I had bought a couple canvas panels with the intention of painting 2 large mandalas to decorate my booth at the Louisville Psychic and Paranormal Gathering, on July (have I told you I’ll be there?) My experience with canvas is limited to a little experiment I’ve done several years ago, using oils. I didn’t really get excited with the little painting, and never touched oils or canvas again. I’m not going to revisit oils so soon — I am the type of person who wants all-at-the-same-time-now and not very patient to wait ages until a piece gets dry –, but moving my hands over canvas again has been, if not a fully satisfactory, at least a fun experience.
My first mandala is inspired on peacocks and I wanted a big one right on the center. Didn’t take long to perceive how the graphite pencils I use feel awful on canvas. But I liked the first lines done with acrylics (Payne’s grey, one of my favorite colors and always very handy for shading and outlining). It also felt good to work big! These panels are 24 x 36 inches, which is the largest area I ever worked on.
I just wanted to get adventurous. It feels good to think that you can make mistakes and fix them as much as you can. This is a good thing about working on canvas. When you are dealing with paper, you don’t have a lot of room for mistakes due to the fragility of the support, everything has to be carefully planned beforehand. Even illustration board, sturdy as it is, has its limits. And feeling pressured to do “right” definitely is not a good thing. Score to the canvas.
Of course I couldn’t wait until the peacock was done to start experimenting with my traditional stuff. I found out that colored pencils work way better on the toothed surface than regular pencils and started to sketch a self-portrait, on ocre + alizarin crimson washes.
First glazes with acrylics. White layers on the skin. I love this ghostly looks.
Ebony graphite pencil to reinforce the outlines and try some kind of shading. White pastel for the highlights. At this point I am a little frustrated because I will never achieve the type of precision I do when working on a smoother surface. But on the other hand, the loose lines are a pleasure to do, along with the more gestural, expressive strokes.
I am running away from the feel of traditional painting like the devil from the cross. I kind of like the direction the work is taking now, looks more like my type of stuff. However, I am not really in love with the canvas. It’s still hard to tell where I am going; some parts of the painting really please me, some not. I am now seriously thinking about trying gessoed masonite, but don’t know how my pencil will come out. Anybody here did have tried it yet?