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View Full Version : Quick demo--underpainting on Wallis


Deborah Secor
01-20-2007, 11:51 PM
I did this series of shots for a class last week so I thought I'd show you here, too.

We're working on finding the underlying shapes, playing with the color, and using a spare style without a lot of detail.

First is the sketch I did. I try to sketch about the same size as the painting so that I'm solving real scale issues. It's done with a fat marker on plain old newsprint and it's about 9x12" in size, maybe a bit smaller. All I want is to find some interesting shapes...
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2007/23609-001-sketch_sm.jpg

I use the sketch to do a quick shape drawing in charcoal on my Wallis paper, which is white Pro grade. I've added a bit more shaping in the middle ground, but it's still simple lines--no values at all.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2007/23609-002-shape_drawing_on_Wallis_sm.jpg

Now I look at the photo and lay in some flat colors that are more or less complements to the 'real' colors. I don't want to overfill the grain of the paper so I use a fairly light application.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2007/23609-003-color_layer_sm.jpg

Then I lay the board flat and spray very lightly with some alcohol--regular rubbing alcohol in a cheap spray bottle. It darkens the pastel and fixes it in place. If the application of the pastel is too heavy it makes the paper seem too slick, with not enough tooth to hold a lot more layers. It also give it a slightly more gritty texture for some reason, but I really like that.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2007/23609-004-sprayed_sm.jpg

Here is my first layer of real colors, not really so very accurate, but more of a response to the photograph using heightened colors. My concern is not to over-detail anything but to let the color and massing of the shapes do the work. You can see the turquoise coming up under the magentas and lavenders on the mountain and the reds popping through the green and turquoise bushes.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2007/23609-006-_real_color_1_sm.jpg

And the final touches are here, mostly just a few calligraphic lines and a bit more resolution on the main bush in front, with a shadow added there. I wanted it to be loose in technique, and lush in color.
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/20-Jan-2007/23609-007-_final_color_touches_sm.jpg

I'm always open to your comments and any questions you have. This is a return to a style I love, maybe even pushing the envelope a little further. Fun!

Enjoy...
Deborah

David Patterson
01-21-2007, 12:10 AM
I love the direction you have been going Deborah. Love the bright colors, looseness, and this wonderful composition. Thanks for sharing your WIP - great tips for all of us.:)

David

Ruthmarie
01-21-2007, 03:18 AM
Thankyou for sharing this series of steps and the end result. I am still getting my head around pastels and their application. There are certainly some great tips. Thanks Ruth

Donna T
01-21-2007, 11:49 AM
Thank you so much, Deborah! I have been regretting ordering white Wallis instead of the grey because my attempts at underpainting have been so awful. Gouache and watercolor made the paper buckle and I can't afford to use the expensive museum grade paper, or boards. I've never heard of spraying alcohol on and can't wait to give it a try! I am amazed that you just made that scene up - no photo reference. Your colors are great and they express so much more than "real" colors could. Thanks for such great inspiration! :)

Donna T

jochem25
01-21-2007, 11:59 AM
great one!! like the wips you posted.

nana b
01-21-2007, 12:40 PM
What a neat demo!:clap: Could you let us see your reference picture or did you just make this up? It suprised me when you put the compliment to the real colors down first. I thought that was a recipe for mud but you didn't blend much, is that what makes it work? Could you explain that a little more?

Thanks, Nana

Donna T
01-21-2007, 12:50 PM
Oops, I totally missed the part about the photo reference. I'm still so impressed by your interpretation of the subject.

Donna T

Paula Ford
01-21-2007, 12:54 PM
Wonderful! I love it when you do these Deborah. Your colors are so gorgeous and I learn so much!

Paula

DebbieGS
01-21-2007, 01:38 PM
Thanks for the demo! I really appreciate when you and the other wonderful artist here at WC take the time to show us how you work!

Debbie

JWebber
01-21-2007, 02:49 PM
thanks for this Deborah, this site has been an amazing resource for me, the generosity of so many to share their techniques is fantastic!

You know I am going to be spraying my next attempt at landscape with alcohol now don't you!

nvcricket
01-21-2007, 03:14 PM
Thanks Deborah for the great lesson,
This is postively reinforcing. :clap: When I do this, I feel as if I am going against the laws of art and nature. In the end though after you add the final touches, the picture pulls together, and the complementary underpainting truely COMPLEMENTS the painting.

Is there a reason why is the tree the only spot that you didn't use a complementary color with in the underpainting? If you had used a complementary color there what color would you have used (dark purple/violet?)?

Your the greatest, thanks so much for posting this!

Carol

Bringer
01-21-2007, 05:39 PM
Hi Deborah,

I always pay attention to those sketches and underpaintings.
I've been doing pastels for about two and a half years (I guess) and I still wonder about underpaintings/undercolour masses. Namely what colours to use and how they will influence the upper layers.
Thanks for the demo.

Kind regards,

Josť

Constellation
01-21-2007, 06:22 PM
So THAT'S how it's done! Lovely and fresh and I'll never be able to do that! Donna

Deborah Secor
01-21-2007, 07:57 PM
Thank you all. I'm glad you enjoyed this one.

I just wanted to mention that I have a ref photo but not in digital format right now. If I can get a snapshot of the photo I'll show it...

It suprised me when you put the compliment to the real colors down first. I thought that was a recipe for mud but you didn't blend much, is that what makes it work? Could you explain that a little more?
Complements won't make mud at all IF they are of matching values. In other words, put down a pale green and a matching pale red (pink) and you get lyrical color. Put down a dark green and a matching dark red and you get beauty. Put down a light green and a dark red and you get mud. Blending makes it worse. I use broken color far more, laying them down side by side (as in the mountain here) or atop one another (as in the sandy foreground.) But keep in mind, too, that by spraying with the alcohol you fix the underlayer in place, which keeps the colors frrom physically blending anyway. They blend optically if you allow some from below to show, not blending at all. As a rule I keep my fingers out of the pastel--well, at least in terms of blending!

Is there a reason why is the tree the only spot that you didn't use a complementary color with in the underpainting? If you had used a complementary color there what color would you have used (dark purple/violet?)?
It's actually a very, very dark blue I used there. I wanted a strong dark to nail the nearness/distance of the tree. You just can't tell the real color in my photo--it looks warm in that environment, almost green, but trust me, it's a Townsend dark blue that's got a touch of red mixed into it. I could have used a very dark, dark red, too.

I've been doing pastels for about two and a half years (I guess) and I still wonder about underpaintings/undercolour masses. Namely what colours to use and how they will influence the upper layers.
Jose', I've done reams of experiments with color, making lots of charts where I use a long strip of one particular color and try other colors over it to see what happens. That, along with 25 years of painting, has taught me a lot. I suggest to my students that they paint the same painting on three different colored grounds as a start, just to see what happens when they do. I have them use a dark, a light, and a bright color. They're instructed not to use the same palette, but to let the colors they see on the paper influence their choices of colors. And they aren't supposed to look at one as they paint another. They're separate experiments. It's interesting to see what happens--give it a try!

I'll never be able to do that! Donna
But you will do what you do well and you'll learn and grow--right? So, it isn't important to do what I do necessarily. Do it YOUR way! :wink2:

Deborah

Deborah Secor
01-24-2007, 04:14 PM
I had some good questions from a student on this one. Did you notice that I broke all the 'rules' and put warm behind and cool in front? I mean, there's certainly some very warm oranges in the foreground plane, but overall it's cooler than the sunset mountain. I think it works because of the values. We expect more distant things to be cooler in color, yes, but also lighter in value (or tone.)

Just thought I'd point this out. It isn't perfect but I think it works pretty well!

Deborah

CindyW
01-24-2007, 06:59 PM
I had some good questions from a student on this one. Did you notice that I broke all the 'rules' and put warm behind and cool in front? I mean, there's certainly some very warm oranges in the foreground plane, but overall it's cooler than the sunset mountain. I think it works because of the values. We expect more distant things to be cooler in color, yes, but also lighter in value (or tone.)

Just thought I'd point this out. It isn't perfect but I think it works pretty well!

Deborah

LOVE it! Brilliant lovely colors!
Deborah, this was so enjoyable to view, thanks so much. :wave:

Also, the sun setting and pouring onto distant mountains with the foreground shadows, just as you have it, is so very believable because of a very important element you've shown the direction of the sunset resting on: the shrubby tree, which really helps cement the idea of a sunset, with its darker right side adding to it, too.

Cindy

meowmeow
01-25-2007, 07:58 AM
Wonderful demo, Deborah! I love how you used the colors and I like the somewhat abstract quality of the whole painting. It's also good to see your quick sketch.
Thanks for posting this.


Sandy