View Full Version : underpainting acrylics

03-05-2001, 02:03 PM
I am new to this site. I am a sculptor who is interested in doing a painting of grapes. My question is, Is there a rule of thumb regarding underpainting colors? Treating grapes realistically, what would be the suggestions as to underpainting colors?
Do they have to be complimentary?

03-06-2001, 04:51 PM
Welcome aboard!

That's a good question. I'm moving this thread to the Acrylic forum, where it be seen by folks who can help... :-)


B. Scott Burkett
Founder, WetCanvas!

03-06-2001, 07:11 PM
There's no "rule" perse, but many possible approaches that all lead to a successful image.

You can paint a grape shape a dark color green or purple, then add a bit of white to the paint and paint in the lighter values. A bit more white..and paint the lighter ones still, etc., until the very last thing you paint is the brightest highlight. This uses the value scale system.

You could paint a yellow layered grape shape, mix up some green say using thalo blue and yellow pale, then..using enough water to make it transparent..wash the color over the yellow grape to create a nice colored green grape. Then add highlights. This thinks more along lines of glazes.

You could even paint the whole thing using black and white paint only...leaning to make things a bit lighter, and all in grayscale. Then..you could glaze/wash transparent colors over the gray scale. Keeping the grayscale lighter is done with the anticipation of the colors to be glazed over.

You could think in terms of a "colorist" and instead of white added to the original dark color and making successive ligher values, you add warmer colors where the light strikes most directly, and cooler colors where the grape turns away from the lightsource. Saving a glint of pure white only for the strongest highlight.


The Artsmentor

"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas

[This message has been edited by lseiler (edited March 06, 2001).]

John H
03-06-2001, 10:27 PM
Here's a demo about painting a pear in acrylics that you might get some ideas from.

03-20-2001, 06:13 PM
Dear Artroom,

There is no rule of thumb for acrylics at all. However, if you are used to working in oils to do your sculpture studies, underpainting is a practical way to go.

Since acrylic is a very flexible, direct medium you can choose to use it as watercolor/gouache with washes, as glazes as with oil or direct. If you prefer an underpainting, use the compliment of your green, red or violet grapes...the same relative color as your scene. or a neutral warm or cool gray tone. Generally speaking, complementary colors yield the most exciting and active imagery. But, with a sculpture study do whatever you feel works best for your subject.

If you are however, trying to do a realistic painting rather than a study for a sculpture, setup a realistic group of grapes in their natural colors. Arrange the grapes live using the background you prefer. Paint them as you see them. If you want "punch" to the painting, a complementary color will be a good choice as an underpainting, but use an overall painterly color not flat application of the paint. If you'd like a more harmonious, homogeneous look, use an analogous color scheme from the start.


L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

03-22-2001, 02:28 PM

Can you please explain the term "overall painterly color"? I guess it is NOT a"a flat application" but I'd like to understand more.



03-22-2001, 07:10 PM

What I mean by a painterly application of color is not really a technical term but rather a description of how the paint is applied.

There are generally two ways to apply color to a surface as a base for a painting. One way, is to use a solid, even application of paint so that the overall effect is the same. The other, is to stroke in different directions, up and down, all around so there is a sense of texture even though one general color is used. (Sort of the difference between a flat latex painted wall, and one that has the same color with stroking in different directions.) It adds a bit of visual interest and depth to the background from the start.

Hope this explains it better, if not, please let me know and I will try again http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif


L. Diane Johnson (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/) NAPA, PSA
Plein Air Workshops (http://www.LDianeJohnson.com/workshops/)

03-23-2001, 11:44 AM

Crystal clear, thanks! http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/smile.gif


[This message has been edited by DavidF (edited March 23, 2001).]