I have not gotten into painting much but I am curious on everyone’s thoughts on under paintings. I don’t understand the idea behind it.
Straight from wiki: -
In art, an underpainting is an initial layer of paint applied to a ground, which serves as a base for subsequent layers of paint. Underpaintings are often monochromatic and help to define color values for later painting.
Mainly I’d say a good guide getting tonal values correct early rather than being thrown by a white board
I do an underpainting about 90% of the time, and they range from very simple to quite detailed. There are plenty of good reasons to do them, but ultimately I like them because they’re sort of like a dress rehearsal for the main show.
I always do a value drawing to get the composition and value structure down. used to do an underpainting, but now just go in with an open grisaille and right for the color. White does through you off, so I either use a neutral gray or a tones panel of ultramarine blue and transparent oxide red to get a warm and cool effect that is random. If you want a very even look to start, use a shop towel to your turp and tone and then a big soft brush to smooth out for even tone on the panel or canvas.
I do go in with an underpainting at times because I love the initial stage of getting the drawing and value structure. Much harder to do intuitively. I highly recommend the grisaille or underpainting!
I’ve tried it before. My thinking was that it would be easier to separate value from color and the finished painting would end up being stronger. I did a black and white underpainting first. Once the underpainting was dry, I just focused on adding the color. For me, it was a fun experiment but I don’t think the resulting painting came out any differently than previous paintings that I completed without an underpainting. I would still recommend trying it to see if it works for you. Even if you don’t see any change in your finished paintings maybe it would make your painting process more enjoyable.
Left image: Completing the underpainting, Right image: The completed oil painting ‘Cabin Interior’
It just seems like an unnecessary step to me… like painting it twice… I’ll definitely give it a try when I get into painting though!! Thanks everyone
The benefit as well as tonal benefit it you can get a very accurate image in place. Greyscale is a lot easier to adjust than colour. Once you have a perfect image in the underpainting you can then build the colour without worry or the draftsmanship. I think it is that really. Reducing the thought processes so only have to concentrate on one thing in each stage. I know it used to be used a lot for very large works as they could not compare so easily while painting to another area.
Hi Leah - did any of the final painting layer involve glazing?
Hi Jeffrey, yes but not as much as I expected. The brighter colors weren’t as opaque or as thick as I like with glazing. I needed to build them up more. But I did use glazing in the darker areas and over select areas of the brighter colors once they were dry.
It does seem to have some of the glow you get from glazing - beautiful!
Thanks so much!
I do both direct painting and underpainting, but my process seems easier and I enjoy it more when I do an underpainting and my conjecture is that it’s easier on my brain. When I do it underPainting all I have to do is be concerned with the tonal values and it seems easier to work on my drawing when it’s in a monochromatic setting. There seems to be a little less anxiety about the process when I do an underPainting, I feel more steadfast and sure of myself and when I get to the final painting and the use of glazing also seems to help me step along the process. I tend to be a slower painter than others and I have a lot Of patience so I’m not always biting at the bit to finish it. I enjoy the level of confidence it gives me in my perception and evolution of what I am doing and therefore I enjoy the process much more. I am very interested in the various types of underpainting that have been done historically and would like to hear from somebody about the various colors that were used such as verdaccio versus raw umber or terra rosa. I would also be interested in the difference between those color methods versus doing a black-and-white or black/white/burnt umber grisaille. Of all the colored methods of used so far I enjoyed raw umber the most. I believe that the reason I like it it’s because of the effect it has on subsequent layers in the painting. Raw umber seems to work really well in the shadows of subsequent layers. I would love to hear from someone about their particular for verdaccio process, as I would like to try that someday soon .