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What To Do With Practice Canvases

Practice Canvases


So, you have been painting for a while and you have tons of canvases lying around. Some you love and want to keep, others not so much. Canvases take up a lot of real estate and can quickly become a storage problem if you live in a small space. Below you will find some ideas about what to do with practice canvases.


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Canvas Paper

If you are just starting out on your art journey and are practicing painting techniques it might be a better idea to use canvas paper. Canvas paper is cheaper and easier to store. Canvas paper comes in pads of 10 or more sheets and you can purchase it at most art supply stores. This is the one I use most often. I also sometimes use a mixed media pad for practicing. You need to tape each sheet down to a board to prevent buckling of the paper when it gets wet from the paint. Most paper will dry flat if taped to a board.


acrylic paper taped to a board




Take Pictures and Notes

Take pictures of your practice canvases before getting rid of them. You can use these photos to keep a record of your progress and you may be surprised at how far you have progressed. You can also take notes about each practice piece. Which colors worked well together, what techniques were easy and which ones you need to work on. Also, you can take notes on how you mixed the particular colors for the piece and what type and brand of paint you used. You can refer back to these for future works.



Paint Over Practice Canvases

You can gesso over practice canvases that you don’t want to keep. Check out my post on How to Gesso a Canvas for tips on how to do this. You may need to use several coats  to cover up the artwork.  Give them a light sanding in between coats. You can also add some acrylic paint to the gesso to help cover up darker paint. 


Fun for Kids

You can also cover the canvas with chalk board paint and use it for a note board in your office or kitchen. This chalkboard canvas would be great for a kids play room. You can also let the kids paint over your old practice canvases. It’s a great way to get kids interested in art and keep them entertained. Be sure to use non toxic paint when letting children experiment with art. Most children’s paints are also easier to remove from little fingers and tables.



Some canvases will have a bit more texture on them and cannot be sanded smooth. You can make great wall hangings with these. Paint over them and use stick on embellishments, buttons, glitter, stick on letters, etc, to create a new piece of art. 


streaks of paint with text overlay what to do with practice canvases



You need proper storage for the paintings you do want to keep.  Store gallery wrapped canvases upright and covered to keep them free from dust and dirt. You can use acid free paper to cover them or purchase or make cloth bags to protect them. Stand them in a corner of a closet or some other out of the way place to keep them from being damaged.

Canvas boards should be laid flat to keep them from warping. I like to put a sheet of glassine between the boards to keep them from sticking together and protect the paint. 


Have fun coming up with ways to re-purpose used canvases. Every piece of work is important on your art journey. It shows how far you have come and how much you have learned. 

Thanks for reading.

Digital signature Marilyn with butterfly




3 thoughts on “What To Do With Practice Canvases”

  1. Diana Bushley Libby

    I find myself coming to this site often and have read of your journey. I admire your tenacity and grit. I recognise it. I am 77 and try to find time to paint everyday. I have been disabled with spinal issues for 15 years but still have the fire. I have never done anything like this. Before. My hat off to you. I am working on a 16 x 20 of Portland headlight, commissioned by Geo. Washington. It has a Bald Eagle. It is for gift a. Gift.
    No interest in selling any longer. Thank and have a Great, creative day,

    1. Hi Diana; I am so glad you are enjoy this site. Your painting sounds amazing! You sound amazing too! 🙂 I hope you continue to enjoy painting for many more years. Have a wonderful day!

  2. When you paint over a previous painting with gesso am I right in assuming the painting has been acrylic ….or does it matter ?

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