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Sunday, May 27, 2012

An Underpainting Approach for an Oil Painting

'Nothing But Blue Skies'            16x20         oil         purchase here $320
How do you start a painting?  Standing in front of the white canvas or paper can be scary. How do you begin? Where does the first mark go?  Do you do a detailed drawing first or just fling some paint on the canvas like Ken Auster did at his demo at the Plein Air Convention? (I loved that approach!)

With pastel I have many approaches to starting a painting depending on the subject. I may choose to tone my paper or do a wet or dry underpainting. I might do a tonal underpainting. I never do a detailed involved drawing preferring to loosely block in the big shapes. I am sure there must be many approaches to starting an oil as well. Since I am new to the medium I figure I will stick to what I am familiar with.

Underpainting with thinned oil paint
Building up the darks with slightly thicker paint
 I started the painting without a drawing. I put down some very thin and soupy oils. I used alizarin and cad yellow med and thinned it with Gamsol.. I used a paper towel to remove paint where the bigger flowers will be. The nice thing about this is that if you don't like the arrangement of the flowers...cover them up and start again. I let the paint drip and let it dry which took about an hour.

Next I used slightly thicker paint to build upon the underpainting. At this stage I put in the darkest areas...some darks in the grasses and dark greens in the flowers.  I decided to let this dry a bit so I left it until the next day.

I didn't get any photos of the rest of the painting process but I put in the sky and clouds next and then just gradually built up the painting using thicker and thicker paint. I used a palette knife at the end to get the impasto look to the flower heads. I am enjoying this approach in oils because it is so similar to the way I most often do a pastel. It feels comfortable and familiar.  I am planning on doing a more detailed step by step demo soon so stay tuned!


Marian Fortunati said...

Great demo and you know I always love the way your flowers seem to sway in the breezes!

robertsloan2art said...

That is lovely! Thanks for showing the underpainting. I had never thought of using red for the underpainting. The results are gorgeous! I'll have to try that sometime.

I used to do oils like that with a sepia or burnt sienna underpainting. Makes sense that a bright red would work great under vegetation!