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Blog Category: Icarus Technique

Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final Post

"Symbiosis"

Below are the steps I followed to mount my artwork on canvas and varnish it.

Trimming the canvasTrimmed canvas

 

Left - after spraying the canvas with 5 coats of Prismacolor Final Fixative Gloss, and letting it cure overnight, I trimmed away the white boarder.

Right - the canvas is now trimmed and ready for mounting.

Mounting toolsPressing with a brayer

 

Left - for mounting I used Frank's PH Fabric Adhesive (purchased from my framer) and a foam roller. I apply this type of adhesive only to canvas or fabric in general. When mounting paper I prefer to use Grafix Double Tack Mounting Film (for more on this subject please visit my post on Glassless Framing).

Right - after mounting the canvas on my Ampersand Claybord with 3/4" cradle, I rolled a brayer all over the surface, paying particular attention to corners and edges.

Under books overnightTrimming the edges

 

Left - I then placed the canvas-mounted board upside down under heavy books overnight.

Right - in the morning I carefully trimmed the canvas around the edges of the board. I had originally extended the drawing a quarter inch all around to account for possible misalignment during mounting.

Left-over stubbleCleaned-up edges

 

Left - as you can see some stubble was left over after trimming.

Right - I cleaned up the fuzz with a fine grade sandpaper.

Painting the sidesPainted sides

 

Left - I finally began to paint the sides of the cradled board with acrylic. I applied three coats.

Right - the sides are all painted.

Varnishing toolsRaised board

 

Left - here's everything I used for varnishing: Golden Polymer Varnish with UVLS Gloss, a container for mixing the varnish, a small measuring cup, a wide brush for the top surface, and a smaller brush for the sides. I mixed one part water to two parts varnish.

Right - after elevating the board from the table I began varnishing the top.

Wet varnishVarnishing the sides

 

Left - notice how the first coat of varnish looks while still wet. I painted four coats, waiting three hours in between.

Right - I used the small brush to spread the varnish drips all over the sides. I like the sides to be as glossy as the top surface.

Varnished and framedClose-up

 

Left - after curing for a week, the panel was finally framed without glass.

Right - Here you can see a close-up of the frame and panel.

CONCLUSIONS:

Why did I do all this? Well, I wanted to experiment with canvas and the Icarus board. I clearly could not have used stretched canvas and did not want to use 1/8" canvas panels. These panels are a good option for artists who work with the Icarus board. However I like my art to be mounted on panels with at least 3/4" cradle so I needed to use canvas by the yard.

The best discovery I made during this experiment is to apply one coat of Art Spectrum Colourfix Clear Primer on the acrylic painted canvas. This establishes an amazing ground for any type of drawing medium so that it can strongly adhere to the canvas. Colourfix primer can be applied directly to the canvas without an acrylic underpainting, if one chooses to do so. (edited 10/9/11)

Perhaps in the future I will experiment with artist crayons and oil pastels on canvas and the Icarus board. These mediums lend themselves to larger and looser applications.

I'm very happy with my finished artwork. Coming from an oil paint background I can tell you that it looks better than any of my old oil paintings. These were never varnished (who wants to wait six months?) and appear blotchy and uneven.

To read the two previous posts on "Canvas and the Icarus Board", please click on the following links:

Canvas and the Icarus Board
Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2

If you are interested in how I mount and frame my artwork on paper without glass, please click on this link:

Glassless Framing

Thank you for reading my blog! Feel free to comment or ask questions.

 

Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2

Symbiosis

As you can see, I'm finally finished with my experiment on canvas (16'' x 24'').

It hasn't been an easy ride. While family and business obligations kept interrupting my creative process, the other reason it took me so long is that I chose a very complex subject in addition to a brand new technique.

If you need to refresh your memory, you can review the first blog post here: Canvas and the Icarus Board.

As I was layering the colored pencils on the acrylic-painted canvas, I became increasingly unsatisfied. The waxy pigment wasn't adhering nor covering as well as I had hoped. After many hours of trials and errors I finally came to an acceptable solution (see red type below).

Following are steps and suggestions:

  • Purchase acrylic gesso primed cotton canvas by the yard - tightly woven is best suited - do not use coarse textured canvas.
  • Cut a piece of canvas about an inch wider on each side than the final size.
  • Trace your drawing with colored pencils using a light box or a window.
  • Extend the drawing a quarter inch all around to account for possible misalignment during mounting.
  • Block-in the colors using acrylics - make sure to cover the whole canvas with paint.
  • With a sponge roller apply an even layer of Art Spectrum Colourfix Clear Primer. This simple step will help colored pencil adhere well to the acrylic painted canvas.
  • After the primer is completely dry (I waited 24 hours), you can begin layering your wax-based colored pencils on the Icarus Drawing Board at medium heat. High heat will help you blend large areas.
  • As a last step, clean up all your whites, edges, and details on the cool zone.

Below is a picture of all the colored pencils that I used in this project:

Colored Pencils Used

I'm planning to spray fixative, mount the canvas on a cradled board, varnish it, and frame it. I will have more images and give you my final thoughts on a third blog post.

For more on "Canvas and the Icarus Board" please click on the following links:

Canvas and the Icarus Board
Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final Post

 

Canvas and the Icarus Board

I'm experimenting with canvas and mixed media using the Icarus Drawing Board.

I purchased a few yards of primed cotton canvas (very inexpensive) from my local art supply store .

Then I cut a piece of canvas about an inch wider on each side than the final size (artwork will be 16" x 24", canvas is 18" x 26").

I enlarged my original graphite drawing with this free program: PosteRazor. I love this make-your-own-poster program!

After assembling the poster together, I taped it to the canvas. I then traced the drawing with colored pencils using a light box. I extended the drawing a quarter inch all around (16.5" x 24.5") to account for possible misalignment during mounting. Yes, I will eventually mount the canvas on a cradled board.

Finally I blocked-in the colors using acrylic paint. I wasn't very meticulous in this phase because I knew I would develop a second layer with colored pencils. However I made sure to cover the whole canvas with paint, even the white areas.

In the example below, you can see a close-up of the first layer (this section is about 3" x 9"). Of course there's no need for heat when painting in acrylic unless you want it to dry even quicker.

First Layer: Acrylic

The second and final layer was accomplished on the Icarus board with wax-based colored pencils using medium heat. See image below.

Second Layer: Colored Pencil

The colored pencils blended effortlessly on the warm canvas. I was also surprised that I was able to obtain pretty fine details in relation to the size of the artwork.

In the picture below you can see what colored pencils and tools I've been using so far.

Colored Pencils & Tools

I'm really having fun with this project but I don't know how it's going to turn out yet. I will post the finished artwork in about two weeks. I'm sure I'll be able to share a lot more about the experience of working with canvas on the Icarus board.

For more on "Canvas and the Icarus Board" please click on the following links:

Canvas and the Icarus Board: Part 2

Canvas and the Icarus Board: Final Post

 

“Mussel Shell” Project on YouTube

I just posted a new playlist of 17 video clips on our Icarus Art YouTube Channel. It's a condensed, sixty-minute video library of  a project called "Mussel Shell" from my 2010 CPSA workshop "Wax and Heat, a Match Made in Heaven".

For my workshop attendees this is a great opportunity to review the techniques learned last summer. For everybody else it's like taking a workshop for free. All voiced-over video clips are available in high definition and come with a downloadable supply list, an outline of the project, and an image of the finished mussel shell.

I hope you all enjoy practicing and/or learning the Icarus technique. You are always welcome to post comments and ask questions either on this blog or on YouTube.

View this playlist on Youtube.

 

New Videos on YouTube

Check out my latest playlist on YouTube. It's a series of exercises on Art Spectrum Colourfix Paper, one of my favorite surfaces. In the next several months all the videos from my workshop "Wax and Heat, a Match Made in Heaven" will be voiced over and uploaded on the Icarus Art channel. Artists who couldn't attend my workshop will have the opportunity to view the videos and practice the techniques.

If you have not already, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel!

 

Icarus Art YouTube Channel

Icarus Art is now on YouTube. The first series of video clips is a short introduction to the Icarus Technique and the Icarus Drawing Board. You can see how I organize my workstation and how I use some of my favorite tools.

I have also posted a video on how to create a monotype with the Icarus Board.

This is just the beginning. I will upload more videos soon.

 

A Shortcut for Details

I'm working on a very detailed pebble piece. I'm combining Prismacolor colored pencil, Neopastel oil pastels & Neocolor artist crayons on Colourfix paper. I'm eager to show you a small (2"x2"), abstract close-up of my painting (18"x18") and explain the shortcuts I've taken to get around all the details.

1. Photo Cropping2. Line Drawing

 

1. This is a cropping of  the original photo. Even though it's very blurry you can still see all the intricate details.

2. On my line drawing I focus on the essential lines and not the confusing details.

3. Blocking-in Colors4. Melting

 

3. On the cool zone I block-in the colors with a combination of oil pastels and artist crayons.

4. I move my artwork to the warm zone of the Icarus board (high temperature) and melt all the colors with a color shaper. The waxy pigments settle into the hills and valleys of the paper, leaving plenty of texture for further layering.

5. Preparing Eraser6. Lifting Color

 

5. I'm preparing my Sakura battery-operated eraser by cleaning and flattening the tip on sand paper.

6. Here you can see how easily the pigment is lifted from the surface. By using the flat edge of the eraser point, I can achieve a very fine line.

7. Lifting Color8. Finishing

 

7. I lift all the waxy pigments until the white of the paper shows through.

8. I can now develop the colors and values and finish the details with colored pencils. During this phase I lower the Icarus Board temperature to a medium setting.

This shortcut allowed me to work from "large" to "small" without getting bogged down in details too early in the process.

 

Time Saving Tip on Blending

Blending artist crayon or oil pastel with colored pencil can be broken down into four steps.

  • Step 1 - Layering artist crayon on the cool zone
  • Step 2 - Melting artist crayon on the warm zone with a color shaper
  • Step 3 - Layering colored pencil on the cool zone using side of pencil
  • Step 4 - Blending artist crayon and colored pencil with a paper stump

1. Layering AC 2. Melting AC

 

3. Layering CP 4. Blending AC and CP

 

In the two examples below, you can see that this process can be reduced to two simple steps. While the colored pencil is blending with the crayon, it is also functioning as a melting tool.

This is a nice shortcut that works well for small areas. When blending large areas, I prefer to first melt the crayon and then layer and blend the colored pencil.

1. Layering AC 2. Melting and Blending

 

 

Sanded Pastel Paper and the Icarus Board

I love working with sanded pastel paper. My favorite is Colourfix Coated Pastel Paper by Art Spectrum. It's a wonderfully versatile archival surface  that "withstands all manner of artistic experimentation." One of these, and not the least in order of importance, is the application of heat.

In the examples below you can see how I develop a flower petal with Prismacolor Colored Pencils and Caran d'Ache Neocolor II Wax Crayons.

Step 1Step 2

 

Step 1: After finishing the first petal, I'm getting ready to begin the second one.
Step 2: On the cool zone and with sharp Neocolors, I block in all the local colors of the petal. The tooth of the paper easily captures the waxy pigments.

Step 3Step 3 - detail

 

Step 3: After moving the paper to the warm zone, I begin melting the waxy pigments with a taper point color shaper. It's a simple process that can also be accomplished with a flat chisel color shaper (use the side of the tip for melting). This approach is much faster and gives you more control than adding water to Neocolor II. First of all there is no wait for the paper to dry - the melted pigments solidify as soon as the paper is removed from the heat - and the intensity and hue of the color do not diminish. Besides, it is so much fun I just can't get enough.

Step 4Step 5

 

Step 4: The petal is now covered by a thin layer of melted pigments that I like to call "wax foundation."
Step 5: On the warm zone, with a sharp white Verithin I penetrate the previous layer and create fine ridges that will become the petal's veins.

Step 6Step 6 - detail

 

Step 6: Here I'm developing the colors and the details of the petals. The layering of colored pencils is accomplished with Prismacolor Premier using the side of the pencil point. On the warm zone the waxy pigments melt and blend in with the foundation; on the cool zone they will sit on top for optical mixing. Sharp Verithin pencils are used for details and fine lines.