Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Paint with Me in Chicago...and Learn about Underpaintings


'Silent Journey'           10 x 10       pastel       ©Karen Margulis
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I have been collecting your underpainting questions. They have really helped me clarify the mystery that surrounds a successful underpainting for pastels. I have put together a brand new 3 day workshop plan that focuses on creating an underpainting that leads to a more successful painting. It really is quite simple and I am excited to share what I have learned.

I am working on a trade book and video which will be coming soon. But if you are in the Chicago area you can join me in person at a workshop that was just scheduled for March 18 - 20.  I am honored and excited to be sponsored by Uart paper for this 3 day workshop. Uart will supply paper and we will explore the mystery and magic of underpaintings.


 I put my ideas into practice with today's painting. What kind of underpainting technique and what colors to use? The questions that we all have when starting a new painting!
I decided to use an oil stain underpainting with water soluble oils.

oil stain underpainting

What is an oil stain underpainting and why choose it? It is simply a wet underpainting using very thin oil paint. I used water soluble oils so I didn't have to use OMS (odorless mineral spirits) I used water to thin the paint to a consistency of tea. It needs to be thin so that it doesn't fill the tooth of the paper. I wanted a wet and drippy underpainting to help me suggest the mystery of the swamp.Uart paper works so well with this technique..no buckling even when not mounted!


another oil stain underpainting using up the rest of my paint
 Next I had to choose the colors to use. I wanted to keep it very simple. Red, yellow and blue. That's all. I mixed my colors from these three tubes which created a nice limited and harmonious palette. I kept my shapes simple and embraced the interesting drips. The mysterious out of focus underpainting was perfect for the mood I wanted to create.

I used only Terry Ludwig pastels most of them from the Richard McKinley set which I keep separate from my big box of pastels.

Terry Ludwig pastels.....this is the Richard McKinley set
If you haven't asked your underpainting questions I want to hear from you!! email me at karenmargulis@gmail.com

1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Beautiful! You got the perfect sponsor too. Uart is one of the top papers for accepting any kind of underpainting that I know. It's wonderful stuff.

There is one underpainting idea I had years ago that I will have to wait till I get my new house before I do it. I bought all 20 colors of Art Spectrum Multimedia (Colourfix) Primer, with the idea of combining Priming and Underpainting by choosing Colourfix colors for value-color masses. This could be done as a grisaille with just a pot of Black and a pot of White because you could use a palette and mix gray values for mid values to create a gray scale underpainting. Or just do black and white areas like a notan you can paint on. I still mean to do this sometime.

In the mean time, one of my underpainting methods is to use watercolor or whatever on plain paper and then prime right over it, sealing in the underpainting. This works well with one exception - metallic colors. I tried doing a background in metallic gold and the clear Colourfix primer flattened the metallic effect till it looked like yellow ochre. This wouldn't happen if I used metallic colors over Uart, the shine comes up beautiful. I wound up doing a wash over the primer with the same metallic gold and that worked.

It can be gorgeous using the Daniel Smith Luminescent colors like the Duochrome or Interference colors especially. Interference colors tend to be very light but Duochrome ones are mid value, Oceanic is a green-blue that shifts back and forth gorgeous. That could be washed on Uart easily and give a brilliant effect in watercolor, oils or acrylics - DS makes those in all three. Iridescents go down to a mid value or even mid-dark sometimes so you can get good effects with those too. Iridescent Electric Blue is a great wash color.

Using them under pastels would give a bit of sparkle and of course you can also use iridescent or metallic pastels like the ones from Sennelier over that underpainting too. I've found the effect is not as gaudy as I thought, especially in colors or pale tones, it's more subtle shimmer and very effective in some subjects. Especially if I get the hue and value right so I'm using it as if it wasn't iridescent.