13 Easy Things To Paint On Canvas: Ultimate Guide for Beginners

  • Canvas painting helps you express your thoughts and emotions, practice mindfulness, and improve your health and well-being.
  • Essential art supplies include brand paints and brushes for the 13 easy things to paint on a canvas. 
  • Use a step-by-step guide to painting a serene sunset scene or a colorful landscape, or opt for creating abstract art.
  • Floral paintings, animal art, self-portraits, still life, and inspirational quotes – find the artistic expression that works best for you.

Canvas painting is gaining popularity as it allows you to set your creativity free and express yourself artistically. The blank canvas sheet invites beginners and master artists alike to reveal what they have inside and communicate their emotions to the world.

We present 13 things to paint on a canvas to help you train your hand at various painting techniques and gain mastery of canvas painting. Learn to create anything from serene sunsets to abstract designs, floral compositions and cosmic scenes. We’ll also delve into essential supplies, offer tips and techniques, and discuss the therapeutic benefits of art.

Let’s paint together!

The Joy of Canvas Painting


An empty canvas gives you a chance to practice mindfulness and discover your innermost thoughts and feelings. Relax and enter Zen mode as you transform the canvas into a beautiful work of art with each brush stroke. In those moments of awareness, you’ll pour all your thoughts, feelings, emotions, and yourself onto the canvas, releasing stress and achieving harmony as you paint.

Numerous studies confirm what artists already know. Art helps to develop cognitive, emotional, and social skills, fostering empathy, trust, and social engagement. Canvas painting gives you a positive mindset, improving your health and well-being.

Essential Supplies for Canvas Painting

Besides creativity and passion, artists need a set of tools to help them transfer emotions onto the canvas. The essential list of art supplies includes:

  • Canvas
  • Acrylic/Oil Paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Palette
  • Easel
  • Rags or Paper Towels
  • Water Container
  • Varnish

Every artist has a preferred brand of paints and brushes. If you’re a beginner looking for affordable yet quality options, try the Winsor & Newton Galeria Acrylic Set 20x12ml. The color range is more than enough to turn the canvas painting ideas into reality. As for brushes, the Benicci 15-piece paintbrush set offers various sizes of no-shed brushes and a bonus paint knife.

Simple Canvas Painting Ideas for Beginners

colorful paintingBelow is a list of 13 easy things to paint on canvas for all aspiring artists and those stuck in a rut. If you are looking for some cool painting ideas for your next art project, try one from our list.

Paint a Sunset Silhouette

A sunset silhouette has recently become a popular theme in canvas painting. It is a simple yet effective way of expressing your feelings and mood. Follow this detailed step-by-step guide to painting a serene sunset scene. To paint an effective sunset silhouette, you should:

  1. Choose several matching colors and blend them horizontally down the canvas, with the bottom of the painting being the brightest.
  2. Add the silhouettes of a forest, floating balloons or any other object of preference after the canvas has dried.
  3. Paint smaller balloons or other additional items with different shades of gray to create depth.

Create an Abstract Geometric Design

Geometric shapes and forms are easy things to paint on a canvas. Abstract painting uses geometric forms like squares, rectangles, circles, ovals, or triangles to create intricate patterns or simple geometric designs.

Beginner artists can use the color wheel and schemes to match or contrast the paints to harmonize or accentuate the patterns. The options and combinations are endless.

Paint a Colorful Landscape

Painting a landscape opens a vast range of scenery – mountains and forests, rivers and lakes, valleys and deserts, rainforests and cityscapes. It offers beginners tons of fun things to paint on a canvas. For example, you can paint mountain peaks in just a few easy steps:

  1. Contour the mountains, fill them with gray, and paint the sky.
  2. Draw white streaks down the mountains.
  3. Paint the left side of the streaks titanium white and use dark blue-gray for the right side.
  4. Use the dry brushing technique for the finishing touches.

Newbie artists can find inspiration in the works of Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, and other master landscape painters with different artistic expressions.

Try Floral Canvas Painting

Flowers and bouquets are easy things for beginners to paint on a canvas when following step-by-step instructions from experienced artists. Beginners can try painting roses, hydrangeas, lavender, dandelions or daisies, but for now, let’s try to paint a sunflower!

  1. Draw the center of the sunflower.
  2. Draw the petals out.
  3. Paint the back petals.
  4. Stipple the center of the sunflower with black, white, burnt umber and cadmium orange.
  5. Paint the background ultramarine blue with white spiral patterns.

Experiment with Animal Art

Bring animals to life on your canvas, whether it’s your pet, a majestic lion or a zany lemur. As a beginner artist, you’ll find cats, pandas and turtles very easy to depict, giving you a sense of accomplishment and making the painting more enjoyable. Also, painting colorful animals like birds, butterflies, and fish allows you to experiment with a variety of colors, shades, and patterns.

To capture the essence of animals in your artwork, follow the below tips:

  • Create a striking visual impact by using colors and textures
  • Add a sense of depth and atmosphere by blending cool and warm tones
  • Composition tells the story by capturing the essence of the subject
  • Negative space creates a feeling of danger and vulnerability
  • The animal’s size and placement convey their strength and power

Create a Galaxy or Starry Night

A night sky with the moon and stars allows beginners to try more romantic canvas painting ideas or explore the mysteries of the deep cosmos. The heavenly bodies are pretty easy to paint, and with a few simple tricks of the trade, you’ll soon be able to paint the Milky Way like Frederic J. Brown or starry skies like Van Gogh.

Painting a galaxy requires two techniques – sponging and splattering. The main steps include the following:

  1. Paint the canvas black and add the colors for the background.
  2. Start sponging to blur and blending the colors.
  3. Splatter paint using a paintbrush or a toothbrush to create stars all over the canvas.

Paint an Inspirational Quote

Canvas paintings with inspirational quotes make lovely decorations in your home. Choose the right words to encourage and inspire your family and friends or cheer them up when they need comfort and support. You can check some famous quotes here and choose the ones that resonate.

If you’re looking for funny things to paint on a canvas, choose some funny family quotes like “Families are like fudge – mostly sweet with a few nuts.” It’ll always inspire good-natured banter among family members.

Abstract Tree Painting

Birch trees are a fan favorite when it comes to abstract tree paintings. Let’s see how to paint an abstract birch forest:

  1. Paint the background by blending brown, orange, and ocher.
  2. Paint the trees.
  3. Include the leaves in gold, green, orange, and red color.
  4. Finalize the painting with the sky.
  5. As a final step, improve the bark texture.

Use the linear perspective technique to create depth in your work. You can also play with applying cooler colors in the background and warmer ones in the foreground for an illusion of depth.

Expressive Self-Portrait

Before you begin your self-portrait, take time to study your face. Analyze its shape, size, form, and proportions, and once you are done, you should:

  1. Take a picture of your face.
  2. Paint your head.
  3. Adjust the face shape.
  4. Paint the mouth, eyes, and ears.

It’s unlikely that a beginner artist will create a precise self-portrait. Still, think of it as an exercise and, in the meantime, marvel at the genius of Frida Kahlo’s masterpieces.

Ocean or Beach Scene

Tranquil beaches and ocean views are much better-suited things to paint on a canvas for beginners who can find inspiration in coastal-themed artists like Robert Wyland. Here are the steps on how to draw an ocean scene:

  1. Draw the horizon line and the sun.
  2. Paint the sky orange and the sun yellow or a lighter orange than the sky.
  3. Paint the ocean, leaving the space beneath the sun empty.
  4. Paint the reflection of the sun.
  5. Highlight the sun and the ocean.

Paint a Still Life

A still-life painting depicts inanimate objects around us, such as fruit, flowers, tables, bowls, vases, or glasses. You can arrange several everyday objects like these and paint them in a realistic or impressionistic style.. You’ll need to play with light, lighting and color to achieve realism in still-life compositions. Levels of realism increase depending on the accuracy of the brightness values.

Abstract Watercolor Background

Canvas is usually reserved for oil and acrylic paints, so you’ll need to prime it to use watercolors. Start by priming it with Gesso and then apply an acrylic primer for water media. Let it dry, and start painting with watercolors.

Try a Monochromatic Painting

A monochromatic painting is created by using only one color. You can use different shades, tones, and tints, but you cannot use any other color. It is perfect for painting landscapes, abstract art, and even portraits.

Tips and Techniques for Beginners

All newbie artists must learn the proper technique of color mixing, types of brush strokes, and layering. However, you should also learn the specifics of all the types of paintings you wish to pursue and look for tips and tricks to help you paint better. You should learn to:

  • Blend the colors
  • Apply the correct brush strokes
  • Create depth and texture
  • Splatter paint techniques

Final Words


Everyone is an artist in their own way, and canvas painting can help you reveal your creativity to the world while reaping the benefits of this therapeutic activity. Our list of 13 things to paint on canvas contains beginner-friendly painting ideas and tips and techniques that every aspiring artist needs to learn.

So, grab your brushes, select cool, funny, or cute things to paint on a canvas, and start painting your masterpiece today! Happy Painting!

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