Friday, September 18, 2009

More Drawing and Painting on Canvas (about pens)

I was painting one of my large and more difficult Talavera crosses last week (this seems to be the Month of Talavera for some reason), and decided to take a few pictures as I go along to illustrate some of the process.

When drawing a design onto canvas for commercial reproduction, one must especially take care that the correct materials are used - beginning with the drawing pen. As I've said, for many many years, all that was available that was safe was the Pilot black pen (this became available in red and blue several years ago, but I didn't have any use for those colors, as they were too bright).

This pilot pen was available at most needlepoint shop, as the preferred pen, and I bought mine for many years from my wholesaler in boxes of 12. Needless to say, I'm delighted with the colored Sharpies now available, as it makes my drawing more efficient.

The example here is the diaper pattern (latticework) on the background of this cross. It's a medium blue when painted, but drawing it with the Sharpie ultra fine point light blue pen makes it much much easier not to confuse with the black lines when I start painting, as the design is totally stitch drawn. The drawing pen is just that - it is for DRAWING, and not for painting. I will custom mix the blue I need in paint, and go over these blue lines later. This really makes it easier, and the lighit blue of the drawing pen won't show through the paint. Also, I used a light orange to mark where the small orange areas will be, as the black ink is hard to cover, and there is no outline in this area to mask it. The yellow is paint. I had already done that when I decided to take pictures.

This is important, as a canvas that is painted for wholesale marketing must look NICE when on the wall in a shop. A good drawing is also the foundation of a painted canvas that separates the good from the bad, in that a well drawn pattern is easier to paint, and therefore easy to stitch.

Also, there is the time factor. It would be counter-productive to be drawing every little area with a different colored pen - it just isn't necessary! Nor is any other time consuming activity, such as heat setting ink that isn't color fast or that won't dry immediately. (also, heat setting would damage the canvas - weaken the sizing and probably turn it yellow)
Next is showing the beginning of the painting process. If there were a green paint pen this exact color, I might use it - but it's much much less expensive anyway and generally faster to just use the good old paint and brush. NEVER use cheap brushes, as needlepoint canvas chews them up fast, and it's totally aggravating to try to do precision edges with a worn out paint brush. I'm showing the correct position of the painting - the flat, chisel edge of the brush is up against the line - with a good brush in good condition, this is extremely easy.

The second "painting in process" picture shows cleaning up the outline and filling in tiny spaces with a round pointed #2 brush - not a "liner," but just a "pointed" paint brush. You can see in this case that the green paint covers the black ink lines well - so no need to go scratch up a green drawing pen, although I do have one. This is more efficient, as I didn't have to stop and start, put one pen down and open another, etc.
Also, there is a dark green outline added that would cover the black ink even if it did show.
Also, NEVER use the "shader," as the bristles are long, so are too soft to smush the paint easily down into the canvas. I use sable brights when painting my better canvases in oil, but for small things for which I don't want to spend a lot of time mixing colors, I just use little bottles of acrylic. My fine sable brushes don't like acrylic paint, so I buy something else at the craft store.

I've just discovered these fine little plastic containers made by Rubbermaid. The acrylic paint will stay wet for a week or more, and as I always mix my colors, even the bottled kind, it's essential that I be able to keep the mixtures I use most.

I've already shown the use of the PAINT pen in a previous post - the one where I painted the white lines on top of the already painted blue area. This saved lots and lots of time in assembly line painting several of the little crosses at once, as it cut down on processes.

So - to make a long story short, drawing pens are for drawing on canvas, and paint pens are for painting. If one is so fortunate as to need the exact color of one of the paint pens, it's fairly easy to just use it - however, it's quicker and more efficient to do it with just plain old paint and a brush. Absolutely no need to have a huge stash of assorted markers and pens etc. These can run into an expense, whereas the little bottles of paint and few paint brushes of different sizes are much less expensive and a lot more efficient in the long run.


  1. I want to learn how to paint a canvas. This is all very good information. Now I know what kind of brushes to buy. I might get brave enough to try it now. Thanks!

  2. Looks amazing!!!! /I look forward to your feedback /thanks for this man it was very helpful.
    oil painting on canvas