Don't Ignore The WhisperIt used to be that when I wanted to draw with graphite or charcoal I worked on paper and framed the final image under glass. But lately, I’ve been working on stretched canvas, incorporating graphite and charcoal with acrylic then covering the completed image with a final coat of varnish. With no need to frame.

The process lets me work larger; gives me the opportunity to use graphite/charcoal which I love working with; and I can still add layers of color and texture which are so important to my work. The only downside to working like this is it sometimes becomes a step-by-step process where I create an interesting background to work with my concept, draw with graphite, then finish with acrylic. It can be difficult to work back into the background and around or over the graphite design – but hey, you just have to jump in and make the changes without fear if you think something’s not working.

This piece “Don’t Ignore the Whisper” is painted on a 24″ x 18″ gallery stretched canvas. I started with a color plan; worked the background with various layers of color and texture (texture meaning gel medium or visual texture created with the paint or a shop towel), then the¬†canvas is covered with a thin layer of TriArt’s dry media ground. When the ground dried, I created the pencil drawing.

The dry media ground is much coarser than most papers so it eats up graphite. It also can make harder grades of pencil appear like softer grades simply by grabbing more of the graphite. Try a sample piece first if the pencil grade is important to you.

When I felt the drawing complete, I topped the canvas with a layer of gloss gel medium, let it dry, then proceeded to paint, mostly with knives and cut stamps. Also note the dark scratches at the bottom of the painting. For these I took a razor blade and scratched into the gel medium then dusted some charcoal into the incisions. The painting gets another layer of gloss gel medium then topped with a layer or two of acrylic varnish (matte for me) and it’s done.