Art: Starting with canvas/oils

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  1. #1
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    Question Starting with canvas/oils

    Hey guys, I've not been posting a lot in a while, but now I need your help, I need some tips on working on canvas ( I'm about to start on my first canvas painting ), for instance:

    Can I draw on it with a pencil?
    Does it react differently or similar to paper, as far as paint goes?

    and I could use some tips on using oils before I waste my precious tubes

    Thanks beforehand, guys!

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    Limo one of the best if not the best practices to start painting is with no underdrawing at all..attack the canvas and draw with paint ..jump in ..(it might help to do a previous study in pencil on a separate paper..so you get to know the forms and be confortable with what you are about to paint) Painting alla prima, pushes you to put the right mark on the right spot..learn to "draw with the brush", erase ,wipe off..push and pull paint (treat it as clay),feel those brushtrokes...it all depends how confortable are you with drawing..then painting this way wont be too hard..is just a mater of being confortable with your tools..I advice you to start with small subejcts first..an apple ... set your palette..with the five best colors to learn to mix and not complicate yourself with so many.. (a yellow,blu,red,black and white)..keep many brushes on hand at the same time..at least 5 ,one per color, try to keep them clean ..but dont worry to much about how muddy it gets..thats just practice... a good way to start the canvas..is tone it fresh with turps and a mixture of red and black and touch of yellow/blue..to give it an earthtone.. draw a few lines to guide you and then start slapping paint..not to thick lay a few tones.. start with the big tones and then go smaller and smaller... dark to light..although sometimes it doesnt matter..just becareful with the powerful white... use the black to tone down a color..not too much cause it will look dull..try to mix your complements out of those five colors..remember the masterpieces rembrandt,rubens,velasquez painted with so few colors....sometimes sketch only with black and white..is fun..but really do paint with no underdrawing for a while so you really learn to move the masses, light,tone,shapes at the same time..this is the most difficult way to paint..(as stated by bougearau and Michaelangelo..(well i want to compare fresco painting with alla prima in which you dont have much time to think about glazes and long term painting..which i would recomend you learn after you are confortable with alla prima..since most beginners confronted with an underdrawing..tend to just fill in the shapes and are scared of outlines..in painting there is no lines..(well in this kinda of painting..)only mass and light..this will help you disregard the linear approach ..

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    Wow, great reply, thanks a lot! I'm now pretty sure I won't use an underdrawing, at school we do use those, but I do sometimes get the "empty lines" thing, but I work them out later.

    Thanks a lot!

    I could float here forever...
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    I found that quite helpful too.

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    I did a tonal underpainting ( griselle ) with burnt umber to get tones and composition right before painting. The nice thing about this is when I painted over the still uncured griselle, it blended with my paints, yielding all sorts of nice tones. At this stage, I could work in the middle tones, and the shading. Then I let the painting dry so I could work in the few, bright hilights.

    It came out pretty well. I need to do another....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Limo
    Can I draw on it with a pencil?
    You can, but graphite will tend to show through the subsequent paint layers, better to either do the underdrawing in thin paint or light charcoal then fixative.

    If you must use pencil, keep it very light and remove most of it before you start painting.

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    You can call it cheating, I think it is genius

    A friend of mine made a charcoal drawing on the canvas without holding back the darks. When I saw it, I thought "What is she doing?!!" Then I saw the finished painting and it was awesome. I asked her how did she do it. Spray fix it with clear acrylic with good coats. Drawbacks: the spray is expensive if you use it up every 2 or 3 paintings.

    Last edited by SergioAntonio; June 29th, 2006 at 10:48 AM. Reason: mispelled
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    Whats the point of such a finished drawing if your only going to paint over it?

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    Most fixatives contain synthetic resins which I'm rather suspicious of, certainly would avoid heavy coats. It can also cause adhesion and beading up problems with the oil. The pigment in pastels are a bit more compatible than charcoal, but you'd still want to dust off excess powder. Diluted paint as Flake suggested is better.

    K4pka, that's a vaild point. I'm not sure folks here are advocating a finished pencil drawing, but I have seen others who work that way, claiming it helps them problem solve details easier. I find it counterproductive; although, I do see a benefit in doing separate pencil studies first.

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    To establish the values. When you add the color, it is easier to know how much to tint or shade the hue if there is a greyscale underneath.

    It doesn't have to been completely finished, as long as the value gradients are clearly defined.

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  12. #11
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    Another drawback is that when you spray fix anything, it tends to darken the marks.


    I often like to paint linear gestures and was very unhappy about the lack of flow of the paint and the fact that you can only make short lines with the amount of paint on the brush, I tried many different ways of diluting the paint to increase flow, but nothing worked. Right now, my best experimentations so far involve pastel crayons to make the lines, and go over them with clear acrylic paint. I retain the lucidity of the gestural lines done with pastels, and they are sealed in by the acrylic. I am still experimenting,

    That is only for linear gestures. For rendered potraits and figures, I still preffer traditional methods of sketching the drawing in with diluted Burnt Umber.

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