DIY- 3 Easy Ways to Paint Quotes on Canvas

Canvases with inspirational quotes are really popular right now. I would know, since they’re my main product I sell on Etsy! Not everyone is blessed with fabulous handwriting and a steady hand. But fear not- I’ve found solutions! After making dozens of quote canvas paintings, I’ve experimented and tweaked different methods for transferring writing onto canvas. Here’s my top 3 methods for writing on canvas and making a beautiful, personalized piece of art!

How to paint quotes on canvasFor each of these methods, you’ll need to start with a canvas. I recommend finding a canvas that is stapled on the back and the not sides, like this one on Amazon. You’ll also need at least two contrasting colors of paint. I use acrylic paint for this project because of its quick dry time. You can also use spray paint if you don’t want the hassle and mess of painting by hand. I like Krylon brand spray paint, like this one. Finally, I recommend finishing your artwork with a spray to seal and protect it. I use this Krylon Matte Finish Spray; this brand also comes in glossy and satin finishes.

Use stickers to paint a quote on canvas1. Stickers

Using vinyl letter stickers is arguably the quickest and easiest way to transfer letters onto canvas. Make sure your letter stickers are vinyl and do not say “permanent.” I use vinyl letter stickers like these.

ProsSimple and easy method to use with spray paint

Cons: Size and fonts are limited



What you need:

How to:

  1. Paint your canvas the color you would like your letters. Let it dry.
  2. Place your letter stickers on the canvas. Use your ruler to measure the distance between letters and make sure writing is even and straight.
  3. Paint your background color over top of the stickers (be careful- if you paint too rough, your letters will move). Be sure not to layer the paint too thick, or it will lift off when you pull off your stickers. Let your canvas mostly dry.
  4. Peel stickers off while you’re canvas is still slightly tacky. You can use a pair of tweezers if you’re having trouble removing the stickers.
  5. You may need to clean up the edges of your letters with a small paint brush.


2. Stencils

Stencils are a great method if you are planning on painting a more complicated background because you can easily paint the letters over your background.Use stencils to paint quotes on canvas

ProsLooks clean and sharp. More fonts to work with

Cons: Can be really time consuming!

What you’ll need:

  • Plastic, stiff stencils
  • 2 small paint brushes
  • Ruler
  • Water
  • Paper towel

How to:

  1. Paint your canvas in the color background of your choice. Let dry.
  2. Measure where you want each line of your writing. Place your stencil down and carefully paint over the letter. Make sure your paint is not watery. Lift straight up. Clean the edges of the letter with a clean, slightly wet brush. The brush should lift any excess paint that leaked around the edge of the stencil off the canvas. With the paper towel, wipe excess paint off your stencil. Let the paint dry completely.
  3. Once the letter dries, you can move on to the next letter.

3. Carbon paper transfer

Use carbon paper transfers to paint quotes on canvasThis is my current favorite method of writing on canvases!

Pros: Get neat, clean lines and it’s quicker than stencilling.

Cons: You’ll need a steady hand to use this method. Also, the carbon can smudge on the canvas and get a little messy.

What you’ll need:

  1. A computer & printer
  2. Carbon paper
  3. Ball point pen
  4. Scissors & tape
  5. Small paint brush

How to:

  1. Paint your canvas the background color of your choice. Let dry.
  2. On your computer, find a font that you like (If can’t find one, google has loads of great fonts you can download for free at out  your quote. Determine how large you want each letter or word to be and readjust your font. Print your quote.
  3. Arrange your quote on your canvas. You may need to cut the words out and readjust them depending on how big your canvas is.
  4. Place carbon paper face down underneath each word. Tape the paper and carbon paper in place.
  5. Trace over the letters with your ball point pen. Don’t press too hard or you’ll dent your canvas. Carefully remove the tape and papers.
  6. With your small paint brush, paint within the lines in the contrasting color. Let dry. If you’re using a light color on a dark background, you may need 2 coats.
  7. Erase any pencil marks that are left over.


After you complete your project, I recommend you coat your canvas with the finishing spray to protect it. Again, I use this Krylon Matte Finish Spray; this brand also comes in glossy and satin finishes. And that’s it- you’re all finished! Now you have a beautiful piece of personalized art. You can frame your canvas, or just hang it right on the wall, like I do.

Tell me, which methods have you tried? What are the pros and cons you’ve encountered? Is there an easier way you’ve made the same project? I’d love to hear from you!

UPDATE: Since you all liked this tutorial, I wrote another! See more ideas for writing quotes on canvas with my new post, 3 (More) Ways to Paint Quotes on Canvas

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  1. vanessa vanessa
    August 30, 2015    

    I used the carbon transfer method (used graphite paper) and it worked perfectly!! thank you for this tip 🙂

  2. February 24, 2016    

    I absolutely adore your work. I checked out your Etsy site and it inspired, made me laugh and smile!!!!

    • February 24, 2016    

      Aw thanks for checking it out Lana, and for taking the time to comment! 🙂

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