Question: Hi Lisa,

First, I’d like to thank you for inspiring me to get back into drawing and to finally get up the courage to try painting. Your Patreon and YouTube videos have taught me so much and I look forward to the new videos every week.

My question is- When painting in acrylics and oils, how do you finish the sides of your canvases? I’ve done a little research and see that many artists disagree about what the best way is. I’ve tried both painting the sides black and following the painting around the edges, but wondered what you think gives the most professional look.

Thanks for your time!


This is all going to come down to personal preference. For me, it depends on the situation. I have never loved the look of how a painting appears warped on the edges when the painting continues onto the side, so if I do continue the painting, I keep it very simple.

A dark painting

  • Box canvas – continue the painting around the edges
  • 3/4″ canvas – I paint the edges black

A light painting

  • Box canvas – continue the painting around the edges
  • 3/4″ canvas – I paint the edges the same main/base color of the painting itself.


When painting your edges a solid dark color, especially black when the majority of your painting is lighter, make sure your lines/edges are clean!! Having messy edges can take a stunning painting and make it look terrible. The safer bet here is to use the main color of your canvas when you paint your base layers and continue it around the edges as you paint (so you know the color is the same). It keeps everything looking nice and clean.

As for which gives the most professional look, that I think is hands down popping the painting into an open frame. While this does not apply to the thicker box canvases, for your standard 3/4″ thick canvases I always display those framed, so the edges don’t matter much. It makes the artwork feel SO much more complete! Even the most simple frame can make a mediocre painting look amazing.