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Draw on canvas tool

What do you use to draw on the canvas? First painting I tried a white/ cream colored pencil. There was not enough bite to see my sketch. Second painting I reverted back to vine charcoal with a fixative. I'm tiring of the shadow box but I realize I'm getting better values and I assume it's to the use of the shadow box and color checker. I've guessed at some colors and values and find I'm way off. 


  • Whether your pencil/drawing tool will work on your canvas has a lot to do with how it is prepped. I'm using Soho brand Naples yellow and sometimes white on stained linen. More importantly, don't guess at values ever; trust your color checker. It is never wrong. You just have to get used to it and review Mark's videos on the subject a few more times to get good with it. It's a learning process and takes discipline. After a while you will be mixing colors instinctively and won't need the color checker. The main reason for the shadow box is to control lighting and maintain values consistently.
  • I use wax pencils, oil pastels, vine charcoal (lines fixed with fixative). other times I use diluted oil paint to draw.
  • edited November 2017
    Sometimes I use a white charcoal pencil
  • Anything you should NOT use on the canvas that might mess up the eventual painting that will cover it (can you tell I'm a newby here?)?
  • Graphite can bleed through the paint I believe.
  • cadia said:
    Graphite can bleed through the paint I believe.
    There are two problems to be wary of:

    Your paint can be sufficiently transparent that the pencil line can be visible through the paint.  Remedy this with opaque paint and lighter pencil lines.

    Pencil leaves dust on the surface, and when applying paint over this, the dust can mix with the paint and be visible on the surface.  It is also possible that brushing paint over graphite actively mixes the two, more brushing causing more mixing.  Remedy this by wiping off the dust, and/or applying a fixative.

    By itself, graphite has no motility, and does not travel through paint.

    This is based on what feels like endless research when I was looking for this answer. My issues turned out to be a combination of both problems.  Note that there are lots of anecdotal claims that graphite moves through paint, but no evidence.
  • Mark used to recommend yellow Stabilo pencils, so that’s what I got. I still use them and they work great.
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