Monday, July 31, 2017

Underpainting Techniques – Demonstration Six - Part I – WIP




In this demonstration, I will attempt to compare the different methods of underpainting technique used and developed by artist prior to the 20th century. Just walk through any museum and compare the 20th century wing to the 19th and on to 15th century. It becomes obvious that those artists where doing something different, they were using paint differently. They had a vast vocabulary when it came to making marks with paint and with it they could create great illusion of space and form.

Painting in an indirect method, building layers up of transparent, semitransparent, semi-opaque, opaque and impasto layers of paint create different optical effects. The purpose of this is to achieve three-dimensional space, through the refraction of light, what is called “Turning the Form.”

The most important illusions of realism in a painting are Form and Value. And by using the underpainting to divide the image into manageable parts, the drawing, the values and lastly color, they could focus on the actual mechanics of applying paint. They created this amazing tool box of techniques, which liberated them, where they could slowly tune in on the level of realism wanted. Thus allowing these artists to create at a higher level of expression and produce some of the greatest masterpieces in history.








Starting top left moving clock wise- 

Grisaille – (griz-eye’) fr.-  A grey underpainting done entirely in monochrome shades of gray or another neutral color, to produce the illusion of relief sculpture.


Bistre - (the wipe-out method) – An underpainting using warm browns (usually raw umber or burnt umber). A thin coat of umber is painted or rubbed over the canvas and then ‘wiped out’ or lifted using a rag or a bristle brush and a small amount of solvent. Darks are built-up with thicker and leaner layers of umber in a near dry brush approach.


Ébauche – (ay•boash ) fr.  - or first block-in with color or color sketch. This creates the overall general feel and effect of the painting with colors and values.  Leaving a sympathetic underpainting or foundation similar to a watercolor.


Imprimatura is an initial stain of color painted on a ground. It provides a painter with a transparent, toned ground, which will allow light falling onto the painting to reflect through the paint layers. The term itself stems from the Italian and literally means "first paint layer". It's use as an underpainting layer can be dated back to the guilds and workshops during the Middle Ages; however, it came into standard use by painters during the Renaissance, particularly in Italy.


Alla-prima – Italian expression loosely translated “at first try”. Direct painting (wet into wet), a method which is completed in a single session without previous preparation or later layers of paint.


I will be continuing along with the indirect painting technique over these underpaintings, using layering, glazes, scumbles, and velauturas to create a illusion of three dimensional form.

So, I invite you to visit again as the paintings evolve.


You can access more Underpainting Demos through the labels in the side bar or use the search box at the top left of the blog.

A couple of quick Links:
Bistre Method – “wipe out”     
Grisaille Underpainting  




Explore - Question - Learn - Enjoy, Jim 





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