What are the steps in oil painting a large canvas?

edited April 2018 in Painting
Hi All,

I work full-time and only have time on the weekends to oil paint. Can I break down the steps in painting a larger canvas over two or three weekends? I have a 12" w x 36" h canvas. I plan on painting a vase and flower on one weekend and the next one, the background. Is this doable in regards to reworking the oil paint a week later? If not, what is the best approach? What is the process for large oil paintings that cannot be done in one sitting. I appreciate any help. 

Thank you,


  • Michele

    Welcome to the Forum.

    I would paint the background entirely, with a fast drying paint. On the following weekend I would draw up the details and paint the subject.


  • Denis has a good idea and I paint like that fairly often.  However, if you wish to paint wet in wet for the duration, pre-mix your paint and store it in snap caps in the refrigerator.  Plan carefully in advance and draw everything first.  When you are in process, keep the canvas as cool as possible.  Geneva paint will stay wet for weeks if handled this way.
  • I cover the whole canvas with medium tone quickly and gradually build up my colors and values section by section as I move forward. Finally if I see that something is hampering the overall unity I make that change. I don't have the time to complete a large one in a day.
  • Hi, these tips help me, because I have the same question, thank you.
  • Thanks to all of you for all your good advice. I will try all of these suggestions on different paintings and see what approach I am most comfortable with. I appreciate taking the time with my request.

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