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.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Working with Pens (and still learning!)

For almost 40 years, I've used almost exclusively the Pilot black drawing pen I mentioned here several times, as there were no colored ones that were safe to use, to my knowledge.

In the past year, I've become acquainted with the Sharpie ultra fine point and fine point permanent pens, and am really enjoying them for certain phases of designing - drawing, not coloring in spaces, as they don't look quite right for it, resembling crude crayon drawings. (I tried it) This has solved a lot of problems for me when putting a design onto canvas either for myself or for wholesale distribution.

Black ink tends to show through the paint, giving the area an unattractive outline, so I usually save the almost worn out ones for making lighter outlines. For something like the Talavera pieces, which have navy outlines around the pattern elements, it doesn't matter, as the paint covers well.

This is a new design, one of four small, ornament size crosses I've put onto canvas this week - and the colored pens have solved several of these problems.

The little ceramic cross, from which I adapted this one, has light green lines just inside the dark lines - so I used the Sharpie drawing pen to draw it in so I wouldn't inadvertantly cover this area with paint when filling in the darker color - then I went back and with paint and a brush and painted over the green line so it would be the correct color. Unfortunately, the color range is very limited in these colored pens - only 24 to 26 colors, and custom mixes aren't possible.

The arrow pointing to the little square at the bottom is only to show where I centered the diaper pattern.

There is a light blue outline around some of the pattern - the red flower at the top - but unfortunately, the DecoColor pens I have recently come to really enjoy, don't come in the right color - This is unfortunate about these wonderful paint pens, as it really would save a lot of time in outlining, etc. Sooooo I had to do as always, and use a brush and paint for the outline.
I painted this Zebra skin mini-stocking today, and it was a big relief to just get out a green DecoColor pen to mark the dots as a guide for the "lace trim" I use here. Before paint pens, I had to, again, use a bottle of paint and a brush - This was much faster, and looks fine. I used the DecoColor fine point for this one, rather than ultra fine.

A word about these pens - I usually try out everything myself to make SURE it is totally safe on needlepoint canvas, but a good friend whose work I admire greatly, told me about them. She has marketed nationally for a number of years, so I trust her judgment. She uses them to actually paint some of her very simple (but wonderful and effective) small canvases, as they cover beautifully, whereas the Sharpie pens don't. I can't use them a lot, as most of my colors have to be mixed. Pity. However, they do solve a lot of problems for me.

There are different pens for different phases of putting a design onto canvas or marking - so it isn't just a matter of choosing an array of pens. One must be sure of what they'll be used for, as they perform differently. An example is here - another of my new designs. I decided to stitch this one, but rarely bother to take the time to paint it for myself. Besides, I enjoy watching it come to life on a white canvas with colored threads.
On this one, I intend to use the Kreinik #032 braid, which is a white metallic, and was afraid the black ink might show through - so I used a light blue Sharpie ultra fine point pen to draw this fretwork. Also, it saves the confusion of the line being up against the line of the leaf.
On the painted version, it was just soooo easy to paint the area in solid blue (with brush and paint) and then draw the fretwork on with the WHITE DecoColor pen. (fine point) This works better and faster for this process than paint and brush! Previously, I would have painted the area blue, then drawn the fretwork with the black pen, and painted over it with brush and white paint. An improvement!!!!
Also I was thrilled to find this pen, as it's the only one I've tried that really works well on black canvas for drawing (I use ultra fine for drawing) There is one I tried first that wants to "puddle" now and then - that is, paint dribbles down the point and makes a blob on the canvas. Aggravating!
Incidentally, these pens are also dry-clean proof, which is a consideration especially for larger pieces. Just being waterproof for wet blocking isn't enough. If the ink isn't permanent against dry cleaning fluid, the lines can lift to the top of the work and totally ruin it - I've seen this happen several times, and it's a tragedy.

Monday, September 7, 2009

New Tutorials!

No picture this morning, as I haven't had enough coffee yet. I have been thinking recently about doing some tutorials in designing your own projects and "how to's" rather than just patterns to copy - it might be of more use.

Several things prompted this move: One is the questions I get via comments, as I have no way to reply to them. These come to my e-mail via "no-reply" mail, so I can't answer them. (My e-mail address is clearly seen on my profile - just go to "About Me" on the side bar and click on "my profile" down at the bottom.) I truly enjoy answering questions and helping any way I can - sharing my 40 years of experience in designing and marketing hand painted needlepoint canvases, along with teaching and writing about it.

Another prompt is an article I have seen in the last few days about drawing pens in a nationally distributed needlepoint publication - (I get an advance copy of this.) The information is misleading, and almost ludicrous, and it frightens me that someone would be put off from an otherwise enjoyable hobby by faulty information leading to a bad experience.

This also holds true in several different books, articles and blogs on drawing and painting needlepoint canvases. Often the people who write these apparently have little or no knowledge in this arena. Nothing works so well as years of trial and error, experience, and plain old common sense!! As Michaelangelo said in his old age: "I am still learning." It needn't be as complicated or mysterious as people are telling., and is actually a simple and inexpensive way to create your own needlepoint projects. (and thereby saving money to buy wonderful threads and beads, etc.)

Anyway, I received a question about belts - but I have no idea what kind of belt, for whom, what style, male or female, child or adult - what? Sooooo I decided the best thing to do is to start with a mini-tutorial on painting your own canvas as a "point of departure." Later, though, as it will take a little while to get it together.

As for the belts - these are lots of fun, and I have taught a number of people to do their own, as it's more creative and fun to do one's own, and also saves the price of a commercial designer. I have one friend who has done plaids, camouflage, Pucci patterns, Nautical flags, monograms and names, - all kinds of things. She even did collars for all the family dogs.

For a beginning tip, there is a tutorial on an edge stitch (long-armed cross stitch) for belts and other small things under "stitching" on the side bar - down at the bottom of the page. Also, the canvas preparation for the napkin rings is basically the same - the belt just needs to be long, in the required measurement. One must consult a finisher for this, as I don't know how much has to be allowed for that. The 1 1/2" wide is pretty standard for belts, as they must fit inside belt loops on the garment.