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Sunday, November 22, 2015

Using a Notan as an Underpainting...Another Technique to Try

'Twilight's Last'              8x10           pastel          ©Karen Margulis
If I can make it simple I am happy. This week I seem drawn to moody landscapes so my simple underpainitng discovery is coming in handy. I am drawn to the contrast between the light of the sky at dusk and the darkness of the landforms. I need to be sure that I capture this contrast in my painting. 

A Notan is a simplified design using just black and white....dark and light. Using a notan is the perfect way to start a painting that needs to have a strong contrast of dark and light.

Earlier this week I posted a painting done with a notan underpainting. (see it here) I used large sharpie black marker to make the notan right on my pastel paper. It worked well and I was excited. 

But then someone asked me if the sharpie was acid free and archival. I had not considered that actually so I did a little research on the Sharpie website and while some of the pens are listed as acid free......the magnum sharpie was not. So if this is a concern for you please be aware. I decided to try another similar but archival technique.

A simple underpainitng of dark and light

I took out a black pastel! I rarely use black pastel but I do have them laying around. Black can look lifeless in a painting especially if used in large amounts though I do think it can be exciting if used well. I decided that I would use the black pastel to block in the dark shapes in my painting. I used a piece of gray canson mi-teintes paper. I left the paper untouched in the light areas.

The beauty of the sharpie marker was that it didn't mix and contaminate the additional pastel layers. I needed to make sure my black pastel wouldn't mix and make the other colors dirty. So I rubbed the black pastel into the paper with a piece of pipe insulation foam and them I sprayed it with workable fixative. I used Blair low odor spray.

Now my black underpainting was fixed and I was ready to develop the painting.

I began by reinforcing the dark areas. Again, the light and dark notan allowed me to keep my darks dark enough and my lights light enough.  I used several colors in the dark areas keeping the values close together. I then moved onto the lightest area of the painting, the sky.  From there it was just a matter of subtle shifts of color and playing with marks until I was satisfied.

This technique worked great so now I am happy to have an archival way to create a simple notan underpainting!

close up detail
Keep your underpainting questions coming! I am working on something fun and I need your help....I welcome any and all questions having to do with underpaintings. Karenmargulis@gmail.com


Wendy said...

Thanks for your wonderful blog. When I first started following it I wondered how you could have new ideas to share every day...but it has been a revelation to receive your daily thoughts...please keep them coming!

robertsloan2art said...

Oh this is lovely! Actually considering that many dark pastels are shades created by mixing black with the pigment, it wouldn't matter that much to have some of the color picked up by the overlying dark colors. Though wanting broken color over black is so gorgeous with that.

The barrier spray probably helped lots with getting those sky holes in at the finish.

Interesting choice. I like to use a deep dark violet for my value underpainting if I do that, it works beautifully with the greens. Have you tried Terry Ludwig's V100 near-black violet for this kind of thing? It looks darker than the black sticks I have, that's something spooky and lovely about it.

Sandi G said...

HI Karen,
To Robert, I use the TL dark purple v110...is that the one they call eggplant. All of the purples are great under greens. I so enjoy any look forward to your posts each day and know I'm going to learn a new idea or a new challenge that will keep my paintings fresh.
I can save these to a PDF on my iPad for future reference without having to scroll through your blog.
Thanks for each day of encouragement and inspiration.