View Full Version : Backgrounds & How the heck do ya get them?

04-16-2003, 09:06 PM
Okay --

Technical question guys. How the heck do you all get your beautiful color-wahsed (is that the term) backgrounds on your paintings? I have tried and tried to do it and all I end up with is muddy yuck.

I'm not doing it right. I'm just gobbing paint and and swirling it and there must be a trade secret I am unaware of.

I'm unaware of ALL trade secrets of course!



04-16-2003, 09:28 PM
Your talking about those "portrait" type backgrounds right?

I wish I knew :rolleyes: every time I tryed to do one with oils I ended up with a mess too. Haven't done it for a while though... I'd probably go at it different now. Maybe dabs of light on a darker background then blend it all together? That's one of the things I truely love about oils - you can blend for DAYS! :D

Hopefully someone will share the magic trick ;)

04-16-2003, 10:49 PM
If you're talking about those sort of vague, blotchy color, non-marble kind of backgrounds,
in watercolor and gouache I spot blotches of color in certain areas, then wash them together after a moment of drying, keeping the brushstrokes all going the same direction, parallel.
Did the same sort of thing with oils but used paint thinner instead of water, obviously.:D
I am unbelievably lazy, and ususally don't even bother putting any background at all, but cleverly use a patterned or colored acid-free paer. (Scrapbook paper is wonderful!)

04-17-2003, 02:16 AM
You didn't say what medium you are working in.

If it's acrylics....I start with the lightest color and wait til it dries, then with a mixture of glaze and a darker color go over it and then dab it off with tissue paper. I repeat the last part over and over until I get the desired darkness and depth I'm looking for.

With this I started with a white board, then used pure quinacridone gold mixed with glaze for the first coat. It came out a very light/pale yellow. Then I used purple and carmine thinned with glaze for the next several coats, dabbing off in between. You have to make sure to let it dry between coats.

If you are looking for a smoother blend of colors, try using the glaze with your color to slow the drying time a little.

Hope that helped a little.

Paul Hopkinson
04-17-2003, 03:41 AM
You know I must admit backgrounds arn't my strong point either. What I tend to do is create lots of blurry colours which compliment the picture and softy blend them Boss Ross style. I've a feeling that I'm not the only one who doe's this as a quick fix!


Wes Hyde
04-17-2003, 08:02 AM
For my abstract backgrounds I start out by brushing bolder colors on and then using a palette knife to apply a softer color. In Out of the Chute I brushed on windsor orange and several blues, then knifed over it in white, letting the under colors mix into the white paint. It was beautiful, but it was also too bold for the subject. So, after it dried, I went over the background with pale gray and pink, working the paint in in areas with a badger hair filbert. Mud is the result of colors that over mix. Sometimes mud is good, especially for a background... or a rainy day; you might consider saving your unwanted mud colors in an airtight container for a later painting where it suits your needs.