View Full Version : Underpainting in Burnt Umber

10-07-2009, 05:36 PM
The black gessoed canvas is not working out so hot. What about doing a value study in Burnt Umber. Should you mix Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Umber for darkest values? Should you do the value study lighter then the original? Would it be ok to do the value study in acrylics? Sorry for all the questions. I'm exploring different ways to complete a painting and still haven't found what works for me. I keep hitting a brick wall.:)

10-07-2009, 10:34 PM
Janet, I am currently doing an underpainting using Artisan w/m burnt umber, burnt sienna and titanium white and it's working well for me. I have learnt from past experience not to take the darks too dark at this stage.
You can use an acrylic underpainting but it has to be very thin. I have done that in the past but I just prefer to do it all now with w/m's.

10-07-2009, 10:58 PM
Burnt umber is a good choice for undertones. Ult. blue would be fine; although, they both tend to shift a bit red. This is a good place for phthalo blue since they are more complementary I believe, but not as dark in shade. Raw sienna can help with some of the lighter tones if you mix with titanium white.

I prefer to keep my undertones in the mid range of values. From a 0-10 scale, I'd use 4-7. It gives me room to go in either direction.

What was it about the black ground that was giving you trouble?

10-07-2009, 11:32 PM
My oil painting took a big step forward when I started doing underpaintings. My underpainting is usually monochromatic, but without any specific "formulas. I have mixed browns (burnt umber, raw or burnt sienna) with blues (probably Ultramarine or Prussian) or sometimes greens. You could use grays using just black and white. The idea is to work out the composition and the values without having to worry about making color decisions. I do not glaze - so I attempt to make my values accurate. My understanding is that when you do glaze, your underpainting should be somewhat lighter in value, as the values will tend to get a bit darker with each layer you glaze.

When your underpainting is dry, then you can choose colors that match the values you have already established. As soon as you put a brush stroke of a color down - or even before you place it on the canvas - you should be able to compare the value to the underpainting. In some places, the gray, or neutral nature of the underpainting, will need little (or no) paint on top, as the gray will be the starting point for your shadow colors. Letting some of the underpainting show through, or painting some of the more transparent colors over the gray, will often create a unifying undertone to the entire painting.

Hopefully this makes sense and may give you a good starting point. Or, of course, you may do things completely differently!


10-08-2009, 12:12 AM
I have used a formula similar to Don's idea for many decades given to me by my old Oil teacher.

A coat of 50% turpentine and 50% Yellow Ochre. You can substitute a mix of Lemon Yellow and Yellow Ochre, 50% each. Let dry.
Add a coat of Burnt or Raw Sienna cut with 50% turpentine over the top of that. Or you can use the wipeout method, which is similar to staining a wood surface only rubbing in as much as you want the layer dark.

The point of this exercise is to add light to the under-layers of the painting giving it luminosity. In addition the dark, but not too dark overcoat pulls all of the upper layers of additional paint into a nice Chromatic Color Scheme when dry. This undercoating is especially beneficial for portraits.

10-08-2009, 07:47 AM
Lulu, Thank you Lulu for your help! I think using the WMOs for the underpainting might be a good idea. With acrylics I'll probably have issues with blending. The reason that I switched to WMOs from acrylics was to be able to blend easily. I guess I'm going to need to acquire some patience a wait a day while the underpainting dries. :)

David, Thank you for the great info! I haven't tried the Phthalo Blue yet in any of my paintings. I've been avoiding it. I'll try it with the Burnt Umber to see what I get. I don't have Raw Sienna yet in the Holbein. The black ground was causing be grief. Trying to work light to dark was just too weird. It's much easier to lighten a color then to darken it as you go. Because working this way creates a weir overlap with your lights before your darks I need to redo all the lights again and was just getting lost with the original scheme. :)

Don, Thank you for the great advice! I was thinking of just using black and white. I might try that one as well. I wouldn't be glazing either so I think I'd go with making the values accurate. I think it will be a good roadmap. It made perfect sense and it sounds like a good way to go. :)

Jan, Great colors to tone a canvas. I can see how it would work great for portraits. Thank you for the tip! :)

10-08-2009, 12:28 PM
Lots of good advice here, Janet.

Burnt umber and a blue such as ultramarine or phthalo will certainly give you good near-black darks - or you could use burnt sienna if you prefer a more chromatic brown, or raw umber for a less chromatic one.

black+white mixes tend to give you bluish greys rather than neutral ones. It can be useful to add a little of one of the browns to such mixes to swing them from low-chroma blues to neutral or even to low-chroma browns/oranges as grisailles under flesh.

I'd encourage people to stick with one medium when learning - I mean, do the whole painting in Oils, rather than starting in Acrylics and then switching.:)

Regard the drying time between layers as thinking/planning time - and its always possible to have two or three paintings on the go simultaneously, of course.


10-08-2009, 12:45 PM
Dave, thank you for the tips on color! I think you have a good point regarding doing the whole painting in oils. For me I think it's a little bit of a security blanket issue trying to hang on to something I know and understand acrylics. Good idea to do more than one painting I'll try that. Thank you for you help! :)

10-13-2009, 10:05 AM
Janet have you seen Karin Wells' site?




10-13-2009, 10:51 AM
If you look at the history of underpainting there is actually a bit more to it than just making a visual choice of colours, there is also a certain amount of chemistry involved.

I would tend to use earth colours for an underpainting, simply because they are good siccatives, what this means is that the earth pigments act like a sort of catalyst to help the oxidising/drying process which means that not only does the underpainting tend to dry quicker, it also helps facilitate better drying for the layers of paint above.

I personally wouldn't use blues in my underpainting as you don't get the siccative properties of the earth pigments, and I certainly would never use white as the drying times are very poor and can affect the stability of subsequent layers (you can buy 'undercoating white' but TBH I'm a little wary even of this)

I'd say raw umber is a good choice for creating underpaintings with fairly neutral shades that work well with either warm or cool overpaintings :)

10-13-2009, 11:05 AM
Janet have you seen Karin Wells' site?



although Karins paintings are excellent I'd be slightly wary of some of the advice she gives - on two of those links she talks about using a sharpie to draw directly onto the canvas - bad idea! although the paintings may seem ok to begin with, the pigments used in markers like this can migrate through the paint layers over time eventually ruining the painting,

if you've ever tried to paint over your kids felt tip drawings on the wall only to have them soak through the paint no matter how hard you try you will have an idea of what I mean, it might take a fair bit longer with a sharpie, but in time it will happen :eek:

I'd also be careful using ivory black and white in underpaintings as the slow drying times could cause problems down the line (remember fat over lean also means slower drying over fast drying)

10-13-2009, 11:16 AM
Tommy, Thank you for the links... they're great and give me some good ideas on how to approach this. :)

Graham, thank you for the great tips. I never noticed the fact she used a sharpie but I agree it probably wouldn't be a good idea. She has some great info on underpainting though. :)

10-13-2009, 11:23 AM
wow there is loads of wonderful information on Karen Well's site Tommy, thanks for posting the links.

10-14-2009, 07:25 PM
It was Karin who really got me into using raw umber and white for the under painting and I agree with Greywolf's crits. I winced when I saw the sharpie tip. Don't use pencil either unless you seal it with acrylic. Didn't know the earth colors were so chemically agreeable aside from the fat on lean principle though.

10-14-2009, 07:41 PM
This brings up a question in my mind. If I use watered down raw umber as an underpainting, does that weaken the paint film? I have read Mark Weber's book on water mixable oils, and I believe he stated that in there.

Because if, as greywolf says, I can't use white in an underpainting due to its slow drying, then I would want to thin the umber and use the canvas for the white. But if watered down umber = weak paint, then how does one do an underpainting properly using water solubles?

Oh, maybe by using a medium. But that is precisely what I am trying to avoid by switching to water solubles.

10-14-2009, 10:16 PM
I didn't know about the safflower oil caution in Titanium White for underpainting. I'll write to Karin and see if her paintings are falling apart.

This from Winsor & Newton:

Artisan whites are not recommended for these purposes because they are made with the slower drying safflower oil. For extensive underpainting we recommend Underpainting White from Artists' Oil Colour. Remember however, water cannot be used with this product.

Bummer. I've got lots of Titanium white in the sky.

10-14-2009, 10:18 PM
Winsor & Newton needs to come out with an Artisan underpainting white. Using a lead-based white is down right dangerous.

10-15-2009, 06:09 AM
Acrylics are starting to sound like a good idea for underpainting at least I wouldn't need to worry about the drying time of the pigments. I wonder if the WMOs alkyd fast dyring medium would work?

catchafairy for the Holbein Duo Aquas I use 1/2 water and 1/2 linseed oil for my medium and it works great.

10-15-2009, 06:15 AM
I agree, it does make life difficult not having an underpainting white in artisan.

Yes thinning with water can make for a weak surface as you are thinning the binder too, you can however use a mixture of Artisan quick dry medium & Artisan thinners, the thinners allows for thinner washes of umber while the quick dry medium acts as a binder, I find that this creates a fairly tough underpainting which because of the quick dry medium oxidises quickly to maintain your fat over lean rule.

Hope that helps :)

10-15-2009, 06:22 AM
Yes Acrylics are another choice for underpainting, apparently the Flemish painters actually used egg tempera for their underpaintings as this allowed a faster workflow in the earlier stages of their paintings, so its not exactly new to have a different media for the underpainting, and their paintings have survived for centuries with no loss of brilliance :)

I'm going to have to experiment with egg tempera one day, it looks like an interesting medium to play with :)

10-15-2009, 08:45 AM
I was wondering...

I've been painting this painting of Cleopatra and Cesarion (WIP is on the oil forum).


I've used water in the underpainting stages, but the paint has not been watered down much. I need to make a thin overpaint layer and was wondering should I just dilute the overpaint layer with water? Or use oil? What do people prefer with wso when it comes to overpainting layers?

Leena :)

10-15-2009, 08:55 AM
Leena I use the 1/2 water and 1/2 linseed oil for glazing. I don't do a lot of glazing but I did use it for the National Geographic woman and Ladakh India girl painting 4 and 5 in my signature line.

10-15-2009, 09:06 AM
Thank you, Janet! I actually have a bottle of painting medium / oil that is meant for water soluble oils. I've usually just mixed it with water (half and half) as it mixes totally. And then once mixed, used that as the liquid to thin my paint when I need layering.

No idea could this cause trouble in the future, but this time I would like to be sure, because this painting is soooo time consuming I'd like to be on the safe side before applying the overpainting layer (even when it is probably just one layer).

Leena :)

10-15-2009, 09:14 AM
You're welcome! Both of the paintings that I refered to are over a year old and still look the same as when I first painted them. I don't varnish so I think that it's a good sign that the mixture works fine. It was my oil painting teacher that recommended I try the mixture and I'm glad he did. I find it gives a good balance. He was teaching me glazing.

10-15-2009, 09:28 AM
Leena, keep the over layer fattier than the initial layers which means more oil than your underpainting. What white did you use?

10-16-2009, 02:43 AM
I bought a box of Van Cogh water soluble oils - one white there only - I do believe it is titanium white.

So far only ultramarine blue, burnt umber and a little white used to mix the colors.

Leena :)

10-16-2009, 08:45 AM
Leena: Your Titanium white no doubt is safflower oil based which means it's slower drying than linseed based oils. If you used a lot of white I would add a little safflower oil to the colors you add over the white. Don't add linseed oil. Also give the white a long drying time. I'd wait as long as you can before over painting - several weeks or more.

Winsor & Newton makes a water soluble safflower oil for mixing into your paints.

10-16-2009, 08:47 AM
btw your painting looks amazing Leena. :)

10-16-2009, 09:03 AM
If you paint in thin layers, and give plenty of drying-time between layers, the white paint is unlikely to be a problem in practice, though I agree with Tommy's advice, which is all sound. Addition of even small amounts of raw umber into the white will speed its drying time substantially.

Given that W&N make a WS linseed oil, I wonder why they don't make an Artisan underpainting white from titanium white in WS-linseed? Perhaps someone might like to ask them about it, petition them to do so?


10-16-2009, 10:23 AM
Are all titanium white saflower oil based? I used titanium white on the 2 paintings that I did glazing on and only let them dry for 24 hours but they're still holding up after a year. I used linseed oil for the glazing as mentioned before was it just luck that they held up or is it maybe the properties of the titanium white I was using? I used the Lukas Berlin Titanium White at that time and I've recently switched to all Holbein including the Titanium White. I wondering if the Holbein Titanium White will create problems.

10-16-2009, 10:36 AM
Manufacturers use safflower oil because it is less yellow, so achieves brighter whites than linseed.

In traditional oils, some manufacturers make titanium in linseed, but I don't know if this is true for the WM-oils currently.

As I said above, providing you don't paint in thick layers, and give plenty of drying time between layers, you ought to be OK in practice. Also, admixture with any faster-drying colours will help.


10-16-2009, 12:00 PM
on two of those links she talks about using a sharpie to draw directly onto the canvas - bad idea! Do you think she means she uses a sharpie on acetate as she was talking about transferring her painting? She says later:

"This a drawing on Acetate. I use prepared acetate instead of tracing paper because I can see through it. Believe me, it comes in handy later in the painting if my lines begin to "wander" and I need to correct.
I use a "Sharpie" Permanent Marker as it makes a clean line and doesn't smear.
I use a sheet of graphite paper and a ballpoint pen to transfer the drawing to the canvas. "

10-18-2009, 01:11 AM
I recently have tried painting with a mix of Holbein WMOs and Golden Open Acrylics. They are amazing together. I only used water. Previously, when I used Holbein WMOs by themselves, I used Holbein's linseed oil as the medium. I like mixing the two brands. It speeds up the drying time a bit, the mix is amazingly like butter. But, this tip about not using Titanium white in underpainting is so appreciated! Thank you.

Thanks for the tip about not using the Sharpie! Or pencils either....hmmm, what works best for underdrawings? Would like to skip the varnishing over the drawing, and just get right into the painting.

10-18-2009, 07:35 AM
the best thing for an underdrawing would probably be sanguine, which has been used since the middle ages for underdrawings.

I use raw natural sanguine but you can get it in pencil form - conte do true sanguine pencils for example, you don't need to varnish over the drawing just spray some fixative over the canvas and within 10-15 minutes you are ready to start :)

Wuzzy, I was unsure wether she meant on the acetate as well, as she certainly mentions using it on acetate, but on another post she does talk about drawing directly onto the canvas !!

10-19-2009, 06:49 PM
Karin says she uses Liquin, Galkyd and/or other commercial hi-tech mediums. I don't know these mediums so can't comment but apparently no probs with her technique.

10-20-2009, 06:54 AM
I haven't used Galkyd but I have used Liquin for about 5 minutes it had the result of tiggering my migraines.

I have one more black gessoed canvas and then I'll move on to doing a value study in Burnt Umber. I think I'll try the WMOs for the underpainting and use the Ultramarine Blue with Burnt Umber for the darkest value. I'll go back and read everything Karin posted on her process before I start.

Thanks again everyone you've been very helpful! :)

10-20-2009, 03:02 PM
I contacted the manufacturers of Van Gogh H2Oils, Holbein Duo Aqua and Lukas Berlin. So far I heard back about the Van Gogh and Lukas Berlin and they both use Saflower Oil in their Titanium White. I'm sure the response from Holbein will be the same. :)

11-02-2009, 12:56 PM
Holbein just replied to my email and surpisingly they use linseed oil in their Titanium White.

11-04-2009, 10:19 AM
thats interesting ! I'll have to try out their white so see how it performs:)

11-04-2009, 10:30 AM
Am I missing something here?
Holbein having linseed oil in their Titanium White is not surprising to me.
It's watermiscible OIL. No surprise here.

11-04-2009, 11:12 AM
Am I missing something here?
Holbein having linseed oil in their Titanium White is not surprising to me.
It's watermiscible OIL. No surprise here.

Yes, you are missing something here, so it would be a good idea to rein in the sarcasm.

What you are missing is that the majority of titanium white paints formulated now tend to use safflower oil or one of the other oils such as poppy or occasionally walnut, in preference to linseed oil, as linseed exhibits more propensity to primary yellowing - that is reversible yellowing in the absence of light - and probably to secondary non-reversible yellowing too.

However, linseed-bound paints are a better choice for underpainting as they produce a faster-drying, stronger and more dimensionally-stable paintfilm.


11-04-2009, 12:59 PM

Thank you for explaining this to me!

I am 61 years old and just tend to "think linseed" when I think "oil"-- not sarcasm, just operating on prior "older" knowledge and/or misunderstanding.

So, if you don't mind helping me to understand this further...........this linseed oil in Titanium White is a bad thing it sounds like. Who wants yellowing! What are we to do? I am using Holbein linseed oil with my WMO. Is it yellowing? If so, that doesn't make me too pleased.

As I was painting yesterday, I was painting with Golden Open Acrylics and Holbein WMOs, and to my amazement, not only did the paints themselves mix like butter together, but, also the mediums did as well: the linseed oil and the Golden Open Medium (gloss). It was amazing. Absolutely no separation at all. Does anyone know WHY these materials work so beautifully together?

Also, I don't understand what you mean by primary yellowing and secondary yellowing. Would you mind explaining these terms?

Most sincerely and apologetically,

11-04-2009, 04:48 PM
Regarding mixing Golden Open Acrylics with the Holbein WMO. Holbein has stated that their WMOs can be mixed with acrylics. Here's a thread I had started a while back regarding this topic: http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=582607

11-04-2009, 05:30 PM
A variety of different "drying" oils are used in paint-making - the commonest are linseed, walnut, safflower, and poppy. Linseed contains a higher proportion of linolenic acid than the others, and this contributes to its faster drying and stronger paint film, but also to more tendency to yellowing. The others contain linoleic acid (notice that linolenic is different from linoleic - linolenic has three double-bonds per molecule, linoleic has two).

So other oils may be used for whites because they yellow less, but are also slower-drying and form a less strong paint-film.

Neither are "bad" - they are just a little different, for different uses.

In more detail:

Primary and secondary yellowing - the whole thread, but particularly my post #3

On the basic chemistry of the different oils:

On possible chemical mechanisms underlying yellowing, particularly page 3

If you do searches of the main oils forum for "yellowing", and for the different oils - "walnut", "safflower", particularly, there are a lot of threads with relevant discussions. I'd like to take the opportunity to make the point that even though its not specifically the WMOs being discussed, the information is still relevant.

As Janet's commented, its possible to mix the WMO with other sorts of paint precisely because they are water-miscible. It does add another layer of complexity though, when it comes to issues of longevity and so on, and I'd agree with the comments David Clemons makes in the thread Janet linked to.


11-06-2009, 12:32 AM
Why not use Yellow Ocher Gesso or Venetian Red Gesso instead?


11-06-2009, 07:19 AM
I use gesso mixed with different colors of acrylics and it does work well to tone my canvas.

11-06-2009, 07:27 AM
Why not use Yellow Ocher Gesso or Venetian Red Gesso instead?

those can be used as well, but raw umber gives a more neutral underpainting and acts as a siccative helping later layers to dry a little better :)

Yellows and reds can have quite a strong influence on the colour balance of the finished painting - though sometimes you might actually want that!

BTW you wouldn't use gesso for an underpainting - its only for priming the canvas!

11-07-2009, 03:27 AM
I am so glad this thread has happened.
It has opened my eyes to things.
Apparently, not only does Holbein use linseed oil in the Titanium White, but in other colors as well. The article I read (and I am sorry, I read so many, I can't refer to it for us) alluded to the fact that some colors had a safflower and some had a linseed oil. Geesh. And, I was loving Holbein WMO. Any suggestions?

Oh, BTW, I mix the Golden Open acrylic with Holbein WMO because the textures are different. The Golden Open is thinner, creamer; whereas the H WMO are thicker, more like "real" oil paint. I like the immediacy of being able to grab either texture at will, without having to mix. I was just blown away about the mixability of these two products. BUT, again, when reading the paper work on Holbein, it said to make sure to "mix well" to make sure there would be no separation. SOOOO, my next thought was, WELL, if that is the case.......would these colors separate over a certain amount of time? Say, my painting is finished and 5 years later, I begin to see separation?............hmmmmmmm? Is this a concern?

11-07-2009, 07:20 AM
some colors had a safflower and some had a linseed oil. Geesh. And, I was loving Holbein WMO. Any suggestions?

There's nothing wrong with that. Issues araise when people add excessive extra amounts of oils by over-enthusiastic use of painting-mediums.

The central issue being discussed in this thread with regard to whites, is the idea that titanium white in linseed is preferable as an underpainting white, and titanium white in safflower might be seen as preferable as a top-coat white in those instances where one wishes to keep the very brightest white. It would be nice if all the manufacturers made both.


11-07-2009, 11:45 AM
I guess I still wonder about "what time will do" to any of these (expressly mixing acrylics with WMOs) and it's all so new, I guess we are the guinea pigs? Or does someone know of any testing that has been done with regard to the mixing of WMOs with other media? With the linseed oil seeping through from that bottom layer? I recently saw some paintings done in traditional oils, and they were all beautiful works; but, they had all yellowed and darkened quite a bit. I was so saddened to see this; as at one time, they were gorgeous paintings.

11-09-2009, 09:04 PM
I guess I still wonder about "what time will do" to any of these (expressly mixing acrylics with WMOs) and it's all so new, I guess we are the guinea pigs? Or does someone know of any testing that has been done with regard to the mixing of WMOs with other media? With the linseed oil seeping through from that bottom layer? I recently saw some paintings done in traditional oils, and they were all beautiful works; but, they had all yellowed and darkened quite a bit. I was so saddened to see this; as at one time, they were gorgeous paintings.

I too am eagerly awaiting an answer to this question I work with mixed media all of the time and love combining things. I will say that I've been leaching the oil out of the paint and mixing it with wax for encaustic painting and have yet to have any issues.


11-10-2009, 05:14 AM
Winsor & newton definately recommend against mixing WMO's and acrylics, mostly because they themselves don't know what the long term effects of mixing the two mediums would be :eek:

Its an unfortunate fact of history that many experiments that seemed like a good idea at the time resulted in major disasters in the long run, so though Holbiens marketing ploy of stating that you can mix their WMO's with any other paint may sell more tubes, its actually an irresponsible line to take - one that may even damage their reputation in the long run!

using acrylics for underpainting is one thing - mixing them directly with oil paints is something I would be extremely wary of doing, but at the end of the day its your painting and only you can make the decision on whether to take the risk.

11-10-2009, 05:20 AM
mixing wax and oil is probably a bit safer as they are reasonably compatible with each other anyway - its not unusual for paint manufacturers to add waxes to oil paints to alter the consistency

However I would say that artist quality oil pastels would be the better choice for mixing with encaustics as they are a mix of oil and wax anyway so would most likely be more compatible - and easier to mix too!

11-14-2009, 11:12 AM
Help, I'm new to oils and still don't understand why underpainting is necessary. Can you really tell whether a painting has been underpainted or not? And if you lay down thick coats or thin coats with multiple glazes, wouldn't the underpainting be covered up completely anyway?

11-14-2009, 12:27 PM
Hi tjbintz, IMO an underpainting is not necessary but it can make it easier. For example I just started using an monochrome underpainting for my last few paintings and I use it more as a guide to values. This is a method I don't plan on keeping but just a stepping stone in learning. For me I analyze my paintings and determine where I need improvement. I try to focus on one thing at a time otherwise I feel overwhelmed. Rite now it's values and probably next will be color variation. Yes if you lay down paint in thick coats the underpainting would be used as a guide. I usually lay down paint thinly at first getting thicker only in the final layer. When you glaze you would not use thick coats as the whole idea would be for the underpainting to show through. When glazing you would want thin transparent colors. :)

11-28-2009, 06:46 AM
I agree with Janet on both counts. I find that underpainting does make the whole painting just plain easier, overall. And in using glazes it's pretty much essential.


11-30-2009, 03:24 PM
TBH I rarely use underpainting now, I still paint in layers but I start out in colour and progressively deepen the shadows with glazes and strengthen the highlights by scumbling with white.

I do teach underpainting though as its an important process for beginners to learn - if only for getting tonal values right, but its not an essential part of oil painting, the great thing about oils is the wide diversity of techniques that can be used :)

For myself I'm leaning towards the flemish type of painting where 'underpaintings' were made in colour using egg tempera then overpainted in oils, though I'm not actually using egg tempera yet - just the idea of the colour underpainting

01-05-2010, 03:18 PM
I have done most of my under paintings with acrylic, and it has pro and cons.
The pros it is fast...and I am always in a hurry :) and I can do experiments in texture quickly to let show through in places if I want.
the con, it give a slicker surface to work on which takes some tome to get use to.
Also I haven't found the need to use any mediums with the h2o oils, when I did try the mediums it just seemed to oily.

02-10-2010, 08:15 PM
I'm working on some painting with Artisan oils and would like some insight on how to mimic the process of under painting with conventional oil. the process mimicked a chamois cloth with vine charcoal in its forgiveness.
was something like : burnt sienna diluted into even amounts
damar varnish + turpentine + Shellac. With a rag wipe this on the canvass, then use brushes/rag/Q-tips to remove the paint to define the Light mass on your subject. If u mess up, just wipe the area wet-into-wet and it was a simple eraser method.

im trying to do this with artisan, but ofc Burnt sienna + water means the color wipes on the canvass nice and thin, and removes great...it got tacky in 15-20 minutes and pretty much had to be removed with a lot of force by 60mins :( very frustrating. i had to work in patches and caused the under painting to loose the cohesive tone/texture

id like a way to thin the Artisan oil (lower its viscosity for use with a rag) but not effect drying time, maybe even extend it somewhat. i have bought the artisan Thinner which claims X1 drying speed, but am awaiting its arrival. in the meantime does anyone have experience with this? or suggestions? i tried the stand oil, that was horrible. 1) water made it foam, 2) the pigment worked like Elmers glue on the canvass. ill include the image sometime later.

02-10-2010, 08:57 PM
damar varnish + turpentine + Shellac.

Just to comment on this - that would be a recipe for a horribly sticky mess. Damar gets really sticky and tacky very quickly - and the only place for shellac in an oil-painting would be as a very dilute coat onto real gesso on a rigid panel, to cut down its absorbancy. Shellac is very brittle, and very prone to yellow.

If you want to do a wipeout method with umber (or another brown), the first thing you need is a pretty low-absorbancy canvas/panel. The way to achieve this is to put down a lean coat of oil-paint, and let it cure really well for at least several weeks before use. Best of all would be lead-primed, but a canvas treated with a lean smooth coat of titanium white oil-paint (plus perhaps just a touch of raw umber to tone it) and let dry well would be servicable. If you are using a typical presetretched canvas, it also helps if you first fill the grain of the canvas with additional coats of acrylic gesso primer applied with a painting knife or the edge of an old credit card or similar. Give this a couple of days to dry well, then sand very lightly, wipe down with a damp cloth, allow to dry again for a day then coat with the white oilpaint as I've already described.

I'd use umber and a bit of OMS for this (but you want to avoid solvents).

Wait for the artisan thinners. Or put down a very thin layer of linseed oil (not stand oil) on the surface and then work the paint into that.

02-10-2010, 09:45 PM
i'm probably confusing the canvass treatment, and varnish methods i learned.
Any technical reason why i would be using burnt umber over burnt sienna?

02-11-2010, 05:12 AM
burnt umber helps the paint to dry quicker so that you can move on to the next phase quicker, but Burnt sienna would be fine - it still dries relatively quickly.

I would rub a thin layer of linseed onto the canvas then apply the paint over that, you should find you can rub out your details fairly easy then :)

02-11-2010, 09:41 AM
Right, the reason why umbers are traditionally used for underpainting is that, in addition to being dark, they also cause the oil to dry quickly.

However, with the existence of modern fast-drying alkyd mediums, using umbers for the underpainting doesn't seem as relevant to modern practice.

02-11-2010, 10:46 AM
I did the background for this with burnt umber thinned with plain old water ...

As a side note I'm not really that keen on the angel wing thing but a friend of mine is building a line of furniture with wings and wanted me to design so I quickly painted this canvas as a prototype. The undercoat dried quickly so I was able to paint the wing later that day.


02-11-2010, 04:24 PM
Right, the reason why umbers are traditionally used for underpainting is that, in addition to being dark, they also cause the oil to dry quickly.

However, with the existence of modern fast-drying alkyd mediums, using umbers for the underpainting doesn't seem as relevant to modern practice.
so long as you don't mind the disgusting stink of Alkyds that is LOL, personally I never use alkyds and neither do a lot of other people, so the burnt umber thing is still just as relevant to modern painting as to the old masters

02-11-2010, 09:29 PM
thought the old masters used burnt Sienna, i must not have paid close enough attention
nothing figurative here, (you can see how areas built up as i had to remove the tacky sienna and start over.)
looking to gray the background, green squares cools->warms (see how phthalo covers)
i get the feeling the thinner wont be how i imagine

maybe i should just do it in charcoal and then seal it? but it's been all digital for me the past 8 years, thought id get into the paint to see how it felt

02-11-2010, 10:00 PM
a Mandelbrot set ... I like it (your canvas).