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Thursday, August 18, 2016

What Happens When You Change Underpainting Colors?

'Passing Storm'         18x24       pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $350
 I love the reference photos. It was one of those 'drive-by' shots taken from the car as the landscaped zipped by. The sky was our entertainment on the last few hours of a long drive across Texas and New Mexico. Storms on the horizon provided a changing spectacle of drama in the sky.  I took many photos of the same distant storm and they continue to provide inspiration.

The first painting I did was for my Sky workshop in Florida. For this demo I painted large and used four values of violet for a dry wash underpainting. I wanted to create interesting grays in the storm clouds and felt that violet would lend a dramatic and moody touch. This was the resulting painting.

The original painting used a violet underpainting

What would happen if I changed underpainting colors?  Could I get a stormy mood with another color palette? It is a question I ask myself whenever choosing underpainting colors? How would the color choice impact the mood and feel of the painting? There is no right or wrong answer. It really is a matter of trial and error. The more options you try the more intuitive future underpainting color choices will be.

Creating a series from a favorite reference is the perfect way to discover interesting new color palettes.


The colors I selected for the underpainting...Nupastels and Rembrandt

I decided to use the same photo for yesterday's sky workshop. But this time I would choose different underpainting colors. The first painting had a violet underpainting with golds, ochres and yellows in the final painting.  I decided to try to use blues and oranges for this version.  I tested potential colors on a paper scrap.

Since it was a quick demo I needed to do another dry underpainting. I selected a few Nupastels and a Rembrandt. I wanted a dark, a light and some middle values that would give me a head start on my blue and orange color scheme. In this version the underpainting colors were the actual local colors that I planned to use. I rubbed this layer of hard pastel into the paper with a piece of pipe foam.
(I didn't get a photo since it was a class demo)

My color sampler....trying out possible colors

What did I discover?  The underpainting colors guided me and set the tone of the painting. The resulting painting still expressed the distant dark and stormy feeling and yet I used a different set of colors.


Now I wonder what would happen if I tried turquoise for an underpainting!?! Back to the easel to find out!


'Storms on the Horizon'        18x24       pastel       $350

1 comment:

Ruth Palombo Weiss said...

Love this demo. It says so much about working in a series and how to do it. Thanks.