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5 of The Best Types of Paints to Use on Canvas Today

paints for canvas

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Painting is a fantastic hobby which I have pursued in my leisure for years now. It is a productive way to vent out my emotions and creativity.

I started painting on canvases about 4 years ago. Now, I have given up my sketchbooks just because of the experience I get on a canvas.

QUICK COMPARISON: Our Top 3 Picks For Paints to Use on Canvas

  • The colors are strong and bright
  • Great for multilayered painting
  • Pigments are of great quality
  • The color sticks well to the canvas
  • Mixes well with other colors
  • Sticks excellently with brushes
  • Great for working on shades
  • It works great for softening, blending and shading
  • There are eight colors in the set

But paint behaves very differently on canvases and to many these mediums maybe new as well.

Featured Image via Anna Kolosyuk@anko_

Therefore, it’s extremely important to get the right paint for the job. You may already know that acrylic and oil paints work on canvas. But it can be confusing to choose the right medium for yourself.

So, here are some paints that I have fallen in love with over the years. Give it a read!

Best Types of Paints to Use on Canvas

Our Top PickOur Top Pickhstcstbl-table__imageLiquitex BASICS
  • The color sticks well to the canvas
  • Mixes well with other colors
  • Sticks excellently with brushes
1st Runner-Up1st Runner-Uphstcstbl-table__imageWinsor & Newton Acrylic Set
  • The colors are strong and bright
  • Great for multilayered painting
  • Pigments are of great quality
2nd Runner-Up2nd Runner-Uphstcstbl-table__imageGolden Open Acrylics
  • Great for working on shades
  • It works great for softening, blending and shading
  • There are eight colors in the set
hstcstbl-table__imageOld Holland Classic Oil
  • Every color is completely lightfast
  • These paints also last a lot longer than others
  • The paint stretches quite a lot
hstcstbl-table__imageHolbein Duo Aqua Water-Soluble Oils
  • These colors meet industry standards
  • Eliminates all the harmful chemicals and toxins
  • The paint performs excellently

best paint for canvas

Image via Jade Stephens@jadestephens

  1. Liquitex BASICS

Liquitex BASICS 48 Tube Acrylic Paint Set, 22ml
  • WHY BASICS; Liquitex invented artists' acrylics back in 1955...
  • HIGHEST QUALITY PIGMENTS Basics uses the the same high...
  • VERSATILE Basics acrylic dries quickly and can be cleaned up...
  • ADJUSTABLE Basics comes in a range of opacities, and can be...

If you are getting started with painting and want to keep the budget on down low this is your best bet.

I used this acrylic paint set for quite sometime when I started and still use it from time to time for my side projects. The reason being is that this budget variant doesn’t make too many compromises in quality to achieve the price tag.

The color sticks well to the canvas and is viscous. What I love the most about it is that it also mixes well with other colors and mediums which gives me the modularity to get specific colors while painting.


But keep in mind that you’ll have to experiment quite a bit for it because the pigments don’t mix as expected all the time.

Unlike other cheap variants, this paint works incredibly well in layers and even when it’s thinned out with water, it sticks to the canvas well.

Due to its consistency, it sticks excellently with brushes. I use white horsehair flat brushes for most of the painting and I am amazed at how well it all works out. It functioned well with nylon paint brushes as well.

For a beginner, I don’t think there is any better option in the acrylic paint market. It sticks well to canvas, works fabulously in layers and sticks well to brushes. All you have to get used to is mixing colors on palettes. That’s more of a problem for veterans than for newcomers in my humble opinion. But even as an experienced individual, I have no complaints with this paint.

  1. Winsor & Newton Acrylic Set

Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colour Paint Sketchers' Pocket...
  • Winsor & Newton Cotman Water Colours are a range of water...
  • Cotman Water Colours possess good transparency, excellent...
  • This popular pocket-sized plastic box features an integral...
  • This water colour set contains a pocket brush and 12 Cotman...

This paint satisfies everyone’s need even though it’s harder on the wallet than the previous entry.

Winsor & Newton has been a part of my acrylic set for a long time because I love how consistent it performs on canvas. The colors are strong and bright and work fantastically when mixed as well.

The color retains incredibly well on canvas which is great for multilayered painting. The pigments are of great quality and I am astounded that it’s as good as some of my oil colors. It totally justifies its price.

Even though it’s meant for more experienced and serious artists because of its price and quality, I’d recommend it to beginners as well because it reduces the steepness of the learning curve of painting – especially, on canvas.


The colors are very clean, behave truly on canvas, and it has a certain satin texture. That may not work with some art styles but artists around the world admire such finish of acrylic paints. Even I do.

It comes with 10 colors and it’s enough to create most other colors, especially because the color mixes so well and accurately. One gripe I do have is that this paint is softer than my liking. If it grinds your gears as well, I’ll advise getting some texture paste for medium. In my experience, it’s the most straightforward solution to the problem.

Even though this set is meant for students, I think this is well suited for professional use as well. The consistency and the grip leave no room for asking more. I see this set as a budget option for professionals. It can very well be used for any side or personal project.

  1. Golden Open Acrylics

Golden Open Acrylic Landscape, Set Of 8 Multi
  • Golden Open Slow-Drying set
  • Landscape Color Set
  • set of 8
  • The Open line features a relaxed working property

This paint set is great for working on shades. It works great for softening, blending and shading as it’s clean and bright. I use this for detailed works that most people call a “touch-up”.

Golden Open Acrylics dries more like oil paint – slower and giving you more time for working on it. It is a welcomed attribute because I use this paint for working on dried layers of paint when I need more time to work out the details. That’s why I think that adding this paint is so necessary for your arsenal to be complete.

There are eight colors in the set which is enough for creating most colors. The colors blend very well and you can work it to make translucent spreads very easily. The pigments are of great quality as well, providing strong and consistent colors.


Most of the “touch-up” work needs a lot of mixing of colors to make it consistent with your primary application. And I found these colors to be excellent for that job as the pigments are of top-notch quality and leave no room for complaint.

I recommend this paint set for working secondary and tertiary layers only. Mostly for shading, blending, and glazing. The properties these colors have is perfect for that. Now as a beginner you may skip it. There are way many things to work on before you start perfecting “touch-up”.

But if you are already in the game for a while now and are serious about making your artwork more vibrant, then I can’t recommend Golden Open Acrylics more. Especially it works so much like oil paints. It has no comparison.

  1. Old Holland Classic Oil

Now we are moving to the oil paints. Oil paint is the best way to put your ideas on a canvas. And it’s just not me, many artists and professionals agree as well.

It’s just the way the oil paint blends and behaves on canvas that makes it the perfect experience with the best results.

Old Holland is one of the oldest brands of paint. It was established in the 17th century and has been used by several famous artists, like Van Gogh.

Of course, these colors don’t mess around. Starting from the pigments to the viscosity and consistency, there’s nothing that tops Old Holland in quality and experience.

There are no cheap fillers in this color, all you’ll get is the best pigments for the most accurate colors and consistent spread and behavior. Not only this, these colors don’t lose color and texture over time. In the community, it’s called lightfastness.


Except for Cremnitz White and Madder Lakes, every color is completely lightfast and even these two are almost lightfast as well.

May it be landscapes, still lifes or figures, there’s nothing you can’t do with these paints as they offer transparent as well as opaque paints with excellent pigments.

These paints also last a lot longer than others as the medium has fantastic tinting strength and although it’s expensive, at least it’ll be quite sometime before these run out.

The paint stretches quite a lot which not only saves paint but also is easy to paint with and looks more natural and pleasing. As expected, the spread and mixing are fantastic as well, although I’d recommend getting natural hair brushes for the best results. Old Holland deserves the best anyway.

  1. Holbein Duo Aqua Water-Soluble Oils

Holbein Duo Aqua Water-Soluble Oil Color Studio Set of 20 20...
  • Oil paint, soluble in water. You can do or weaken or soften...

This is the modern day standard for oil paints. Holbein Duo Aqua Water-Soluble Oils are meant for professional use through and through, and it screams quality in every way possible.

Unlike most oil paints which use linseed oils for spread and turpentine for the wash, these oils are crafted so that it can be used with water as well, as the name suggests.

These colors meet industry standards on every term and undergo rigorous testing procedures, like thermal stability, adhesion and color tone. It even undergoes bacterial testings.

It even eliminates all the harmful chemicals and toxins that are associated with most oil paints and gives a healthy experience for the modern-day user.

If all of this sounds too scientific and less artistic to you, don’t worry. The paint performs excellently and is worth every penny of its high price tag. The paint is thick and has a beautiful consistency that feels mesmerizing on the first touch of a paint brush.

The colors are more vivid and expressive than some of the other brands but I don’t see that as a negative trait. In my experience, it brings more life to my creation. It mixes accurately as well and it comes in a variety of colors, so you can go as close as you can get to your imagination.

The color even blends well within different layers and it comes with a dryer solution which, if added, makes the paint dry faster. Perfect for people who don’t want to wait for the oils to dry up. But I, for one, love the wait because in my opinion the color seems more vibrant and blends better when I let it dry naturally.

best paints to use on canvas

Image via Steve Johnson@steve_j

What to Look for in the Best Types of Paints

All the brands I have mentioned either are acrylic paints or oil colors. These are two types of colors that work perfectly on a canvas.

While acrylic dries up faster and is perfect for more punchy works of arts, oils blend better and are excellent for any kind of work. I prefer oil more for the experience, the freedom of experimentation, and the way it blends and works with layers.

Oil colors are more viscous and stick to the paintbrush better as well. One thing to keep in mind if you are a beginner is that acrylic paints work with water whereas oil paints need linseed oil for painting.

Although as I mentioned there are few brands of oil paint that works with water, I’d recommend using oil instead as it spreads more evenly.

There are mostly two grades of colors you’ll find in the store – student and professional. While student grade paints are cheaper and perfect for new learners, their pigments are of cheaper quality and mix inaccurately.

While professional grade paints have vibrant and strong pigments and mix splendidly accurate.

Final Words

For a beginner, I’d recommend to try both kinds of paints on canvas and to find the medium that represents your ideas the best.

With that, I hope this guide was helpful to you in your artistic endeavors.

Happy painting!

paints for canvas

Image via Kelli Tungay@kellitungay

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