View Full Version : Pen on wood with varnish

03-14-2019, 09:52 PM
I've seen some great pen and ink art on wood but there is very little information out there on how to do it.

Here is what I discovered:

I use high end furniture grade one quarter inch 5 ply white maple plywood for my oil paintings. It's $104 a sheet of 4' x 8'. It has a flawless surface on both sides.

I decided to use some to make a small wood box, which I then decorated with pen and ink. My ink was rOtring black, Platinum Carbon black and Sakura Jelly Roll white.

I sanded the wood with 300 grit paper then sealed with two coats of Gamblin PVA size, sanding before and after both size coats.

The drawing process felt normal, though the PVA size was slightly less absorbent than paper, so I was careful not to touch the lines if they looked wet. Really the ink only needed 10 seconds to dry, if that. I did a pure ink sketch, no pencil underneath.

After drawing, I waited a day then used Gamblin Gamvar oil painting varnish. Both the black and white ink survived the varnishing perfectly. This looks like a great way do pen art because you don't have to put it under glass or use matts. It's just like an oil painting, no glass needed.



Here you can see the shine of the Gamvar varnish:


03-16-2019, 07:14 PM
This is a really neat project. I like your drawing. I'd be scared to draw it out on the wood without a pencil sketch first. :clap:

pedlars pen
03-16-2019, 07:50 PM
Hmmm.. Maple ply I'll bet that is smooth as glass - nice :thumbsup: I've done some pen drawing on boxes & other stuff (usually a fine birch ply),I always found that acrylic matt varnish along with acrylic ink gave the best surface & finish, after a final 600 grit sand.
But I have seen boxes over 100 years old with the finest drawing & finish too, they can only have used Indian ink on a shellac finish .
There goes the wisest lesson in art & craft being taught yet again ,there's more than one way to skin a cat !

03-17-2019, 07:12 AM
its lovely idea and great when we can use our art to make nice usful things ourselves lol you done a great.


Payne's Grey
03-17-2019, 08:29 AM
I've thought of doing drawings on wood panels, and now I know how to do it. Thanks for the writeup, Mark.

03-17-2019, 03:45 PM
Very interesting and very well executed, Mark. Thanks for sharing!

03-24-2019, 02:47 AM
Good and unusual work.