Experiment with colored pencils on canvas

Posted by Yelena Shabrova

Following up on my initial idea of trying colored pencils on a canvas, I bought a pack of 5 2.5″ x 3.5″ primed canvases in Aaron Brothers and started with the first canvas the same day. It’s a remarkable thing for me; usually it takes days, if not weeks, to progress from an idea to something material. Here is the result:

miniature - 3.5 x 2.5, colored pencil in canvas

It’s doable! And I like the effect that the rough support gives to the drawing. It reminds me of heavy cold pressed watercolor paper. Just like with that paper, canvas is lead hungry. It gobbles up serious amounts of colored pencil in no time at all, and I had to sharpen pencils more often than with most types of paper. On a positive side, a canvas leaves more room for mixing colors. A few things that I didn’t like I was able to scratch off with a fingernail and cover with new layers. No ill effects of doing so; the canvas does not seem to wear out at all.

I still need to get a better grasp of the whole thing, but when i am through this pack of canvases I think I will move to a bigger size. My first ides that never came to fruition was to wrap cold pressed watercolor paper around the stretcher. I even bought the small stretcher, and that was it. Wetting the paper, stretching it, drying it, seeing if drawing on that was plausible, and dealing with a possible fail was too much trouble. I wonder why I didn’t think of the canvas back then.

Speaking of the packs: not a single one in the store had 5 more or less rectangular canvases. A common case was 2-3 arbitrary quadrangles per pack that just look bad, so ordering online is not an option. I do want to continue with these tiny drawings.

5 thoughts on “Experiment with colored pencils on canvas

  1. Eugene Hammiel

    Hello colored pencil artist, I have been experimenting with colored pencil on canvas for the last few weeks and I have been having to much fun with it. What I did was used watersolable colored pencils to lay down the first layer, then I used a brush with water to blend. Then I repeated the process. Near the end I used fixitive spray to allow me to lay down one more layer of color, then once more fixitive to keep the painting from smearing it touched by anyone.

    Reply
  2. Joanne Coleman

    Hi, i am just about to start a pencil work on canvas and was wondering what you use as a final protective layer to keep dust and other marks from staining the picture, thankyou, could you email your answer to me as i will probably forget to look here. :D

    Reply
    1. Yelena Post author

      Joanne, I use the Lascaux fine art fixative. It dries very quickly, is UV protectant, does not change the colors at all after it dries. In my testing I found out that it protects not only from stains and dust, but also from small drops of water – no trace at all if you wipe it out fairly quickly.

      I use the matte variety; it also comes as glossy. If you can’t get that, any archival spray for charcoal, pastel, or other dry media should work as well.

      Reply
  3. Vincent Consiglio

    Hi, I saw your color pencils experiment on canvas and I wonder to know if you reached best results than first one.
    You and few others have had a good intuition about color pencils but it’s too easy use them on canvas and be helped by wet brushes to blend colors. I agree you have been experimenting but try to use just color pencils and what you need to blend colors without any use of brushes!
    If you use also brushes it’s not a pure color pencils painting!
    I don’t know if this site is still active or not, but if you can read me please watch what I mean for pure color pencils painting.
    Best regards
    Vincent

    Reply

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