Posted in studio tip

DIY Art HACK: How to paint to the edges of your canvas without getting paint on your easel’s clamps!

Okay. You are ready to paint. The canvas is on the easel. You’re slinging paint making glorious progress when…SCREECH!!!

Your creative flow comes to an abrupt halt as you realize you need to paint the top (or bottom) edge of your canvas and you can’t because you can’t get to it—the easel’s top clamp or bottom ledge is in the way.

There are some pretty fancy easels out there, and I’m almost sure someone somewhere has designed an easel which avoids this issue. But if you are like me, on a budget and already working on an easel that is inexpensive yet perfectly adequate for my needs, you might want to find a way around this problem.

I suppose you could just unfasten the easel clamp every time you need to paint the top or bottom edges of your canvas, but this seems like a pain. And besides, how would you keep the canvas secure on the easel while those edges are drying?

I suppose you could raise the bottom edge of the canvas up off of its ledge and rest it on a wooden block or other support that is a little narrower than the thickness of the canvas….(my head is starting to hurt now…)

I suppose you could even leave the top and bottom edges of your canvas unpainted….(now that’s just ridiculous!)


A simple DIY solution using easily obtained supplies from your studio or local big box hobby store.

Masonite drawing board, masking tape, and neodymium magnets

You will need:

*the canvas you are planning to paint on

*a masonite drawing board which is just slightly larger than your canvas

*some masking tape (not artist tape—it’s not sticky enough)

*one or more packages of Neodymium Magnets—I used 2 packages (16 magnets in total) and purchased mine at Hobby Lobby using a coupon!

STEP 1: Flip your canvas over onto a flat surface so that the back’s wooden stretcher bars are facing up.

STEP 2: Arrange half of your magnets on the wooden stretcher bars so that they are evenly spaced around the frame. The larger your canvas, the more magnets you will need to hold the canvas’s weight.

In the photo below I am using a 20×20 inch canvas, so I used 8 magnets for this step—2 for each stretcher bar.

At this point you do not need to be precise about the magnet placement. You just don’t want them close to each other or they may be attracted!

**Note of caution: Be careful as you work with these magnets. They are very powerful and have a strong magnetic attraction to each other and anything metal! I actually gave myself a blood blister when two magnets I had near each other suddenly snapped together with my finger in the way!!

8 neodymium magnets spaced around the canvas and being taped in place with masking tape…

STEP 3: Once all of the magnets have been taped down with the masking tape, flip your canvas back over and position the canvas onto the drawing board.

Just get the canvas into the general area you want it on the board. You can easily adjust it once your drawing board is on your easel.

STEP 4: Once you have the canvas generally placed on the board, take the other half of your magnets and place them, one by one, onto the back of the drawing board—that is, on the side of the board farthest away from your canvas.

8 magnets in place on the back of the drawing board being held in place by their attraction from the magnets taped on the canvas’s back.

You should have a general idea of where the taped magnets are on your canvas. Just slide a magnet around that general area on the back of the board and you should “feel” a magnetic “push or pull” as the magnets are attracted or repelled.

Of course, if you feel them repelling, simply turn over the magnet you are holding in your hand and it should “snap” into place opposite the magnet taped to the canvas with the drawing board sandwiched in between.

FINAL STEP: Once you have the rear magnets in place, simply adjust your canvas on its board support by gently sliding it up, down, left, or right to get it where you want it.

Now you are ready to paint!

Canvas being held in place magnetically and adjusted so that the top and bottom edges are now accessible for painting!!!


If you find that your canvas slides around too easily as you are painting, you may want to use more magnets to help hold it place. However, this method might not work for you if you are a more aggressive painter!!!

If you don’t have a drawing board, this method will also work using a piece of foam core as a support; however, over time thinner foam core might warp from being tightened down by your easel’s clamps.

One of the beauties of this method is that you can keep the canvas attached to its board temporarily even when the canvas is not on the easel.

This comes in handy if you only have one easel and like to work on more than one painting in a day. Simply remove board and all from easel and replace it with another canvas/board combo. Of course, you would need multiple boards and magnets for this to work….

Or you could simply remove the rear magnets from the drawing board. Lift off canvas A leaving its magnets taped in place. Set it aside. Then put canvas B (complete with its own taped magnets) onto the board. Replace the rear magnets on the back of the drawing board and adjust the new canvas as needed.


I hope someone found this art hack helpful. I looked and looked for other solutions to this problem, and didn’t find much, so am happy to share what is working for me.

Happy Painting!


P.S. The art shown in this post is my own work in progress…acrylic on canvas.


Rhonda is an artist, violinist, mountain dulcimer player, composer/arranger, homeschool mom, and chicken/goat farmer. To purchase her fine art, visit

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