Art Over Science

Lesson 2: Finishing Off Your Acrylic Painting For Sale

So you've just completed an acrylic masterpiece? Great! But you're not finished yet. Before your painting is ready for sale you need to tidy it up and make it ready to hang.

An unfinished painting may have drip marks down the side, exposed staples and raw canvas edges. This makes your painting look unprofessional and indicates that you don't take your art seriously. However finishing off your artwork is easy and quick - all you need is painted sides, varnish, framing tape and hanging hardware.

Paint the edges

If you're using a stretched box canvas the chances are you're going to sell/display it unframed. The sides will be exposed therefore it is important to clean up the edges from paint spills and drips. The easiest way to achieve this is by painting the edges with a neutral or complimentary color. The most common color is black as it helps to define the edges of the artwork, provides a fresh finish, covers a multitude of sins and will match most interiors.


Once you've completely finished your painting then you're ready to varnish it. Varnish gives your painting a protective coating and helps to give the painting depth. One of the most common types of varnish for acrylic paintings comes in spray cans, either matt or gloss finish. Spray the varnish onto the painting in broad sweeping movements, taking care to read the instructions beforehand. When the first coat is dry, turn the artwork sideways and spray it again in the opposite direction. Turn one more time to give your painting three even coats. Make sure you varnish in a well-ventilated area, and away from wind and dust.

Framing Tape

After the varnish has dried turn the painting over. Apply framing tape onto the outside stretcher bars approximately 2mm in from the edge to avoid curling. The framing tape will make the back look tidy, cover any staples, cover any raw canvas edges and stop the stretchers from marking the wall. Avoid using masking tape, packing tape or paper tape as they look cheap and may not adhere permanently. Good quality framing tape may cost more initially, but it will pay dividends with its clean, professional look.

Hooks and cords

Providing hanging hardware is an important consideration whether you have sold an artwork or sending it to an exhibition. There is a greater risk of damage to your painting if someone else has to attach hooks, so it's worthwhile doing this task yourself. Having a ready-to-hang artwork also makes you, as the artist, look professional and considerate. The best kind of hanging hardware is D-hooks, which is attached to the stretcher bars with little screws and come in various sizes. Another common alternative is little eye hooks which are screwed directly into the wood by hand.

Once your hooks are in place attach hanging cords, twine or wire across them and tie the knot very securely.
Having a professionally finished painting will make your artwork stand out. All it takes is painted edges, varnish, framing tape and hanging hardware. These take little time and investment, however, makes a huge overall difference in the appearance of your painting. Your prospective customers will easily see that you take your artwork and your career seriously, which will increase your chance of making that all-important sale.

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Lesson Intro Video

Lesson 1: Artistic Gifts You Can Make Yourself (Prev Lesson)
(Next Lesson) Lesson 3: Group Art Exhibitions – 5 Ways To A Stress Free Hanging Day
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