|'Another Peaceful Day' 9x12 pastel ©Karen Margulis|
I can make a landscape look bright and sunny. I can make it gray and moody. I can change the season or time of day. It's such a wonderful thing to be an artist!
There are many ways to create a mood in a painting but one of my favorite techniques is a simple four value underpainting. The mood is created by the colors that are selected for the underpainting.
|color blocks to help evaluate underpainting colors|
- Practice. The more we experiment and try different underpainting colors, the more intuitive our choices will become. Practice!!
- Color Studies and Color Blocks are a quick way to judge how an underpainting color will appear. Choose a color and pick 4 values of the color. Make little blocks of color on a scrap piece of paper the same color as the paper you will paint on. Now choose the colors you might use for your top layers. Lightly layer the top colors over the underpainting blocks. Think of theses as quick test strips. It is better to try out colors in small blocks than experiment on your painting! ( I learned this great tip from Doug Dawson)
For the marsh painting in this post I wanted a moody, gray day feeling. When evaluating possible underpainting colors I decided the Red Violets gave me the mood I was after. I blocked in the painting with four values of Red Violet. You can see it peek through and unify the whole painting.
TRY THIS: Cut 4-8 small pieces of paper. 4x6 or 5x7. Find a simple subject. Do at least 4 paintings using a different color for the underpainting in each study. Allow 15 minutes for each study. Compare your studies....what mood or feeling did each color create?