112 Full value, full color underpainting

I have talked about doing an underpainting in other posts. Some have written and asked why do a full value, full color underpainting when so many painters recommend doing only a monochromatic underpainting? My answer is if a monochromatic underpainting works for you go for it. It simply doesn’t work for me. I find it difficult and uninspiring to match values to a warm monochromatic layer of paint (using a gray underpainting doesn’t seem to help either).

Full value, full color underpainting from Brad Teare on Vimeo.

In the video my underpainting looks more finished than it actually is. The color is actually very thin and blotchy. I try not to impart any virtuosity to the surface of my underpaintings  It is simply a record of color and value. In fact it is best if the surface is imperfect because it gives me an incentive to cover it up. I do try to keep the underpainting thin so the ensuing layers of paint do not show the texture of the dried pigment beneath. If I do have any visible texture I scrape it off with my sharpened ceramics tool before I paint over the top.

I keep my oiling up medium quite thick. I add burnt plate oil #8, and Gamblin G-gel. Lately I’ve been adding a reddish purple pigment which increases the viscosity and imparts a subtle and harmonizing hue to the ensuing layers of paint.

Let me know if it works for you.

Brad Teare- March 2013

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Updated: 20th June 2024
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