View Full Version : Choosing the Color of the Underpainting

Donna T
03-19-2017, 01:21 PM
Lana Ballot, a member of our Pastel forum, has graciously allowed me to share the link to her recent blog post concerning underpainting colors (http://www.lanaballot.com/choosing-the-color-of-the-underpainting/#comment-2671). Her painting is a winter-themed beauty and we can follow along with the steps she used to create it. Thank you Lana!

03-19-2017, 01:56 PM
Thank you, Donna! I know I always love seeing the "step-by-step" from other artists, so I'm happy to share mine :)

03-20-2017, 08:48 PM
Thanks, Donna for putting this link out here for us!

I usually just go with my gut feeling for underpainting colors. It was great to hear from Lana as to why she picked the colors she did.

Thanks to Lana as well. Great pastel work and blog!

03-22-2017, 10:28 PM
In the underpainting, I like to use warm colors in light areas and lit areas, cool colors in shadow areas, try to match value as close as possible for the mass. Thus a light value shadow area I'd use a blue or lavender or green tint. Pink and peach do really well for skies though.

Other than that, I sometimes deliberately use complements as underpainting. Earth reds under grass and foliage works really well.

If I have to choose a colored paper, that's more intuitive. I'll pick the paper sometimes reddish for landscapes, green or cool or neutral for portraits. Then play with that color and underpaint over it where I really want it to shift one way or the other.

I learned the "warm highlights cool shadows" flat underpainting in "Still Life The Colourful Way" by Colorix, here on WetCanvas, it's still in the Pastel Library. Wonderful course. It taught me everything about color.

Loved that article, it was great! The final painting is gorgeous!

03-23-2017, 01:09 PM
Thanks for this!

You know, when you have a pack of different colored papers, it is hard to choose!! And it really is the first choice in starting a painting.

Lana--this is seriously amazing work!!

03-25-2017, 09:00 PM
As I'm still new to 2D art and pastels, and since I am self taught, I sometimes get into an absolute swivet about paper color and underpainting color.

It's very helpful to see how somewhat detailed Lana's underpainting is. I'm never sure whether I'm "doing it right" if I think my underpainting is too detailed.

On the other hand, if I can't figure out the shapes, sometimes I just give up and don't do an underpainting at all because I can't "see" what it should be.

It's very helpful to see such a professional work of art with the steps used to complete it. I learn so much!

Thank you for sharing, Donna, and thank you for your generosity, Lana.


03-26-2017, 12:15 AM
Ron, Robert, stapeliad, and Shallbe, thank you for your comments and your kind words!
Ron, Iím glad you liked the post and the blog!
Robert, yes, thatís what guides me too - warmer colors for the light areas and cooler for shadows, thatís the general idea, but I also use some warmer colors in the shadows where Iím planning for the reflected light.
Stapeliad, I feel like I have more freedom if I start with neutral paper, like UArt, so I can build the areas of color I want, but I do like the toned papers too and go back to that every now and then.
Shallbe, the great thing about underpainting is that if we did not get it quite right we can still go ahead and end up with a nice painting, just need to cover the mistakes. I usually donít worry about the details at first, just get the general shapes, the movement in the composition, I know itís not going to stay once I apply water or alcohol. So getting the shapes right is really my next step, for me, itís like sculpting it, rather than getting it all perfect right away, or ever :)