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webart
05-01-2009, 02:22 PM
I recently tried out painting with acrylics by doing some quick landscapes and so far I really like it. I would like to now paint something that has more focus on a specific subject (animals) and am not sure how to go about it. Should I first paint in the background and then paint the subject over it or should I sketch everything in and then paint the background around the subject? I'm new to acrylics and any tips and advice you guys can give would be appreciated. Thanks.

George Servais
05-01-2009, 02:33 PM
Definitely paint the background first. The reason I say this is because I can almost always tell when someone paints around a subject. Sometimes there seems to be a slight halo around it and other times one can see where the brush strokes slowed down as they near the subject. Just keep the edges soft and the strokes bold. I will when painting almost any subject do a quick sketch of the subject (slightly smaller than the finished subject) and then paint slightly over the edges leaving much of the area unpainted and then proceed with the background. Be careful when doing this not to leave any hard edges or ridges of paint as they are almost impossible to cover later on.

*dee*
05-01-2009, 03:12 PM
I almost always paint the furthest away thing first.

For one thing, it allows you to create a sense of perspective.

For me its a total pain in the #$$ to put the background in afterwards...I don't even like to FIX anything in the background after my foreground is well underway. I might sketch my subject (like an animal) in but I paint the background just inside the "subject space"....and then re-sketch if need be. If your animal is a long-haired, fluffy one, especially, the background will show through just a tad bit.

JStoltz
05-01-2009, 03:31 PM
Excellent advice from both of the above. I agree completely - Do a preliminary sketch, paint in background overlapping the main elements slightly, working from most distant point forward.




Jeff

*dee*
05-01-2009, 03:55 PM
One other thing....when you sketch in the above mentioned long-haired fluffy critter.....keep in mind that the lines you draw will ALSO show between the hairs.

I always sketch where the body is and just lightly draw in the very occasional hair. Helps keep me painting the hairs in the right direction...and prevents me from painting them too short or too long.

There is an excellent MTM class (Member To Member) that was done this winter on painting "Fur & Feathers".

Here's the link...... http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=541001&highlight=feathers

Bill_E
05-01-2009, 05:34 PM
Just to be contrary...it all depends. If it is a landscape with a big sweeping sky, I always like to do that first. On the other hand, if it is a wooded scene with bits of sky poking through, I'll start with the larger shapes and work the painting as a whole. For landscapes I often do a quick under painting. That usually tells me where I need to start for that particular painting. The final decision though often depends on my mood ;)

Katwyld
05-01-2009, 05:57 PM
I almost always do the entire background before doing anything in the foreground... Mostly for the same reason that George mentioned, the halo effect. I can see that it would really depend on what you're doing, though, if it's easy to go around it than maybe... but with all my animal paintings I've done the full background first, because ya just never know where the hairs will lay... I had to 'fix' a background around one of my animal portraits, and I ended up just redoing the dog's side because it wasn't looking good at all.

Good luck, and I'll be looking forward to seeing what you create!

Aires
05-01-2009, 11:09 PM
I'll agree with those who favor the background first. If the background doesn't work you will have saved yourself a lot of trouble later and unless you are very skilled with acrylics, it may come back to bite you later if you wait to do background last. While it may not be the case with every painting, it is probably the safest way to go. I recently saw a painting that showed very plainly that the background had been put in last and it detracted from the painting, at least to my eyes. I could see where the background left ridges around the objects and the strokes also showed. Once ridges or brush strokes have dried, you cannot cover them. It is certainly the safest way to go as nothing detracts from an otherwise nice painting than those hard edges and ridges where two items meet. -- I prefer to do a sketch first so I have my pespectives right and don't have to deal with mistakes of judgment, especially in a detailed composition. If you let your background dry first and then do your sketch with something light (like soft pastels) you can then wipe it off easily with a damp cloth if you need to make corrections. Just my opinion, not the last word by any means.

bertschikon
05-02-2009, 04:12 AM
There is a situation in which you can paint the foreground first and that is if you are trying to set the overall tonal balance of a painting. I often do this, painting the image in monochrome initially to set the tonal range and then the background which can overlap slightly and then the forground again in colour. It is really a question of preference. If you are just setting out on this painting voyage of discovery why not try both methods on small paintings to find which suits you best. One of the great advantages of acrylics is that if you make a mistake just wait until the paint dries (not long) and then overpaint.

Lady Carol
05-02-2009, 09:42 AM
It is personal preference. There are no hard and fast rules as to how to approach a painting. I do not always paint the background first; however, if elements are distinctly over the back ground then it is easier to paint what appears to be further away first, than last. I must add that I have a very unconventional way of working but it works for me and my art does not appear to suffer for my method. If I was stuck on rules then painting would be very difficult and I would be unhappy.

With time you will develop the best way for you to approach a piece.

krpolak
05-02-2009, 11:10 AM
webart (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/member.php?u=125288),

I will give you a different advice: PAINT EVERYTHING AT ONCE! :)

Regards,

K.Polak

noodle1
05-02-2009, 11:38 AM
I pretty much do a bit of everything suggested. I rarely cover the entire background of any surface with a single color, but block in areas and then paint in the background. If some paint should flow into the single area not a big deal but I'd rather put in a color base that is more condusive to where I'll be going with the main focal point. The subject I draw with a brush, just placing eyes, nose, snout whatever with light sketch, so the proportions are correct, everything else is with a brush and what I'm seeing.

But there aren't any hard and fast rules, do whatever makes you comfortable and your painting flow for you. Each one I think will be different perhaps so instead of locking yourself into a one way street ya know.


Elaine

*dee*
05-02-2009, 07:54 PM
bertschikon,

There is a situation in which you can paint the foreground first and that is if you are trying to set the overall tonal balance of a painting. I often do this, painting the image in monochrome initially to set the tonal range and then the background which can overlap slightly and then the forground again in colour. It is really a question of preference. If you are just setting out on this painting voyage of discovery why not try both methods on small paintings to find which suits you best. One of the great advantages of acrylics is that if you make a mistake just wait until the paint dries (not long) and then overpaint.
That initial monochrome, for the purposes of this discussion, is an "elaborate & detailed sketch"...IMO. An "under-painting"...right?

You then proceed to the background "which can overlap slightly " ...."then the foreground again in colour".

Overlapping the background slightly eliminates, or minimizes, some of the above mentioned issues (ridges, terminated brushstrokes, etc). Which is pretty much what everyone agrees upon.


As a beginner...which I still am...background first, is simpler. And I've gotta say...I like that there are no hard & fast rules! :D

bertschikon
05-03-2009, 08:04 AM
Hi Dee, Yes it has to be a fairly elaborate sketch otherwise the object of obtaining an overall tonal balance would not be achieved. I tend to use earth colours, umbers and ochres for the underpainting, although I have used black and white on occasions. In my experience the background of a painting is of lesser importance than the subject matter and therefore to paint the background first could influence how the subject matter is tackled.

However, this approach is not set in tablets of stone. I am in agreement with what others have said - there are no rules and you should be guided by preference on the day.