Painting on Black Canvas Ideas and How to

Sharing is caring!

If you have ever been to a paint and sip party, you have probably done a painting on a white cotton canvas. But, have you ever been to a painting party where you painted on a black canvas?

Most people don’t tend to think about painting on black canvases, because we usually see white canvases being used in most of these classes. But, there is a whole lot you can do with a black canvas.

I love teaching paint and sip classes using black canvases. Using a black background can change the way your artwork appears, and you may be surprised to see just how much it can enhance your art.

Today we are going to talk about the benefits of using a black canvas, easy painting ideas on black background as well as where to find black canvases. Here we go!

Why Use a Black Canvas?

While white is the default color for most canvases, never underestimate what you can do with a black canvas. Because this canvas is dark, it will change the feeling of your artwork.

First of all, a black canvas will give you a painting that is quite powerful and dramatic. No, it isn’t going to look dark and gloomy. It is going to provide a very striking picture, and that has a lot of impact.

You could paint the same painting on a white canvas and a black canvas, and you will see the differences. Yes, the painting is the same, but the black canvas makes it take on a whole different tone.

I like using black canvas when painting night scenes. It is so much easier to blend the dark blues and purples into a black background than into a white one.

Another advantage to using a black canvas is that the black can be used for shadows. This way you don’t have to paint in the shadows. You only have to paint the areas around the shadows and then blend them.

Types of Paintings that Look Great on Black Canvas

By now you are probably wondering, besides night sky scenes, what types of paintings you can do on a black canvas. When you come right down to it you can do just about any painting on a black background.

But, some paintings stand out when they are done on black canvases. Check these easy black canvas painting ideas for beginners:

#1. Portraits

When you paint a portrait on a black canvas, the subject of your painting is going to stand out. The black background helps you to focus on the subject and not everything else around it.

When a portrait has a white background, the eye often goes to the background rather than the subject. When there is no color in the background (in other words, black), the eye focuses directly on the subject.

#2. Flowers

flowers painting on black canvas

I love using a black canvas when painting flowers, especially if I am painting a still life. When a black canvas is used, the colors look brighter and more intense.

Also, as with portraits, having a black canvas will draw the eye toward the subject instead of the background. You can also use the black background to create shadows behind the flowers.

#3. Dark Mood Paintings

If you are looking for a spooky or dark effect for a painting, nothing works better than using a black canvas. A white canvas just won’t give you the effect that you are going for.

We all tend to associate the dark with creepiness, so it only makes sense that a black canvas is going to help you to create art that is creepy yet beautiful at the same time.

#4. Starry Night Sky

When it comes to what to paint on a black canvas, a night sky is probably the most common subject.

The deep black background provides a dramatic and captivating backdrop for the shimmering stars and celestial elements. 

With a fine-tipped brush and a combination of white and metallic paints, you can carefully recreate the twinkling stars, clusters of galaxies, and wisps of nebulae.

You need to pay close attention to the brushstrokes and blending techniques to capture the depth and luminosity of the night sky.

The contrast between the bright stars and the dark canvas creates a mesmerizing effect, evoking a sense of wonder and awe as well as capturing the ethereal beauty of the cosmos.

Where to Get Black Canvas

There are a couple of options when it comes to obtaining black canvases. When I first began painting with a black background, I was painting the canvases black before I started painting the details.

That was costing me a lot of money because I use black canvases often and I was going through a lot of black paint.

The other option is less expensive and less time-consuming. You can buy black canvases at most art supply stores, and they do not cost any more than a regular white canvas.

How to Paint on Black Canvas

There are no special tricks to painting on black canvas. I always just paint the same way that I would if I was using a white canvas.

Let’s say I am painting a nightscape. I would use various shades of blue to add texture to the darkness.

#1. Use Light and Dark Colors

You may be wondering how you would be able to see darker colors against the black background. I like to use a combination of dark and light/bright colors to make everything pop.

For instance, if I am doing a night scene, I begin with the light source, which is often the moon.

Once I have the moon in place, I begin putting the other night colors around it. I paint from light to dark, working outwards until the darkest colors blend with the black canvas background.

#2. Paint in Layers

To make colors stand out against a black background, I find it is best to paint in layers. This is going to make it easy to add subtle hints of darkness.

Build the layers of paint, adding as many layers as you need to make the darker colors stand out against the black canvas.

I usually advise painting with thick layers. This is going to help the color to pop more and be more visible. It will also add some texture to your painting.

#3. Use a Layer of Opaque Paint

You can make that darkness stand out by using this easy trick: paint an opaque or partially opaque layer before laying down the darker color.

Having this opaque base layer will help to bring out the darker color so it stands out against the rest of the darkness in the background. The transparency of the colors you are using will determine how much opaque color will be needed to make those colors come to life.

#4. Add Sources of Light

Adding sources of light will also help to make the other colors stand out on a black canvas. For instance, if you are painting a black panther, instead of shading the muscles and other details, paint these details with a lighter color.

The sun and the moon are always great light sources. When using any light source, make sure that your work follows the source. For instance, if there are trees in front of a rising moon, highlight them to show the moonlight on the trees.


White canvases are great, but there is something to be said about using a black canvas. My paint and sip students are often surprised when I give them black canvases to paint on, but they are always happy with the final results.

The next time you are shopping for canvases, pick up a couple of black ones while you are at it. Go online to get ideas for painting on a black canvas, and then give it a try yourself. You won’t be disappointed!

You can also apply these spray paint art techniques on canvas to create more amazing paintings.