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How to paint with watercolors on canvas and add zentangles

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How to paint with watercolors on canvas and add zentangles

You can paint with watercolors on canvas, it works very well for wet into wet techniques for example. The challenge with painting with watercolors on canvas is that it is difficult to layer watercolors as the previous layers will lift too easily, the advantage is that you can carve lights by lifting up colors.

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Here is how to paint with watercolors on canvas and add zentangles.

drawing with pencils on canvas

Start with a rough outline of your drawing with pencil on canvas

painting a light watercolor wash for background

 A good way to start is to paint a light wash on the canvas, here I mixed a light lime green.

add visual textures with alcohol on a wet watercolor wash on canvas

As your watercolor wash is still wet, you can sprinkle some alcohol to add visual texture.

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.

Yarka St. Petersburg Professional Watercolor Pans

Same palette of traditional colors the great masters used a century ago. Liquid-poured means semi-moist pans respond instantly to a wet brush. 24 pans in plastic case. Also individual pans. – Master Set

fixing watercolor on canvas with gel medium

As this background would lift very easily, you can fix it by painting plain acrylic medium on top. It will move a bit the paint but once dry will be permanent once dried.

layering watercolor on canvas to paint foliage wet into wet

You can then paint another layer on top, here I am painting the foliage letting the colors mix wet into wet.

wet into wet painting technique with watercolors on canvas

I also am painting the trunks wet into wet

I am a Blick Art Materials affiliate and I receive a small compensation for sales. That does not effect in any way the cost of the purchaser’s order but it helps me keeping the content of this blog free.


Copic Original Markers

There’s nothing like the Copic double-ended marker for expert blending, painting, and tone control. Use them for fine art projects, calligraphy, and more. The broad nib offers coverage for larger areas. For detailed work, flip over to the fine nib.
adding zentangle patterns on the trees

You can then start adding zentangles on top of your painting. Here, I did choose designs that had a signification related to trees.

zentangle trees

At this point in the painting, it is a good idea to stop for a while and assess the results. For example here I find the trees color to be too pink and blue, so I am adding a wash of green so the color scheme works better for me.

leaves patterns on zentangle forest painting

I did add zentangle to the lower part of the painting with foliage related designs

Watercolor and mixed media on canvas zentangle forest, original painting by North Vancouver artist Sandrine Pelissier

Forest Quilt,
Watercolor and mixed media on canvas
12 x 39 inches

buy prints by North Vancouver artist Sandrine Pelissier

Original is sold, buy prints at Fine Art America

Comments (26)

  1. Ginette

    J’aime beacoup. Merci de partager.

    1. Merci Ginette 🙂 Je suis contente que cela te plaise. Si tu as des questions je me ferait un plaisir de répondre en Français.

  2. Lizzy

    I absolutely love your work. Trees really inspire me – and the patterns on the bark are v similar to the shadows I paint into mine. I have been painting watercolour directly onto large canvas for a while and much prefer it to paper. It’s just easier to control and I am so pleased with the result. I am concerned that when I’m selling them they will fade – do you use a clear acrylic over them ? I wasn’t sure what the medium was you are mentioning?

    1. Thanks Lizzy, yes I used acrylic medium on too of the watercolor so it would stay on the canvas and not lift off. I also varnished the painting at the end.

  3. Betty Wilson

    I just love this unconventional but simple idea. May I share it with my watercolor students? I love it!!!

    1. Thanks Betty :), yes you are more than welcome to share it with your students, just be sure that you cite the source.

  4. […] You might also be interested in : How to paint with watercolors on canvas and add zentangles: Fores… […]

  5. […] Forest Quilt […]

  6. Penny Heflin

    Love your work because you are not afraid to try different things, do you use regular store bought alcohol that you find anywhere? and how do I learn Zentangle? thanks for sharing your beautiful works of art.
    Penny Heflin

    1. Thanks Penny 🙂
      Yes I am using rubbing alcohol from the drugstore.

  7. […] Previous post: Watercolor and Zentangle painting on canvas, Forest Quilt […]

  8. […] Watercolor and Zentangle painting on canvas, Forest Quilt […]

  9. Caroline Wickham

    Sandrine, I am a textile artist who went to art school then design school, in Ontario. Your work, your sharing inspires me to keep on, to not give up, to experiment until satisfied! Thank you!

    1. Thanks Caroline, great to hear that 🙂

  10. Tinkerbell

    I am a huge fan! Im still trying to perfect my watercolor work. And yes I have tried using it on Canvas but the challenge of the water resistant surface was quite a hurdle. I will try the wet on wet technique on a small one and see how it goes!

    I love this piece…:)

    1. Thanks Tinkerbell :), let me know how it goes.

  11. You could put some absorbable ground on the canvas before putting down the watercolors!

    1. Yes, I tried it once but I think I prefer the more water resistant surface of the canvas, it reminds me a bit of painting on yupo paper.

  12. I love the creativity in your work, thank you!

    1. Thanks Janice 🙂

  13. Diane O

    Lovely effects! What did you use for the Zentangle designs? Ink? Marker?

    1. Thanks Diane, I tried lots of different markers and brands and what I did find works the best was Copic markers and Sharpies ultra fine points.

      1. Diane O

        Thank you. I’ve used Sharpies with my acrylics and they worked pretty well. Obviously, they work well with watercolors, too 🙂

  14. BEAUTIFUL…JUST BEAUTIFUL

  15. Christiane Kingsley

    Beautiful, Sandrine!
    May I ask what kind of canvas you are using for the watercolour? I did not realize that you could apply watercolour on top of gel medium for acrylics! Fascinating.
    Thank you for sharing.

    1. Thanks Christiane 🙂 I used a regular canvas, the same kind you would use with acrylics and oils.The challenge with painting with watercolors on canvas is that you can’t layer the colors, they will lift of the surface. It is working well for wet in wet techniques.

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