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Underpainting

I said once I'd finished my three paintings (from the last blog) I would compare the underpainting techniques.


The underpainting in grey (grisaille) didn't turn out as vibrant as the verdaccio (green) underpainting, and in fact having no underpainting at all was better than the grey, however, the non-underpainted one was on a linen background so some colour was there to start with. I think the issue was having white underneath. I was constantly trying to bring up the colour to cover the white which added a ghostly tone. The green however seemed to turn out the best, although I have to consider that it was a better photo that I was working from:


The picture of Katie has the grey/white underpainting, which gave the skin a very ghostly pallour which took some covering. The photo I was working from was pale too, but even so, I found it a difficult underpainting to work with.



This painting had no underpainting and the face/hair was just sketched with raw umber paint (the coat in ultramarine) I think the colour of the linen canvas helped and if it had been a white canvas I might have had the same issue as with the grey underpainting. The linen gave it a warmer ground, so was easier to get the flesh tone, but still not as easy as using the green.



The canvas had already been prepared before I added the green underpainting. I watched an insta video from Jonathan Yeo on how he grounds his canvas.

The canvas was initially black. I then added a white kind of patchy coat to it, with some black showing through, as if I'd covered an existing painting.

Once dry, I added a brown/red mix of thinned oil, left it for a while and then wiped off excess, which I repeated.


I then applied the sketch in charcoal, and underpainted in green oil (I couldn't use acrylic on the oil base)



Here are a couple of work in progress images from the grey underpainting and the non-underpainting. As you can see, they start off fairly light in tone.




An here is the verdaccio underpainting, with quite strong contrasting tones to start with. (you can also see the treatment of the background better)



Starting to add the flesh tones. The green painting adds vibrancy to the flesh tones as they are complimentary colours. It was already easier to get to the tones from this base as opposed to having to try to lighten and darken, as with the pale grey/linen.


I've since used green again for other paintings, and this time, I've used acrylic as it dries a lot more quickly, and i'll check the final painting, and compare, to see if using acrylic makes any difference to the final effect. I can't use acrylic on top of oils though, so have to remember what I've used on the background!

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