Author: William_F._Martin, Contributing Editor
My underpainting is made by mixing Raw Umber with Ivory Black, 1 to 1. Enough white is added to create the various tones required.
With a palette knife, I mix my paint for the grisaille with Raw Umber and Ivory Black, using equal parts of each. I use the LEAN medium mixture in my palette cup, and dip my brush into it each time before picking up a bit on paint on the tip of my brush. I add enough white to create the tone values needed as I go, and I do this mixing by using my brush and picking up various quantities of the "dark" mix with the white, and mixing with the brush on the palette.
Except for the initial premixing of the Raw Umber and the Ivory Black, which I do with a palette knife, I don't premix any lighter tones; I simply mix white with the brush on the palette in the course of doing the grisaille underpainting.
This underpainting should be quite accurate in form, shape, and tone, as it becomes the true base structure upon which you will be adding your successive glazes. If it takes more than one sitting to achieve an accurate, smooth, detailed, grisaille underpainting, feel free to do that. There is absolutely no reason this underpainting has to be completed in one, or even two sessions.
|GLAZING FIRST COLOR LAYER
In glazing my color layer, I first cover the surface of the underpainting with my painting medium--in this case, the MEDIUM mixture. I apply a thin coat of the medium, and then begin painting my colors into this coating of medium. I select my colors by the hues that I want , without considering the transparency or opacity of the paints, themselves. I apply the glaze layer of color so thin that the colors are virtually transparent (or at least, translucent) by virtue of being applied in such a thin coat.
Some artists seem to be concerned about this glazing tending to appear as a "hand tinted photograph". Well, I may be in the minority, but that's precisely the "look" I'm after when I do my beginning glazes.
Here is the result of the grisaille underpainting with a thin glaze of color painted over it:
GLAZING SECOND COLOR LAYER
The second layer of glaze is applied, just as the first, simply adding more color at each step.
My palette here consists of French Ultramarine Blue, Prussian Blue, Pthalo Blue, Burnt Umber, Cadmium Red Deep, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Light, and Flake White.
Once more, I apply the painting medium directly to the dried previous layer, and again paint into the medium with the fresh paint, applying it thinly. Keep brush strokes minimal. Smooth as you go.....blend. Plenty of time for impasto strokes in the upper layers, but not at this stage.
Here is the result of the second glaze layer:
GLAZING THIRD COLOR LAYER
For my third glaze layer, I add Winsor & Newton Permanent Rose 503 (a transparent magenta), to mix with my Pthalo Blue or my Prussian Blue for the plum color. This gives a clean purple. For the more shadowy parts of the plum, I mix Cadmium Red Deep with my Prussian Blue, as it is loaded with yellow, and the addition of yellow to purple creates neutral... (black).
The fabric background "green" is being created on each layer by mixing Prussian Blue with Cadmium Yellow Light. The dark shadows of the folds have Fr. Ultramarine Blue and Burnt Umber added to them.
Winsor & Newton Transparent Yellow 653 is being used for the light, yellow embellishments on the apples. This transparent yellow creates a bright yellow when mixed with white (in fact it HAS to be mixed with white for lighter colors, or it wouldn't look like much of anything.) The reds of the apples have so far been composed of various mixes of Cadmium Red Deep and Cad Red Light, with perhaps a bit of Cadmium Yellow Light here and there.
Old Holland Flake white is the white of choice in tinting many of these colors.
The process of glazing is always quite gratifying for me because each and every layer adds so much color, depth, and detail, while small corrections are capable of being made on each layer, quite easily. For example, on nearly every layer I'm modifying the outer shapes of the apples, somewhat.
Here is the result of my third glaze layer:
GLAZING FOURTH COLOR LAYER
Now, here is where I add a new color on my palette. I have realized while working up the first layers of glaze, that the "reds" of the apples are inevitably going to require that "ruby" appearance, at least in certain key areas. The Cad. Reds just didn't seem to be giving that to me--too "orangey" when done with the Cad Red Light, and too "dark and dirty" when done with the Cad Red Deep.
The color I added to my palette for the reds of the apples is Rose Madder. I haven't used it in a long time, but it seems to do the trick on this painting. This Rose Madder, by itself, or when mixed on the canvas into the other reds/yellows of the apples when painting into the medium worked very well in giving me the "apple red" for which I was striving.
I'm simply glazing colors over colors, very thinly, without giving any consideration to the opacity/transparency of the paints. It's the thin application that makes them transparent. Each layer seems to optically blend and meld with the layers beneath it, imparting a depth and detail that are quite fun to do. I am using a tiny brush for the detail in the apples. I think it's a "0" liner by Loew/Cornell.
As layers are added, certain areas become more opaque, such as highlights and lighter colors. This is fine; there are no rules stating that each layer must be totally transparent. The paint "builds" in its application and its opacity, as the more final layers are applied.
Here's the fourth layer of glazing that I've done on this painting: