August 7, 2008 at 10:21 pm 1 comment

Recently I began using chalk in my art.

It was a real forehead-slapping moment when I started using it. Why didn’t I think of this sooner? But that’s how things often work for me: the simplest solution is typically not the first solution I think of. Sometimes I have to do things the hard way before I figure out there’s an easy way.

Before, I started by sketching the painting in pencil on the white canvas.

White canvas with pencil sketch

White canvas with pencil sketch

Then I would go over the pencil in dark blue paint…

White canvas with blue paint

White canvas with blue paint (this is a different painting)

… wait for the blue paint to dry, erase the pencil, coat the blue paint in a layer of matte medium to keep it from lifting, wait for that to dry, and then coat the canvas in red paint (and of course wait for that to dry).

Red canvas with darks painted in

Red canvas with darks painted in (yet another painting)

The blue would barely show through the red, just enough for me to see where everything goes. I would have to start the actual painting process by going back over the barely visible “sketch” with a new layer of dark color (usually a deep blackish purple). Talk about time consuming!

Eventually it occurred to me that I could skip all the pencil-and-blue-paint stuff by painting the canvas solid red first and then just sketching on top of that. The only question was what to use. Pencil won’t work because it won’t show on red. A white grease pencil would show just fine, but I worried that it would cause adhesion problems with the paint layers, not to mention being hard to erase. I could “sketch” in some diluted paint, but “erasing” would then be a tedious process of waiting for it to dry so I can paint more red over it, and waiting for THAT to dry before being able to proceed. That just wasn’t going to fly!

Finally, I realized that simple white chalk would work. I went and got some chalk.

Chalk works great! The white shows up perfectly on the deep red background. Erasing is very easy, just a quick rub with a fingertip or a damp paper towel.

Red canvases with chalk sketches

Red canvases with chalk sketches (two entirely new paintings in progress right now)

Why didn’t I think of this sooner?

Entry filed under: Acrylic, Landscape, Painting, Process.

Photos from the 2008 Malibu Arts Festival Inspiration: Georges Seurat

1 Comment

  • 1. cynthia  |  August 9, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Thanks so much for your comment the other day on my blog – much appreciated!

    Back when I was painting on canvas – I loved starting out with an orange or red background. Somehow the white was too stark for me.

    And, I have those moments all the time where something so obvious is discovered after trying to make the task more difficult that it has to be.

Barbara J Carter

I'm an artist. I make paintings with dots.

I work in acrylic paint, in a couple of distinct styles: landscapes and abstracts.

Native to California, I've lived elsewhere and only recently returned to my home state. I now live in Los Angeles.

I mostly show my art in outdoor festivals in California. I also occasionally show my work in art galleries or open studio events. You can see an up-to-date list of upcoming shows on my website (click here).

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