A hand putting plaster on canvas to make textured canvas art.

Last Updated on November 4, 2023 by bethrmartin

Textured canvas art is everywhere on Instagram nowadays, and it’s easy to see why. The aesthetic is refined and modern, and even better, it doesn’t require much skill or tons of materials.

We live in an old house in Charleson, SC, so that means we have no shortage of cracked plaster walls and the need for joint compound. Luckily, textured canvas art is an entertaining way to turn leftover materials into new, beautiful wall decor!

I’ll walk you through everything you need to know to design your own textured art, and who knows, maybe you can even create an online business with your new skills.

So grab your putty knife and get ready to feel like an artist!

Getting Started

Before I start working on any art project, I like to know where it will end up. There’s nothing worse than finishing a giant project and realizing you don’t have the space for it in your home!

Choose a canvas that will fit a specific place in your home. You may also be working on art to gift or sell, but I recommend becoming comfortable with this technique before committing too much.

If you want to start extra quickly, I recommend beginning with a smaller canvas – anything 12″ x 12″ or smaller will be best. Working first with a smaller canvas will let you experiment with textures, the thickness of the joint compound, and shapes without wasting too much material.

Textured canvas painting is straightforward and fun, but understanding how to layer the plaster can take a little time. The worst thing that can happen is your whole design will crack, but with these steps and a little practice, you can avoid that.

Also, before you start, consider how you plan to hang your piece.

Depending on the size of your canvas, your work may be heavy, so plan on using anchor bolts or screwing into a stud. For a modern look, you can also lean your piece up against a wall on either a mantel or a floating shelf.

Your Textured Canvas Painting Materials List

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How To Create DIY Textured Canvas Art

Step 1: Select And Prepare Your Canvas

Choose what size painting you want to make, then find a canvas that works for you. Your canvas should be made from cotton canvas fabric and stretched on plywood stretchers so it has enough strength to hold your painting.

Your canvas must be primed for the paint and joint compound to adhere to the surface properly. If you purchase the canvas option that I recommend, it’s pre-primed, so it saves you that step. Otherwise, you will need to paint your entire canvas, edges and all, with a coat or two of either gesso or a standard white house paint.

Whether you want to create a small series or a huge textured canvas, the cost to create this project doesn’t change too much.

If you don’t want to buy too many new art supplies for a new hobby, an old canvas from a thrift store will work fine as long as you prime it. Or, if you are extra handy, feel free to build a DIY canvas.

When creating a very large textured canvas, add additional structure bars to the back of your canvas. Skipping this step will put too much weight on the canvas and cause the joint compound to crack.

Your canvas needs to be tight on the frame to hold your painting correctly. If your canvas fabric feels a little loose, add a few wood shims to the back corners of the frame until it’s nice and tight.

The back side of a stretched canvas is shown with shims at each corner for support.

Decide if you want to cover the edges of your canvas with plaster or leave them raw. If you want them to stay clean, use painter’s tape to cover any area you don’t want to have texture.

You can also tape off a border like I did below:

Step 2: Time For Painting

Now is the time for the fun part – let’s paint!

If you are using the joint compound I recommend, then you are ready to go, but if the one you selected requires mixing, then mix it based on the manufacturer’s recommendations. The texture should be very smooth with no lumps.

Spritz the entire canvas (front and back) with your water bottle. This step will help prevent cracking in the future. Then, using your palette knife or putty knife, add a thin layer of joint compound to the entire surface of your canvas.

With your knife, press firmly down on the joint compound to get an even coat and work out any bubbles that might appear. Now, you are ready to get creative and start painting.

There is no wrong answer here, so have fun with the process and let your imagination run wild with your painting. Use your textured trowels, your hands, paint brushes, a potato masher, or any tools you can imagine to move the joint compound around the canvas.

Create modern shapes, make your textured canvas look like the moon’s surface, or cover the whole thing with abstract textures. Express yourself on your canvas art painting however you want!

As soon as you are happy with your painting and the textures you have achieved, you must remove any tape (if used). If you wait too long to remove the painter’s tape, you risk pulling up your art when removing the tape.

With a damp (not wet) cloth, wipe away any bit of the painting or texture that you aren’t happy with. This should be just used to clean up small mistakes and changes that you aren’t quite happy with.

Step 3: Let Your Project Dry

This type of joint compound takes a while to dry, so set it to the side and let it dry for a few days.

Ensure you let your textured art dry on a flat, shaded surface. Leaning the painting against the wall or too much sunlight will put it at risk of cracking.

Be patient with the process of this step. Anything that speeds up the dry time can put your project at risk for cracks, and no one wants their art to be ruined!

Step 4 (Optional): Add Color

This step is completely optional, but once your painting has dried for a few days, you can add color. Use acrylic or house paint to coat the whole canvas or just make certain shapes pop.

Painting is a great way to add extra character to your final piece.

Step 5: Seal Your Work

If you don’t choose to paint your whole canvas, then it’s essential to seal your work. Without sealant, your project will be dusty and will be prone to chipping – so don’t skip this step.

I prefer to use a matte finish so it keeps the integrity of the original art. Anything too shiny will make the painting feel plasticky.

In thin layers, spray the entire painting with the sealant. I prefer to use at least two coats, but refer to the specific paint you are using.

Step 6: Add A Modern Frame

Framing is optional, but a floating frame can make your diy textured canvas art look extremely polished and professional. A floating frame for a canvas is easy to make and looks very modern and clean.

Other Ideas To Experiment With

Consider creating a diptych or triptych (two or three canvases of the same size that work together to look like one piece of art).

Paint your canvas a solid color first, then add joint compound on top. Or, add acrylic paint to your joint compound for a completely new look!

What other ideas do you have?

Final Thoughts

Isn’t it amazing what you can create with some simple joint compound, a canvas, and a few tools? Anyone can turn a canvas into a work of art that you can proudly display in your home or share with the world.

DIY textured canvas painting is versatile and forgiving, perfect for beginners, seasoned artists, and even kids. Whether you want to revamp your home decor, create personalized gifts, or explore selling your unique creations, this craft offers endless possibilities.

Don’t be afraid to let your creativity shine and tell your unique story through your texture art. It’s all about self-expression and exploring your creative instincts. At the end of the day, adding your own art to your home will make your space feel more cozy.

But if you need some inspiration, check out social media for tons of new ideas and a jolt of creativity!

Thank you so much for reading, and I hope you found this how-to guide helpful. If you did, please check out my DIY Plant Propagation Guide!

As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions!

So grab your putty knife and let your artistic spirit run wild.