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Drawing problems on stained canvas.

Can anyone suggest a good marker to draw on a stained canvas. I use a yellow pencil as recommended by Mark but it is too slippy and does not make a good definite contrast. It is often too faint to be helpful. I don’t want anything too complicated. i.e. charcoal and fixer etc. Just something to make a fine dark line which is easy to make out and can be painted over without problems. A solution would really help the accuracy and position placement of paint.
‘Thank you’
Ossie ...


  • I've heard that white chalk works well (in a pencil form)
  • Ossie

    Make it easy on yourself. Fine point Sharpie. Dark, fine, high contrast, permanent, waterproof.


  • As odd as it may sound, try licking (moistening) the yellow pencil tip. If it's anything like normal white pencils (such as the ones we use at my old upholstery job) the moisture will increase the softness and writing capability on difficult surfaces. My boss would just regularly dab the tip on his tongue when trying to mark out difficult fabrics. If that seems gross, just use a damp paper towel. Again, not sure if this will work on that pencil brand/type, but it generally works on all Crayola type waxed coloured pencils.
  • Have you considered pencils by STABILLO?  Not sure of the spelling, but every art supplier carries them.  They are advertised to "write on anything."  I've used them for years, and so far, they "write on everything."  They have a wax base.  Wax is absorbed, or taken up by oil paint.  They come in various colors.  If you haven't tried them, you might consider it.
  • I have tried most of what is recommended here and the best solution for me, for drawing and painting too, is to make sure you have a flat or matte ground.  Then you can use about any kind of marking device and it works fine.  I will, for the first time ever, disagree with Denis.  When I used a sharpie I had terrible bleed thru.  Maybe they sell better ones in Australia.  Watch Mark's video on his new stain or use a tinted acrylic gesso.
  • I used a sharpie once too and the lines became visible even after two or three layers of paint.. never again!
  • I've been using a yellow Stabilo pencil on the Geneva canvas stain. It's OK. Not great but it works. The stain MUST BE TOTALLY DRY. That can take a week or more depending on temp and humidity.  I also use vine charcoal to show dark values. I like it because it is easily rubbed off when I make a mistake. Put a fixative on it before painting so it will be there as you paint. I've read that it also minimizes the likelihood that it will show through. In my "vast"  =) experience  of 2 paintings it has worked so far. 
  • Thanks @MikeDerby, you answered my question on the bleed through. I sanded the stained surface (linen covered panel) with 120 grit very lightly and that helped. I'm using the naples yellow pencil recommended by Mark and for value lines a white charcoal pencil.
  • I used markers. I've tried A LOT of them. Tooli-Art 30 Acrylic Paint Pens brand of pen writes smoothly on a variety of surfaces, very good to use. 
  • One option is Conte sketching pencils.  They are still a bit faint, but if you use the Sanguine colors it's more noticeable than yellow pencil (at least if you're starting on a lighter toned canvas). 
  • I’ve been using Pilot Color Eno mechanical pencils, I have them in several colors (red, orange, green, etc), it’s fun to mix it up every so often. It works better on a more smooth surface though, so I sand the primed canvas down a bit before staining it.
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