Unexpected outcomes, part three

The colour of snow – underpainting and final.
The colour of snow – underpainting and final painting.

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.

Between the lines – underpainting and final
Between the lines – underpainting and final painting.

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

  1. 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

    1. 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 : )

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.