Understanding Underpainting – How important is it?

There are different styles of painting and not all of them need underpainting. However the style of work that I do requires it, and the final results cannot be achieved without it.

This is a continuing conversation.  I am revisiting this topic, because I consider that understanding  underpainting provides you with a wonderful tool. Underpainting can be found from the works of the classical masters to the modern ones. Even many contemporary abstract artists make use of underpainting. Often several layers of paint will contribute to the look of the finished painting. If you are just learning to paint and trying to copy someone elses work, understanding underpainting , may help you to figure out what they have done.  Look for subtle colour changes beneath the top layer of paint, and try to determine what colour they might have used.

The painting below by J.W. Waterhouse, well known Pre-Raphaelite painter,  is in two contrasting colors which separates the figure from the background but underpinned with a base of Raw Umber.

understanding underpainting in 2 colours, Waterhouse

Tonal underpainting in 3 colours

We see here that the background is underpainted with Raw Umber  and then Waterhouse has overpainted and further developed the image with Sap Green on top. He has painted the dress with a very thinned down Cadmium Red. This work is done in oils and the paint thinned considerably with a medium.

Look For Thursday’s Post: My latest artwork finished 

Next Monday’s Post: Adobe and Moleskin Team Up

Posted By: Kadira Jennings


Tagged with: