Thursday, January 15, 2009

Working with an underpainting

A Work in Progress

Back to my coloured pencils, and this time I decided to approach my drawing slightly differently by starting with a grisaille type underpainting before adding colour. This has been something I’ve been wanting to try for some time mainly to see what can be achieved using this technique.

As you will know, grisaille is the term used for a painting or drawing completed entirely in monochrome – usually shades of grays or browns. A benefit of working in this way is that you can establish your values before any colour is added, effectively making the colour stage a lot easier.

I’d thought of using various shades of greys for my underpainting but decided to opt for complimentary colours instead. I couldn’t help thinking the greys might dull my colours in some way although I will be experimenting with them if I’m happy with the outcome of this drawing. As the horse is a chestnut brown colour with a lot of orange tones, I went for the blues.

I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed working with just a few shades of blue as opposed to around 20 to 30 different colours. At this stage I’m not entirely happy with my values and need to darken some areas quite a bit for more of a contrast. The fear I have is that I’ll make it too dark for colour to be seen when added on top and can’t help thinking I might already have too much blue there as it is without adding more. But I do need to push those darks somehow.

Apart from working more on my values there is not much left to do at this stage and I can start to think about adding colour.


Heather Page said...

This looks really neat, as is. You could almost leave it as a blue drawing! I'll be watching to see how it turns out.

Teresa Mallen said...

Beautiful underpainting Laura! I think you have made a perfect choice in colour, given the final colours you will use.

I have experimented with grey underpaintings and I thought that my later layers of pigment did appear dull, but then again other artists like using greys so I guess it is something one has should try for themselves.

Anyway, I look forward to reading how you like this process once you start adding the other colours. Looks wonderful so far!

Jennifer Rose said...

You could really leave it as blue, looks wonderful just being blue :) I've never done an underpainting before because I have the same fear. Make it too dark and none of the colours will show up, or pick the wrong colour to use as an underpainting and end up with a techno-coloured animal by accident lol

Rhonda Bartoe Tucker said...

Laura, I can't wait to see how this one progresses. Very interesting and already a wonderful piece.

Laura said...

Thank you:)

Heather, I did consider leaving it with just the underpainting but thought better of it:)

Teresa, that's interesting to hear your experience in using greys as an underpainting - I did wonder about them dulling the colours but will no doubt have a go at some point.

Jennifer, I think I've gone too dark with my blues in places but so far I haven't ended up with a techno coloured animal which is good:)

Thank you Rhonda:)