Painting a canvas with sponges

You paint on canvas is not limited to the brushes. You can experiment with various tools like spatulas or sponges to create different effects. The technique of painting with sponge is used to paint on the wall or when you decorate a three – dimensional statue, because the sponge lets you paint in areas difficult to reach. In canvas painting, the sponge technique adds depth to your composition and creates textured effects. These effects can work with background of your painting, but you can also create a composite whole using only sponges.


  1. Prepare liquid colors in ceramic or plastic bowls so you can put the sponges in them. Take a bowl or plate for each color you want to use. You can use water-based colors and oil for sponge painting. Dilute water-based colors with water using equal amounts. Dilute oil-based colors using a 50 percent solution of flaxseed oil and 50 percent turpentine.
  2. Paint your background in one or more colors by which the background is visible beneath the main texture that you create with the sponges. Select the areas where you want to apply the textures with a sponge.
  3. Moisten a sponge with water drain completely. If you are using oil paints, use a dry sponge. Put the sponge in the color and remove the surplus with a piece of newspaper. Try the sponge on a piece of paper or newspaper to see what effect it creates. Gently press the sponge onto the canvas. Lift the sponge off the canvas and press it back next to the first impression you made. You will get a stained effect. Cover selected areas with sponge texture and let the background see through. Rinse the sponge or put a new sponge in a different color if you want to apply a texture with different color.
  4. Dip the edge of a square or rectangular sponge dry in color and press it against the canvas to create lines in your painting. The sponge should be dry so it is hard.
  5. Paint elements in your composition using sponges. Sketch the elements of your composition on the canvas with a pencil. Use sponges wet in color to paint over the sketch.
  6. Cut your sponges in different ways, wet them and paint on your canvas with these shapes.

Tips & Warnings

  • Avoid soaking the sponge in color, because soggy sponges leave a solid color stroke and you will not get the stained effect. If it is saturated with color, drain it before continuing.
  • It varies the pressure applied to the sponge when you press it against the canvas to get different textures.