What coat can I apply on a gallery canvas (before painting on top of it) to prevent it from yellowing over time? I'm planning to leave some parts of the canvas unpainted.

  • Do you mean to prevent the canvas from yellowing? Independent of the paint itself? Are you planning on leaving parts of the canvas shine through, or are you talking about the backside?
    – Joachim
    Nov 6 '20 at 8:48
  • You would usually just paint on the canvas and add a varnish on top to protect the paint (and the canvas if there is any blank canvas left).
    – Lapskaus
    Nov 6 '20 at 13:48
  • @Joachim yes and yes. I’m planning to leave some parts of the canvas unpainted
    – Carlo Yu
    Nov 8 '20 at 9:00
  • I'll post this as a comment because it's speculation. You can slow down any yellowing that will occur by sealing the surface of the canvas with something clear. But if it's going to yellow, it eventually will. I suspect the solution is to coat the surface with something white and opaque. There are low viscosity finish materials that won't change the surface texture if that's important.
    – fixer1234
    Nov 9 '20 at 19:43
  • 2
    Are you using "raw" canvas, or "white" canvas that has already been prepped for acrylic (with e.g. a couple of layers of gesso). Because the former will tend to yellow regardless of your efforts to seal it, even if you seal both sides, whereas the latter will stay white for longer (depending on the quality of the gesso)
    – Gwyn
    Nov 12 '20 at 0:58

If you want the canvas to be raw it will discolor but if you want it to look raw and are ok with covering it, then use a good quality acrylic gel medium. Golden makes several, and if you use a matte gel and cover both sides of the canvas you will not have any yellowing as it will be insulated from oxidation. Matte, is suggested because a thin coat is almost impossible to see. Gloss will show itself.


The quick fix is a sealer so the tannin or stain can't penetrate through. Stain blockers that are oil-based primer/paints, spray shellac, polyurethane, or even wax.

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