I started experimenting with underpainting a few weeks ago and I have to say I’m thrilled with the results. It’s given a beautiful depth and richness to my art. Colours seem to glow from within the picture making my acrylics look like oils. I wonder what oils would look like? I’ve been using the technique to establish my compositions (what goes where) and to work out the tonal values (light and dark) before building up the colour.
I read somewhere that underpainting can also make the final artwork more vibrant. The earthy orange I used gave a lovely warm glow to the trees in The colour of snow and helped to produce a wonderfully dramatic sky in Between the lines.
I haven’t put all of them to the test (yet) but these are the traditional underpainting colours:
- grey-green makes skin tones more vibrant
- blue-grey works well for landscapes
- a monochromatic underpainting, usually shades of grey, helps to achieve a more realistic painting
- warm browns such as burnt umber or raw umber are good for high contrast
Adding colour in transparent glazes allows the underpainting to influence the final colour while opaque colours can be used to obscure the underpainting. As far as I can see, there really is only one downside ― it takes a lot of time to build up the layers of colour. A LOT OF TIME. But I’m convinced it’s worth it.
10 thoughts on “Unexpected outcomes, part three”
Thanks, this is very interesting and the amazing results you get… i need to learn more
I really like the stark area and leading lines in your first bench painting!
It really does show in your latest paintings here Anna … you’re so right .
Mind you … grey/green to make skin tones more vibrant has got me thinking … howz that work Lol
I think it has to do with complementary colours — but I’m not sure if it’s the same underpainting colour for ALL skin tones (that does seem unlikely). And because I don’t tend to paint portraits, I may never find out if it works or not : )
🙂 sounds a bit risky Lol
I’ve never got a good result with just one layer of paint so one may as well make them add pizazz! 🙂
This is really helpful. I use acrylic painting for my sculptures , but I never under paint anything.. I never knew this can have so much effect on a painting! I guess I learned something new. 🙂 Thank you!
I always enjoy seeing your two images back to back. Do you ever use watercolor?
Thanks, Carol. Yes, I love watercolour too. If you go to my home page and scroll down, you’ll find ‘watercolour’ in my tag cloud… it’s the easiest way to find them all.
Your work is beautiful. I love the underpaintings as much as the finished results especially in the Colour of Snow.