No Gesso Stretched Canvas – Oh What You Can Do!!

Did you know that Canvas Corp offers a wide range of stretched canvases without gesso?  Gesso, you know, that white stuff you find already added to stretched canvases when you buy them.  Well Canvas Corp decided to offer their canvases without the gesso, providing you with unlimited options for what you can do with them.  Here are a few things that you can do on raw canvases that you cannot do on primed canvases. Oh and you can add your own gesso in the places you want it.  Gesso is not a bad thing, it actually allows you to paint right onto it and the paint won’t absorb into the canvas, but sometimes that is just what we want to happen.

1.  Misting onto the canvas…

Mist paints are best when applied to a porous surface such as paper, fabric, silk, raw wood, etc.  They will adhere to a gessoed canvas, but the look and results are so much different than when it is applied to raw canvas.  Natural canvas takes the color beautifully and it is so rich and deep.  Here is a project from Crew Member Connie Hall that shows you just what we mean.  
Princess Canvas by Connie Hall
-Princess DSC_0326
Wet the 8 x 8 Stretched Canvas with sprays of water, while still wet I added Tattered Angels Boogie Board Chalkboard Mist, set aside to dry.  For the focal point – the Crown – I had a large Banner Chipboard that reminded me of a crown. I cut the tip off and glued it on the bottom of chipboard piece, then I used the Tattered Angels Naturally Aged Paint Kit – Weathered Copper  on the chipboard.  The kit comes with full color instructions to create the look – you will find a whole collection of faux finished kits to choose from – Naturally Aged Kits.  When I went back to the canvas I realized I did not want the flat look so I added a sparkle stucco with a brick stencil, a layer of Tattered Angels Simple Sheer Dark Blue Mist. I let the color drip through the brick outline but I was still not happy with it so I added printed pieces of Tissuestock (Damask).  More Dark Blue Mist and a thin spray of Tattered Angels Graphite Glimmer Mist. When it was drying I used gel medium to add more tissue and I really liked how it pulled the color through. I backed the crown with a piece of Black Burlap, added my embellishments and title. I used quick dry liquid adhesive to hold all my pieces to the canvas. My final step was to add the rose trim around the canvas. It no longer looks flat or light purple, but I am very happy with the result.

Here are a few other supplies used:  Large Ornate Banner Chipboard, Sparkle Stucco, Gel Medium, Roses and Flat-back Pearls.

Tools Used:  Water mister, Brick Stencil, Scissors, liquid quick dry adhesive

stretched mixed media canvas

2.  Decoupage onto canvas….

The natural canvas loves to accept items decoupaged onto the canvas. When you use tissue or a thin item to decoupage it will actually feel like canvas when it dries.  This amazing canvas by Heather Kraafter shows you up-close how cool the background is with the canvas texture.  
Heather Kraafter decoupage canvas

3.  Natural canvas background…

Ann of brings together natural elements on this beautiful canvas.  Gesso is generally bright white, so achieving this natural look is just not possible.

Ann Tatum.com_

4.  Stamp, stencil or rub-on directly onto the canvas….

Emilia Van Den Huevel created this sweet canvas. The soft colors of mist that blend right into the canvas and the stars are a great example of the ability to stamp, stencil or use a rub-on directly onto the canvas and it takes on the look and feel of the canvas blending into the canvas and not sitting on the top.

Emilia van-den-huevel

5.  Distress the canvas to make it look old….

Shelley Haganman started by distressing the background to make the canvas look vintage and it looks like the canvas has been around for a very long time.  You can do this with distress inks, mists or other natural color.

shelley haganman


6.  To gesso or not to gesso….

You can add gesso and other mediums to get the look you want and you can decide how much or little you want to add. Crew member Danielle Mack added lots of texture to create the background giving it so much depth.

Danielle Mack

7.  Use a wide range of mediums and let some of the canvas show through….

Evelyn Walter uses many different techniques and layers and the mediums seem to be a part of the canvas and not just sitting on top.

Evelyn Walter


8.  Add additional natural elements to the canvas and then transform the color and add mediums…

Jennifer Hottinger-Sloan wrapped the canvas with cords and then added her color and layers.  The cords and the canvas become one background that adds a terrific look for the base of her canvas.

Jennifer H. Sloan


9.  Turn it around and decorate the backside, the rough unfinished edges look terrific…

Linda Svendsen  turned the canvas backwards and filled it right up.  The raw edges are a great way to start a rustic, shabby look and take on new personality when painted and mediums are added.

Linda Svendsen


10.  Do paper techniques that are not always possible when gesso is pre-applied…

Lynn Good created a very unique background, using the fibers and the natural material to her advantage.

Lynn Good


11.  You are starting with a shabby chic look before you do anything…

The colors are so soft in the beautiful canvas by Peggy Lee Baker.  The natural canvas allows your colors to be very natural and set the tone.  

peggy baker

12.  Add gesso where you want the paint to really stand out….

Shel C shows us how to make it so bright, colorful and have so much dimension.

Shel C


To see the entire selection of canvases offered jump over to the shop.  Many of the sizes are available in a regular and a chunky version.  You will also see burlap and many of the same techniques will apply to natural burlap too.  

To see many more canvases with so many great ideas – visit our Canvas Corp Brands Crew Page – the crew each made a canvas that represents their personal style and they also are showing off amazing ideas when working with canvas.  How about a mini canvas class…..something you students or customers can take home with them.

Happy Creating!!







Canvas Corp Brands is the home of Tattered Angels, 7Gypsies and Canvas Corp (Canvas Home Basics). We are a manufacturer of surfaces, paint and vintage reproductions coming to you from Springdale, Arkansas.

'No Gesso Stretched Canvas – Oh What You Can Do!!' has 1 comment

  1. September 13, 2016 @ 4:00 pm Cathi O'Neill

    Gorgeous canvases!! Love them all!


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This blog is a compilation of inspiration from the Canvas Corp Brands family including Canvas Corp, Tattered Angels and 7Gypsies.