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Old 04-13-2005, 11:45 PM
texana6 texana6 is offline
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Question Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

I wanted to do an acrylic painting on stretched canvas, rather than Fredrix Watercolor Canvas.

So I drew a grid on the new stretched canvas, then drew my enlarged drawing with a mechanical pencil in preparation before starting the painting.

I thought a white plastic eraser could then be used to erase the unwanted grid lines and soften the lines I wanted to keep before I started the actual painting. NOT! The graphite smudged and the lines are still visible. I fear that they will show through the paints unless I first paint over them in gesso, section by section.

So apparently, I didn't do this right. Someone please tell me how THEY transfer a line drawing to a stretched canvas in a way that will not show through the acrylic paint!

I also don't like the quality of the stretched canvas. Serves me right. I bought it at Hobby Lobby and it was their "Fine Touch Value-Pack Artist Canvas". I should have stuck with Fredrix Watercolor Canvas.

I hope this doesn't sound like a REALLY dumb question.
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Old 04-14-2005, 04:31 AM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

Texana,

This is definitely not a dumb question. I struggled with this very often. My way requires a lot of technological goodies, but what I do is scan the drawing or photo that I want to paint and then print it out on a transparency - small enough to fit into an old slide projector. Then I project the picture onto the canvas.... loads of work though, but really effective if you have an old projector lying around (or even a digital one if you have a little extra in that bank account )

A trick I used before discovering the practicality of the projector was to draw with charcoal instead of pencil. I found that the charcoal was able to be erased off of the canvas.

And a last little trick that I used (as you can tell, I also suffered with this question) was to paint an underlayer of white acrylic paint. I use crappy, cheap acrylic house paint!!! Pencil rubs off of the paint itself really easily.

Hope this is explained clearly - I have just woken up. Feel free to pm me if you want to ask directly

Cheers
Murray

Last edited by muz : 04-14-2005 at 04:34 AM.
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Old 04-14-2005, 06:59 AM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by texana6
I wanted to do an acrylic painting on stretched canvas, rather than Fredrix Watercolor Canvas.

So I drew a grid on the new stretched canvas, then drew my enlarged drawing with a mechanical pencil in preparation before starting the painting.

I thought a white plastic eraser could then be used to erase the unwanted grid lines and soften the lines I wanted to keep before I started the actual painting. NOT! The graphite smudged and the lines are still visible. I fear that they will show through the paints unless I first paint over them in gesso, section by section.

So apparently, I didn't do this right. Someone please tell me how THEY transfer a line drawing to a stretched canvas in a way that will not show through the acrylic paint!

I also don't like the quality of the stretched canvas. Serves me right. I bought it at Hobby Lobby and it was their "Fine Touch Value-Pack Artist Canvas". I should have stuck with Fredrix Watercolor Canvas.

I hope this doesn't sound like a REALLY dumb question.

I sometimes will use pencil underdrawings on a canvas, it generally isn't a major issue since I tend to work in a rather opaque fashion. I even use charcoal as a drawing if I want to have the carbon mix with the acrylic, it gives a wonderful effect when used in conjunction with gesso as a white it is really quite wonderful.

If you work in a transparent fashion you could take issue with the lines. Have you considered using distilled water and a cotton rag or a plastic scrubby or a toothbrush to try and rub/scrub it off to a more acceptable level. Be very careful and a light touch so as not to damage the canvas and be sure to use distilled water. I would try it first on a hidden or small corner area of canvas to see how it reacts. Not having seen or used the canvas you mention, caution is always of value.

Or as you stated a gesso or white paint as a covering will be of value. I think some here have run into the same issue and done just that. They gesso a section, let it dry and then gesso the next section while working on the dry gesso area. It generally depends on how you work.

For future reference you may consider using a harder pencil and less pressure so the drawing is faint and therefore less obtrusive The softer the pencil, the heavier the application the darker the line, the harder it is to rid yourself of it. Experiment with several different pencils till you find the one you like.

Another thought is to use a pastel pencil or chalk to do the grid work and then do the drawing in pencil. The chalk line can be wiped out with a damp cloth. You may want to consider using a pale color chalk/pastel pencil. Something in a modest blue or green range, though I imagine any color will do as long as it isn't to strong.

Another thought would be to use a waxless transfer paper (saral is a brand that comes to mind). These are available in gray, red, blue, yellow and white and leave a very faint line. It is used like carbon paper (don't use carbon paper as it has a wax and will interfere with the painting process). You do need to have a full sized sketch in order to make this work properly. If you don't want to buy that sort of thing you can take the full sized sketch and rub the back with soft pencil along the lines (use a tracing paper for the original sketch). Tape this to the canvas with the right side up and then draw along the lines to transfer the carbon to the canvas. Be sure to use a pencil of a different color so you know where you have been during the transfer process. I also cut triangular shapes into the transfer paper so I can easily tape it in place. If you want to see how that works let me know and I can put a photograph of it up.

Another approach is to do a full sized sketch of the work, then go at it with a pattern wheel. (a pattern wheel is a handle with a wheel with little pins set close together, as you go over the lines it leaves small holes in the paper) Then place the paper on the canvas, carefully tape in place. Using a pounce bag with pastel dust or charcoal dust you pounce over the holes transferring it to the canvas. You may want to use a fixatif to set the lines before painting.

Some of these are good for opaque painting techniques and others are better for transparent.

I am sure others will come up with something that may be of more value to you.

Sorry for the long post, that about depletes my ideas on how to make this work for you. Hope it is of some assistance.
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Last edited by idylbrush : 04-14-2005 at 07:04 AM.
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Old 04-14-2005, 02:37 PM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

I use a pastel pencil, in a color that will harmonise with the painting.
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Old 04-14-2005, 02:56 PM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

Thank you for all of your suggestions! I might try all of them on this canvas that I don't like ... and then start over on a good canvas that I DO like! I am a strong believer in learning by doing ... I just didn't know I would run into a problem BEFORE I put my first stroke of paint onto the canvas!
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Old 04-15-2005, 07:27 AM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by texana6
Thank you for all of your suggestions! I might try all of them on this canvas that I don't like ... and then start over on a good canvas that I DO like! I am a strong believer in learning by doing ... I just didn't know I would run into a problem BEFORE I put my first stroke of paint onto the canvas!


Never a problem, just another challenge.
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Old 04-15-2005, 08:41 AM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

I buy pre-stretched canvas all of the time, and like you I'm not nuts about the surface either. My husbands laughs because I have so much canvas laying around in the 'preparing stages'. I've taken to pretty much covering the entire canvas with a variety of different things -- gesso, heavy gel, molding paste, etc. to get rid of the 'canvassy' look, and to add texture before I start to paint. On really large pieces I often will use a projector to get the basic shapes, which I tend to outline with watered down yellow ochre (using a brush). I don't worry about erasing or getting rid of lines because when all is said and done they are so far hidden in the many underpainting layers. The cool thing about acrylics is that you can always cover up your lines .

My painting II class professor has stressed over and over that painting is really drawing, so I've learned to draw with paint rather than sketch things out. It's quite liberating, and nothing turns out like I first envision it.

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Old 04-19-2005, 04:44 PM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

I had the same problem with pencil, so now I use watercolour pencils in a harmonising colour. This works well for drawing over acrylics too if you want to get rid of the lines later with a bit of water.
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Old 06-19-2005, 03:07 PM
texana6 texana6 is offline
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

Just wanted to let everyone here know that your suggestions were all very good. What I finally used was Loew Cornell Watercolor Pencils, orange to draw my grid directly on the gesso-covered canvas, then blue to do the drawing. I was able to go back with some Q-tips and water to remove the unwanted orange lines. As I did the painting, my drawing lines in blue "disappeared" in with the acrylic paint. Attached is the final result and I have now started my second painting!
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Old 06-19-2005, 03:16 PM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

I draw lightly with a pencil but instead of using any kind of gummy eraser, which smears the graphite, I use a more crumbly type of eraser. I'm not sure what it's called, but it really works.
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Old 06-19-2005, 07:34 PM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

I often grid canvases for painting. The one I am painting at the moment had a grid. I find that not removing the lines is the easiest way. Yes a rubber (that would be an eraser for the Yanks - get your mind out of the gutter ) just smudges the lines around. To seal the pencil lines depending on how dark they are I either glaze with gloss medium (so it is still transparent) or paint a thin coat of gesso. I have never noticed the pencil lines after the painting is finished so I don't think that they are much of a problem. I also worry about using a rubber if it will stretch the canvas a little bit but maybe that is just my paranoia.
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Old 05-27-2006, 01:36 PM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

Hi, sorry for reviving this old thread. Just wanted to say thanks to all the people who answered, this was exactly what I was looking for today, thanks!
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Old 05-27-2006, 11:39 PM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

I draw with pencil, but learned that erasing doesn't work, so I just don't attempt to erase. (I a) try not to draw wrong lines b) if I do, I live with them (draw better lines and ignore the wrong ones.) And I paint opaquely for the most part (though some colors are less opaque then others, so sometimes I have to gesso over grid lines.

But, sometimes I have to gesso over some of my painting too, because I screw that up as much or more than I do the drawing.

Oh, hell. I've added onto the ancient thread. Oh well.
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Old 05-29-2006, 11:34 AM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

Charcoal or chalk...the former to draw in the work, the latter to draw in adjustments after painting is underway.

Both let you brush lines you want to eliminate with ease.
Both can be painted on or over with ease.
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Old 05-29-2006, 12:21 PM
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Re: Preparatory drawing on canvass before painting

I've never used a grid but, have been curious about them so this is very interesting to me. I'm a free hander. I've always drawn free hand and wonder if I can use a grid or get impatient with it. But, this has been quite helpful. thanks for asking.

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