Tonight at my weekly Thursday night art class, I started a commission piece of a still life bell pepper. There are many ways to draw on canvas – using pencil, charcoal, thinned down paint etc… – whichever method you choose is based on your personal preferences. I love drawing with thinned down paint because it’s so forgiving, if you mess up, you just wipe off the paint with solvent, but sometimes pencil or charcoal are the better option.
Step 1: Draw grid marks on the canvas so you have reference points when comparing the reference photo to the canvas. I am drawing using a long flat brush and oil paint thinned down with solvent. This canvas is an 8×8 so I quartered the canvas, then quartered each quarter. Some people may be able to draw without the gridlines or with just a quartered grid, but I like the extra lines and they wipe off when you’re done, so there’s no harm done.
Here you can see my grid-lined canvas next to my reference photo which I’m viewing on my Kindle. I actually drew grid marks on my Kindle screen…sounds crazy but it wipes off just fine when I’m done. Note that I’m painting on a toned canvas; I much prefer painting on a toned canvas than a stark white canvas. Also, my reference photo is a square so as to match the shape of my canvas. The original reference photo was rectangular, but I cropped it to as a square to match the canvas.
Step 2: As you begin to draw on the canvas (remember I’m drawing with thinned down paint and a paint brush – not pencil or charcoal), check your lines by using the handle of your brush. Here you can see I’m checking the angle of the green stem on the pepper…
…and here I am comparing the angle to what I’ve drawn. Obviously, the angle of the stem I’ve drawn on the canvas is way off, so I made the correction.
Step 3: Continue drawing, checking your placement via the grid marks and your angles with the handle of your brush. Below is my completed drawing with shadows shaded in.
Here you can see that I’ve wiped out the gridlines…here we have a completed drawing, ready to be painted!
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