This will be my final example for now of how useful a more detailed Underpainting can be. This is another wooded scene where my trees could easily have all gotten lost or run together as I went along. By having my Underpainting sort of map out my values, it was much easier to keep track of where my trees were separated. This also was helpful for me to see whrere it was important to perhaps place a darker tree next to a lighter one in order to distinguish it or make it more focal. It really is nice to be able to play around with your composition and value at this point before you have invested too much time. For me, it is invaluable when the painting has much detail.
I thought I would show another example of an Underpainting, because when I first started painting I couldn’t get enough information about the different ways that people choose to paint. I enjoy seeing how other people paint…it gives me ideas and may lead to better things. It’s good for us to know that there is not just one way to do things. Rather there are a vast number of ways to do the same thing! I think this is very helpful to know. Actually, I think this little painting is the very first time that I tried doing an Underpainting. You can see just how much detail I included in the early stages.
I’m sure this may be old news to many people, but I can remember how fascinated that I was with it early on. So I wanted to do a few posts to show any beginners how they might try it.
This is an example of a two tone Underpainting where it was extremely necessary. I felt like there would be no way for me to keep track of my distant trees without a basic guide layer down first. This gave me a clear idea of my values before I started and also acted like a map for me to keep from having my trees get lost in the forest (so to speak). You can see that an Underpainting can be quite vague or extremely detailed. It is very interesting to play around with.
I am actually quite taken with this little painting. There is something very pleasing about its simplicity. To try a painting using just one color is a great process for beginners. I even think that this practice is helpful for more advanced painters. This is useful In many ways… like helping one to recognize the values in the painting. After doing this you could more easily adjust your values to emphasize different areas of interest or intensity. This can also help one to see the unnecessary details of their subject. This is also good practice for how one might do an underpainting of their subject. Many artists will do a complete, thinned down, two tone painting like this before they add their color. That way they can concentrate on adding color without thinking about the value as well. This is often helpful when the subject matter has a lot of detail. But this is not a necessity, just a matter of preference. I have done some of these underpaintings and found them very helpful. But there are many times that I just want to be more spontaneous.
(as a side note, this post should have come before the last one) I would be interested to hear about anyone else’s experience with this process as well.
I think that the first painting was too cool. I did add a bit of warmth to it but thought that I would try it again. You know that ‘repeat, repeat’ thing. ( = Well for this one I also used a canvas that was toned with burnt sienna. If you remember, the first one was toned with a pale blue hue. I do believe that this one came out much warmer simply because I started out with a warm undertone. The blue of the last one was strong enough to influence my whole painting so that it leaned toward very cool in the end.
Usually my preference is for a warm painting, but I do like the idea of trying different things to see where it leads. So I learned from this…I can either be very careful to warm all my colors if I use a cool toned canvas, or I can start with a warmer tone. I have seen paintings of fog or overcast days that have been done on a blue/ gray canvas that I really liked, but again, I will practice. In the end, I really prefer this warmer painting.
This little canvas was underpainted with a pale blue hue. I think this was the first time trying blue. I liked it a lot. The overall tone of the painting came out cool even though it was a very sunny scene. After taking this photo I did tone down the blueness of the rocks in the shade. It was a little too blue for me. But I really enjoy painting on a canvas that is underpainted because it gives you a mid tone color to start with which can help you read your colors better. It is also interesting to play around with little bits of color you leave showing. If I did this same painting with the pale orange underneath, it would have taken a totally different direction. I’m almost interested enough to try that in order to compare the two.
Many people know exactly how they intend their painting to turn out. At this point for me, I sort of let it tell me where it is going to go. I try to read it as it progresses and see how it feels. That part is still fun for me. If I have a direction in mind and it doesn’t go that way, well that will be frustrating. But for now I am learning what may cause certain outcomes. And I am enjoying the process!
This is a scene from Corinth, Maine. It is a very farmy town where my friend lives. I love to take photos out there of the farms and countryside. It is open and always has nice lighting effects. This one was interesting to me because of the big old Maple trees and because of the snow. I still need to add a few lines on the poles when it dries, but this was fun.
This one was also an example of that pale orange underpainting bleeding into the snow. I had to do a couple layers. But you can also see areas where it gives an interesting warm glow through the trees. Depending on the subject matter, you can leave more or less of it to show through.
I have been trying different underneath colors on my canvases lately. I am finding that I really like the effects of a pale warm orange (actually a combination of Cad Red Mid and Cad Yellow, and maybe a touch of White). I have been thinning this down quite a bit with mineral spirits so that it is a very transparent layer. I then have to let it dry for several days before using it. there are several reasons to do this kind of underpainting, for one, I really like the little areas where it peeks through and creates interest and a glow, as well as a warmth. It also tends to unify and harmonize the painting.
I am finding that this process is not always good for certain subjects. When painting a blue sky or white snow, for instance, it tends to bleed through after it dries, turning your colors toward pink or muddying them up. There are times that this can be an interesting brightness but many times it has to have a second coat to cover it. One thing I am going to try is an acrylic mix so that it will be thoroughly dry before painting with oils.
As a side note, these handy little stands were made by my handy husband and they work great!