Friday, August 12, 2011

TJ's Projects: Canvas vs. Paper

Hello hello everyone!

My first canvas done with watercolors arrived safe and sound at its owner! I figured it would be nice to see the difference between my usual watercolor paper and working on canvas.

Some of you know about the Three Venetian Masks I painted a while back. I love Venetian masks they are mysterious and often full of details. A friend really loved them and asked if it was possible to have it on canvas as well. Well almost anything is possible, so I said ‘Yes of course!!’

So I re-painted it on canvas with...watercolors! I haven’t got the usual in-between pictures. I kinda forgot to keep track of it. This is what I used:

I probably should have taken a picture without both finished pieces hehe. Ah well! Next to the standard things, like brushes, pencils/pen, eraser, paint (which I forgot to add in the picture), I used four extra steps.

1. I retraced the original painting on tracing paper (that's the transparent drawing you see above)
2. I primed the canvas with Watercolor primer from Schmincke (the white bottle in the back)
3. Then I retraced the painting on the canvas by using Saral transfer paper. (the red box on the left)
4. Finally details are added with acrylic ink in white, black and iridescent gold. (the three little bottles in front of the primer.)
Standard canvasses are prepped with a universal primer, suitable for most paintings. However I found that watercolors didn’t really ‘stick’ with this universal primer. So after some research I found a watercolor primer for canvas. A very good product, easy to apply and it dries fairly quickly. You need to add 3 thin layers on your canvas. After drying, you can start painting.

Saral transfer paper in graphite. I love this! A whole new array of possibilities has been opened with this little roll of graphite paper. This medium makes transferring drawings very easy as you can transfer it on e.g. canvas (obviously), wood, ceramic and so on. The graphite lines dissolve in water. Warning: make sure the lines aren't too thick (so not a whole lot of pressure while you trace your drawing) as it will influence your paint color, because the lines give too much pigment and add a touch of greyness when it dissolves. Most people don’t want that…

The actual paint process was a bit tricky as the canvas had a rougher structure than the paper I use. The brush didn't glide quite easily over it, at least not like I'm used to. The watercolor paper I use is quite smooth and the canvas had those little lines…

I guess because of this the waiting for a layer to dry increased by a lot! And I’m not that patient to begin with hehe. So the adding of the layers continued and the details and background are done with the acrylic inks. Finally, I added 3 thin layers of fixative and this also gave it a lovely shine.

I’m very pleased with the end result and I do like both pieces. On the canvas the colors are more vibrant and on the paper it’s softer. It really depends on what you want in the end.

Here’s a picture that I got from the owner. She loves it and I’m really happy it got to her safe and sound! It was such a fun project to do and the first time I really painted on canvas. So not mindless doodling hehe.

Now it's proudly displayed in its new home :D

That's it for now! Questions? Do you have a preference? And do you like Venetian Masks? Some people find them a tad scary...

Enjoy your weekend.



  1. I love the textured look of canvas! But I'm impatient,too, and the dry time would bug me.

  2. Very cool, TJ! It's always fun to try new things and, I've got to say, you work well with both! Still, I think I love your watercolors best -- no surprise, since that's your main medium. It lends a softness to your work that makes the 'sexy' soft and inviting. Don't you dare stop working with canvas, though. What a masterful job!

  3. this is great, I love your style.

  4. TJ, a very interesting project. The Old Masters frequently did underpaintings on canvas with tempera paint. I was taught that approach when I was in art school. I am wondering how covering the canvas with white tempera would work. It might produce an interesting effect!

  5. I love Venetian masks and I think you did a great job with the canvas! Keep at it ;-)

  6. I love the result and the process as well. Big hug to you!

  7. @ Tricia: The extra drying time does bug me as well, but at least I can give people the option for canvas work as well ^_^. I am expanding my skills hehe. Thank You!!

    @ Janene: Thanks so much!! Watercolors will always be my first love! There’s just something so magical how the colors flow on the paper. But like you said, it’s always fun to try new things :D I won’t stop working on canvas! Don’t worry haha.

    @ The Editor: Thanks so much!!

    @ Judie: Ohhh that sounds interesting! Definitely worth the experiment! You never know what cool technique you might encounter ^_^

    @ Deray: Yay!! Thank you Diana :D!

    @ Magikbroom71: Why thank you, Tara :D!!

    @ Encaracolada: Big hugs to you as well! Thanks for always checking in :D Xx

  8. TJ, you have such amazing style. It looks awesome! Looks really great on canvas. Have a great week:)

  9. I adore this watercolor cersion of the Venetion Masks. There's a very special texture, tone, muting and color blending that happens with watercolors that's unique to the medium. The way the mystrerious qaulity of the masks eveidenced in black and white and now in color has been preserved. It's not scary it's emotive and I love it.

  10. Please correct any errors I have made in my comment as my app is not working today.

  11. @ Heart: Hello Heart!! Thanks so much :D *waves*

    @ TT: Ciao TT! Oh I can't seem to edit the errors in my dashboard! But I understand it completely though! You're very kind :D. Thanks so much for strolling by!

  12. Wow!! They are awesome! I love Venetian masks and everything about Venice and the Casanova's era :)

    Keep up the good work! xox

  13. That's pretty cool, thanks for sharing!

  14. @ Bex: Aah I totally agree! I love them and I think I will just run around in Venice when I get there haha. Thanks so much :D

    @ Oscar: Glad you liked it! And welcome!

  15. This is first time I visit your blog and I must say its pretty cool post..

  16. nice illustration! loving the texture ;)

  17. @ Shoaib: Why thanks so much!! :D

    @ Ester: Thank you lady! ^_^


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