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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Have You Tried a Black and White Underpainting?

                       'Forest Magic'          10x8            pastel           ©Karen Margulis     available $275

A black and white underpainting was an unexpected delight. I have been working with 3 and 4 value thumbnails and underpaintings but I decided to limit them to just two values. It suited my dramatic subject. 

You may have heard the quotes about two favorites are:

"Value does the work but Color gets the Glory"
"Value gives the form and Color provides the emotion"

If we can just get the values right then we can use any color and the picture will look correct. Easy enough?  Not always. Just what does it mean to "get the right value" ?  First we need to be able to see the values in our subject. Next we need to block in our paintings with a strong value map. We need to see the correct value and put them in the right place taking care not to be too spotty.

For today's painting I decided to make a strong value underpainting using a two value thumbnail using just black and white (notan) It was the perfect choice to allow me to capture the drama of the light and shadows in my forest scene.  Here is my notan:

I used Art Graf pigment squares on white LuxArchival sanded paper to create a wet black and white underpainting. You can see on the photo below the strong darks. In this photo I have started adding pastel layers. The black and white roadmap was helpful. It reminded me to keep the shadowed areas dark enough to allow the sunlit tree to glow. 


I used the Notanizer app on my iPhone to create the black and white thumbnail. I was able to adjust my reference photo to show black and white, notan as well as 3 and 4 values. It was fun to use! I review the app today on my Patreon Page.

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