I’m Losing My Lines….What Can I Possibly Do

Darrell, I have used carbon paper to transfer an enlarged outline to a dry canvas, but when I put on the medium white, I sometimes loose the lines. I need to put darker lines or be very careful when putting on the medium white. Any suggestions on how to keep from losing your lines? Paul.

Paul, If you’re losing your lines, here’s a great suggestion I discovered when learning to paint portraits and it has served me well in complicated landscapes, portraits and tall ships.

Paint your canvas with a gray gesso. I take gray gesso out of the bottle and mix it with some white gesso. Just to make the gray a couple shades (Noticeable) lighter than “out-of-the-bottle.” After the lightened gray gesso has dried, I’ll transfer my drawing to the canvas by using graphite transfer paper. I’ve tried carbon paper, but it’s difficult to work and frequently counterproductive. I’ll then load a #2 liner brush loaded with the “out-of-the-bottle” gray and paint all lines with the darker gray. The lines will now be distinct and will show through either medium clear or medium white. (Caution, they will not show through a darker than grey medium i.e…. medium black) Apply medium and paint as you normally would. The dark lines will show through the medium, but be covered when you apply paint. Furthermore, if you ever decide to change your mind on the painting you can use a wipe-out tool or paint eraser to get back to the raw canvas and your lines will still be there. Darrell