33 Creative Canvas Painting Ideas in 2024

Last Updated on Jul 18th 2024
canvas painting ideas

Looking for great canvas painting ideas? Whatever your age or skill level, painting and creating art for the canvas can be a fun way to build skills, explore materials and experiment with new techniques.

The texture and durability of canvas adds substance to even the most basic painting. Not only that, but it’s easy to hang and display your work when it’s done. 

What makes a good canvas painting? What is the best thing to paint on a canvas? Whether you are a novice or a seasoned artist or looking for a fun activity to do with your kids, we’ve rounded up a range of great techniques and processes that will have you loving what you create.

Most of them can be done with any variety of canvas, including inexpensive canvas boards and widely available budget friendly paints like poster paint, acrylics and watercolors. All of them are ripe with creative fun for artists of all skill levels.

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Easy Canvas Painting Ideas for Beginners

1. Take an Art Class

One of the best ways to get acquainted with new painting styles and techniques is to take an art class. They are offered in all sorts of genres, materials and styles, which means they are a great source for canvas painting ideas even if you’re just beginning your journey as an artist.

You can find art classes in Columbus, art classes in New Jersey and art classes in Dallas, or just search for art classes near you. You can learn everything from watercolor painting for beginners to how to start oil painting.

painting instructor in art class
via Classpop!

2. Abstract Landscapes

One of the best forays into canvas painting ideas for beginners are landscapes, which allow a lot of freedom to explore different techniques for rendering. Even if you haven’t painted before, abstract landscapes concentrate far more on line and color to create an image, which means they are great for novices.

Using watercolor or acrylic paints, begin with a horizon line across the canvas and fill in both sky and ground in washes of color.  Landscapes also make a great canvas painting idea for your living room.

3. Nature Prints

These fun canvas prints use paint or ink and natural materials like flowers, branches, pinecones, seed pods and other found objects dipped in paint. Dip flowers taken from your garden in paint and arrange them into a bouquet or repeating pattern on the canvas, no rendering needed.

The results are a beautiful and aesthetic canvas painting idea. 

4. Starry Night

One of Vincent Van Gogh’s most famous paintings is a wash of swirls and spots of light. Paint a canvas with deep black, blue or purple, then use white and yellow paint to create constellations, auroras, swirls and pin pricks of light.

5. Splatter Painting

The preferred technique of famous artist Jackson Pollock, this painting technique is also great for beginners who might be apprehensive to apply brush to canvas. His painting, Number 17A made in 1948 sold at an auction for $200 million and is one of the most expensive paintings ever sold!

His process often involved holding a brush or stick ripped liberally in paint and then dripping across a large canvas on the floor. You can also add paint to a small cup and use a splattering method of drops. This is a great large canvas painting idea for beginners.

Splatter painting on canvas idea
via Canva

6. Mixed Media

Like collage, this fun canvas painting idea uses elements adhered to the canvas. In this case, you can choose more 3-D items. Great choices include buttons, beads, hardware pieces or old costume jewelry.

Paint the background of the canvas a solid color and use an adhesive like E-6000 to add 3-D elements randomly or in a desired shape. 

7. Ombre Canvas

Another easy and aesthetic canvas painting idea and exercise in color blending is to create an ombre canvas in your favorite colors. Begin with your darkest shade at the top or bottom and lighten toward the opposite end, adding more white to each level and blending into each new tier of color.

This is a great large canvas painting idea for beginners if you’re looking for art for your walls.

8. Tape Landscape

A fun way to render a landscape painting is to use painter's tape to tape-off segments of the canvas as you go, beginning at the bottom and working your way up, using different shades of paint and brush strokes as you go.

When you pull the tape away, you will have perfect straight and defined lines for a fun graphic look. 

9. Collage

Another fun canvas painting idea for beginners that doesn’t require drawing skills is creating a collage. Choose a selection of decorative papers, book pages, newspaper or magazine images and other materials to collage on a canvas using Mod Podge.

You can also add dashes of color with watercolors or acrylics in spots or wash the whole canvas in a tinted watercolor wash.

Mixed media collage artwork
via Canva

10. Word Art

A fun and easy canvas painting idea for adults is to create a custom piece of word art. You can freehand the lettering or use a stamp or stencil to create your letters. Paint the background of the canvas a solid shade.

Or use something similar like all-white or all-black to make the words really stand out. You can also combine it with other paint techniques like landscapes, splatters or ombre. This technique is a great canvas painting idea for your living room. 

11. Paint by Numbers

If you are looking for a way to learn composition and color, try a paint by numbers kit as an easy beginner canvas painting idea. Kits are available in various subjects and for many skill levels, from very detailed scenes and images to kid-friendly large sections. 

12. Stencils

Another great canvas painting idea for beginners is to use stencils to create images on canvas. You can buy decorating stencils at home and craft stores or create your own by printing out your image on cardstock.

This is great for painting things like letters or repeating patterns.

13. Still Life

Long the go-to subject of many painters, particularly in early work, is creating still lifes from everyday objects. Fruit, dishes and flowers are always popular subjects.

Assemble a still life near your canvas and use it as an opportunity to explore shading, light and color. While it may take a while to get an exact rendering of the objects in front of you, the exercise itself can help you understand the greater logistics of getting a still-life just right.  

Still life painting
via Canva

Best Canvas Painting Ideas for Adults 

14. Paint and Sips

Paint and sips are not only a great social outing but also a fun way to learn and practice your art skills. They typically are based around a style of painting or a certain subject, in which everyone enjoys creating new work while knocking back some cocktails.

You can find paint and sips in Orange County, paint and sips in Atlanta, paint and sips in Chicago or paint and sips near you. Sip and paint ideas include everything from landscapes and portraits to beautiful botanicals. 

15. Photo Transfer

A fun way to add imagery to a canvas is to use a photo transfer technique. Use a printed image and some acetone (nail polish remover works too) to transfer a printed image onto a canvas. For a custom canvas painting idea, paint over and around the image. 

16. Resin Art

Resin canvas art is a great way to create a piece that has a hard polished finish to it. Just mix paint with a two part resin in a paper cup and then pour the resin onto the surface of the canvas, using a brush or wooden stick to manipulate the colored resin and allow it to dry overnight.

This technique works with a number of paint materials, including powdered pigment, acrylics and inks. 

17. Pour Art

Pour art or pour painting forgoes the control of brush strokes in favor of fluidity and motion to create an image. Place your acrylic paints in small cups and then apply liberally to the canvas, using the motion of moving the canvas to manipulate paint on the surface for a fun canvas painting idea for adults.

Pour painting on canvas
via Canva

18. Embroidery Art

Because of its hearty weight, using canvas is a great opportunity to add embroidered details to a painting or to create an image that uses only embroidery. A stretched canvas can help hold the canvas taught like an embroidery hoop while you add detailing with embroidery floss or yarn. 

19. Natural Paints

A great canvas painting idea for adults is to use all-natural inks or paints to create your imagery, which you can create from a number of materials, including powdered stone, sand and shells that have color pigment in them.

Or use crushed or boiled vegetables, flowers and berries to create saturated natural colors.

20. Self-Portrait

One of the best ways to begin painting portraits is to start with your own. Be they Picasso-style abstract portraits or detailed photo-realism, use a photograph or selfie as a reference and try to paint your own image.

If you are having trouble with details, focus on capturing the mood and feel of your visage over the exact reality.

21. Pointillism Technique

The French Impressionists put his fun technique on the map, when artists like George Seurat and Paul Signac preferred using tiny dots of color instead of conventional brushstrokes.

The effect is stunning up close where you can see each component of the overall image. For a great canvas painting idea, create a simple image out of dots made with the tip of a brush with acrylic or oil paints. 

pointillism painting idea
via Canva

Best Canvas Painting Ideas for Kids

22. Sponge Painting

 A great way to introduce kids to painting and fun canvas painting ideas is to use inexpensive poster paint or acrylics applied to shapes cut from kitchen sponges.

They can be simple and geometric or more detailed like animals, hearts and clouds. The sponges will soak up the paint and apply it to the canvas, which can be easier for small hands to manipulate than a paintbrush.  

23. Vegetable Stamps

Another easy beginner painting technique for kids is to create stamps from items that may already be in your fridge. Cut an apple in half and apply acrylic paint to the flat side and let kids use it as a stamp on canvas. Or cut a potato in half and carve a shape like a heart or star for stamping.

24. Tissue Paper Painting

A fun way to add texture and color to a canvas for kids is to use some glue (Elmer’s mixed with water or Mod Podge works perfectly) to adhere strips and bits of tissue paper to a canvas in a collage process.

The paper is semi-transparent, so you can layer different colors and apply it over drawn or painted images that will still show through. 

25. Tie Dye Art

Get a funky retro colorful painting using the time-honored technique usually reserved for T-shirts. Dye your canvas using fabric dye and then stretch on a frame. Or use it as a fun wall hanging unframed. 

tie dye canvas painting
via Canva

26. Monogram or Name Art

A fun canvas painting idea for kids is to create name signage for their bedroom or play area.Use a stencil or wooden applique letters adhered to the canvas, then allow kids to paint the letters and surrounding canvas. 

27. Pom Pom Art

You can find small pom poms at various arts and crafts stores and online for a steal. Use these colorful elements to add texture and dimension to flat canvas pieces or create an entire image out of them. They come in various sizes and can be stuck down easily with Elmer’s glue.

28. Blot Paintings

A fun guided activity and canvas painting idea for kids is adding some random paint or ink blots to a canvas and then allowing the imagination to run wild, creating a scene around them. Use a brush or paint pen to fill in details and turn the blots into a recognizable image.

29. Crayon Drip Paintings 

Melt some old crayons in the microwave for this kid-friendly fun canvas painting idea (cutting them up or shredding them makes this process easier.) Pour the wax along the top of the canvas and allow it to drip down the surface, changing the color used as you go for a gorgeous rainbow effect. 

melted crayon canvas drip painting idea
via Canva

30. Graffiti Canvas

A great kids' birthday party or sleepover activity is to use a large canvas as a graffiti wall. Use some colorful paint markers as a way to allow guests to draw images and write messages. Hang it on the wall as an enduring keepsake.

31. Blow Painting

A fun variation on splatter painting, blow paintings are a great way to get colorful and abstract images. Just use water-thinned acrylic paint dripped onto a canvas. Allow your child to blow through a straw to manipulate the paint into various shapes and combinations. 

32. Ice Painting

A great activity for toddlers is using ice cubes to paint. Just add some food color to water and freeze in an ice tray for each color. When frozen, pop them out and allow your little one to use the ice cubes on the canvas to create. This makes a great summertime outdoor activity. 

33. Button Art

A great way to put a bunch of spare buttons to use is to turn them into art. Use some glue to create shapes and patterns out of buttons of various sizes. This approach also works for beads. Use acrylic paints to go over the beads for a fun textured look. 

button art on canvas
via Canva

Any of these creative canvas painting ideas are perfect for working alone or in groups and can be a great way to fill your home with works of custom and original art, whatever your skill and experience level as an artist.

For even more fun art ideas, check out other experiences happening on Classpop!