View Full Version : What to do with a painting that has gone awry?

04-03-2002, 05:38 PM
Help me out here. I have been working diligently on a portrait (for one of the art projects here at WC), and it started out fine, but has since started to look like crap. (If nothing else I am honest)

I started with a really good same size prelim drawing, and it transfered like a dream to the canvas. I started to lay in my grey underpainting and something went vastly wrong. I don't know what it is, but it no longer looks right.

What would be the best bet to correct this or should I gesso over and start over?

I wish the film was developed so I good scan in the process pics to date. But there are still several frames left on the roll.


04-07-2002, 04:03 PM
Wish I could see the pictures Andrew...One of the blessings of acrylics is that when things go awry...we can always change our mind and go a different route.

Is it the grey underpainting causing the difficulty? Did it change the tone of the picture? Maybe a different tone of grey then you had planned on? Does it pull brown tones or blue?

If that is the case, you can change your underpainting...(I have even gently sanded off a thick layer of paint before and no one was the wiser and I just proceeded on...)Canvas is expensive so I do whatever I can to resurrect my materials. Lightly sanding any thicker areas will work well too if you would like to gesso and start over. Done carefully, it wont harm the "tooth" of the canvas either. I dont know how thick you like to apply your paint, I tend to work in many thin layers myself.

If it is the way the grey underpainting is coming through, maybe you just need to adjust your palette colors? I wouldnt give up though...if things have differed too much from your original vision, just take that painting in a different direction and then have another go on a fresh canvas at your original idea.

I dont underpaint myself, though I do block in color with a wash of sorts. Would like to see it when you have a chance to post it...I have a vexing picture of my own on the go and will probably post it shortly too...


Ron van den Boogaard
04-08-2002, 07:07 AM
Sorry, previous posted message belonged in another thread.


04-08-2002, 12:44 PM
I think it is a combination of two things. First I am inclined to believe that it has something to do with my greyscale values. The source image is well lit and lacks strong shadows (but great highlights - go figure). Secondly, I lost a fair bit of the resemblence after starting the underpainting. I am not sure how I managed that, but it is the truth.

I have had real good luck with a greyscale underpainting, however this is my first figure/portrait using this technique. Possibly given the warm tones of the source picture, I should have gone with a warmer underpainting. I don't know. I have no experence to fall back on for this.


04-12-2002, 03:36 PM
I dont as a rule do underpaintings though I do block in color...If you prefer a grey scale underpainting and needed warm tones, did you perhaps go with a grey, burnt sienna type blend or? Then again...I would think cool tone greys might add a nice contrast to the over all effect...especially if the main image is strongly lit and in warm tones.I often use contrasting colors to sharpen shadows etc, add depth, I tend to create some very graphic work however,I dont know what effect you are seeking...

As for losing the resemblance...acrylics are a blessing here as you can sharpen the image as you progress. I tend to block in my colors very loose and have also lost some of the resemblance but as the painting progresses you can usually manage to bring it back in focus again.

Im no help at all, Im sorry but dont give up...it really sounds like it can be worked with, maybe just in a different approach then you are used to.