unexpected ways!
Chalk is cool
The thing I love about using chalk on black canvas is that it's just so easy! You really don't need to worry about any of the prep work that comes with this paint or that one. Just sit down with some colors and create whatever speaks to you at the moment. You can smudge and smear and blend so easily, it's really a freeing experience to me.
The one problem that I seem to have with chalk is how sensitive it is. It's the kind of artwork that needs to be protected to the utmost degree. A little moisture in the air while it's being transported can mean the end for that piece. Get your chalk properly finished and stored. While I definitely appreciate chalk as a medium, I rarely give it my all for the sole reason that it feels so impermanent.
Paint pens are primo!
My absolute favorite way to use black canvas is to break out the paint pens. Like chalk they require little to no preparation to use, and unlike chalk they will last a very long time no matter how often your pieces are transported or exposed to the elements. As far as I'm concerned? Paint pens are the best way to use a black canvas.
You should feel free to experiment with what works for you, as I can only speak from my limited experience. Anecdotal evidence is never gospel but I'm happy to share what works best (and easiest) for me and I hope that it will serve you well as you dive into the exciting world of black canvas.