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Old 10-06-2013, 07:14 PM
FWinwood FWinwood is offline
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Indirect Painting

Hi, I've been trying the indirect painting technique recently, but I really don't want to have to wait so long for the oil underpainting to dry, I was just wondering, could I mix the paint used for the underpainting with the glaze I'm going to use for the successive layers? I want to do this because the glaze drastically cuts down the drying time of the paint and therefore the time needed to wait before putting on another layer. (I'm aware there are other kinds of paints that dry quicker)

Also, what is the exact point of the underpainting? Is it just for it's opaqueness? If so, couldn't I use a very small amount of glaze to my underpainting to keep it's general opaqueness but quicken the drying time? Wouldn't that work just as well?
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Old 10-06-2013, 08:32 PM
Mythrill Mythrill is offline
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Re: Indirect Painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by FWinwood
Hi, I've been trying the indirect painting technique recently, but I really don't want to have to wait so long for the oil underpainting to dry, I was just wondering, could I mix the paint used for the underpainting with the glaze I'm going to use for the successive layers? I want to do this because the glaze drastically cuts down the drying time of the paint and therefore the time needed to wait before putting on another layer. (I'm aware there are other kinds of paints that dry quicker)

Also, what is the exact point of the underpainting? Is it just for it's opaqueness? If so, couldn't I use a very small amount of glaze to my underpainting to keep it's general opaqueness but quicken the drying time? Wouldn't that work just as well?

Hi, FWinwood!

Sure, you can glaze colors you'll use on successive layers. However, that defeats the point of indirect painting.

Basically, one of the main benefits of indirect painting is that it separates composition from tonal values (light and dark) to color. It's like doing a monochromatic study in graphite and color it after. By mixing colors into what should be a monochromatic study, you're mixing color and value (working with both at the same time) again.

Another important aspect of indirect painting is that layers blend optically, producing subtle light effects. This is very useful when painting more complex subjects, such as skin tones, skies, and even soil.

Indirect layering also assures that, should a paint fade, it will do so gracefully. If one person's dress was originally brown and glazed with pink, and this pink fades, more of the brown color will show through, but it look like that brown was always part of the painting.

Finally, indirect painting (done correctly) gives more stability to your painting. If we are talking about oils, they tend to crack, and by using stable underlayers, the more fragile layers will "glue" to the stronger layers, and these fragile layers will be much less prone to show cracking.

Last edited by Mythrill : 10-06-2013 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 10-07-2013, 04:22 AM
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0chre 0chre is offline
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Re: Indirect Painting

A glaze doesn't fasten drying. It's not a medium as you said in the Landscapes forum. It's just a transparant layer of paint painted over dry paint. You can use quick drying pigments, like umbers, prussian blue, venetian red for your underpainting like I do. They usually dry within two, often even within one day, if painted very thinly.

The exact point of an underpainting is what you want from it. There are some options:

It can be used to form just a rough "guide", for the subsequent layer. In this case the subsequent layer will be the more dominant one, painted mainly with opaque colors.

An underpainting can also be used to establish the tonal arrangement of the final painting. In this case the underpainting will have a more substantial role in the final painting. Usually one paints over an underpainting like this with more transparant colors.

You can also use an underpainting to achieve various visual effects that cannot be created without it. If you, for example, use a yellow earth in your underpainting in areas that will be blue in your final painting, allowing the yellow to shine through the blue, the blue will appear more sparkly, more vivid. Or if you glaze a deep red over a bright red underpainting, the result will be a very intense color. Lately I've been using grayed versions of the final colors in my underpainting, to make the final colors shine more and to create interesting temperature variations.

You can use it to unify your colors. Some painters do this by toning the canvas in a very bright color they let shimmer through here and there.

There are, of course, combinations possible also. I use an underpainting for all four reasons, generally. This takes quite a bit of planning and you have to have a clear vision of what you want your painting to look like when finished, but to me that's well worth the effort. (It also decreases the possibility of failure, saving time in the long run.) I keep my underpaintings as transparant as possible, because this will give a lot of luminosity. I paint the lightest parts the most opaque. Other painters might use their underpainting in still different ways.

I recently did a post about underpainting, you may find informative.

Last edited by 0chre : 10-07-2013 at 04:27 AM.
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Old 10-07-2013, 05:06 AM
Mythrill Mythrill is offline
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Re: Indirect Painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0chre
The exact point of an underpainting is what you want from it. There are some options:

It can be used to form just a rough "guide", for the subsequent layer. In this case the subsequent layer will be the more dominant one, painted mainly with opaque colors.
[...]
I recently did a post about underpainting, you may find informative.

Hi, 0chre!

He wasn't specifically asking about glazing or underpaintings, but indirect painting styles. I assumed these would be grisaille, verdaccio, flemish, "brunaille" (doing an umber layer and adding color right after.) In all these styles, lights and darks are painted first.

Of course, if he actually just asked about glazing, which is an overpainting technique used in many styles, he can do as you said. Glazing alone, as you mentioned, will produce wonderful effects.

Last edited by Mythrill : 10-07-2013 at 05:15 AM.
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Old 10-07-2013, 07:47 AM
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Re: Indirect Painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mythrill
He wasn't specifically asking about glazing or underpaintings, but indirect painting styles. I assumed these would be grisaille, verdaccio, flemish, "brunaille"[...]
I wasn't either!
Indirect painting simply means that you don't finish your painting in one layer (as you do in direct painting, which is also called alla prima painting, or au premier coup, or wet-on-wet painting) and this can be done in various ways. An underpainting is just the first layer of the process. A glaze is just a more or less transparant overpainting. It doesn't have to involve grisailles, brunailles or verdaccios. Van Eyck, Rembrandt, Waterhouse, Gérôme and Rothko (to name a few) all painted indirectly, but their methods differ greatly.

Van Eyck used grayed versions of the final colors in his underpainting and painted over this in mostly one or two layers, increasing in transparancy. Rembrandt used a brunaille, over which he painted the halftones and lights (in general, he used and experimented with a lot of different techniques and methods). Waterhouse began with a very rough sketch which he refined in the following layers. Gérôme used local colors on a toned canvas and adjusted the colors in the subsequent layers. Rothko probably used a series of scumbles and glazes, but I haven't studies his technique, so I'm not 100% sure.

Grisaille, verdaccio en brunaille are all basically the same method, but with different colors (gray, greenish and brown). They are valid ways of painting, just as all ways of painting are valid if they produce the results you're after, but they aren't the only way of indirect painting.

Whenever I a see a question about painting in layers, I try to give information about the various possibilities, because many people seem to equate indirect painting to using a grisaille, verdaccio or brunaille and this limits a thorough and broad understanding of painting in layers. Painting is, IMO, not about following some kind of method, but about achieving the results and effects you're after. The more methods you know, the better you'll be able to achieve various results and effects and the richer your paintings will be.
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Old 10-07-2013, 08:47 AM
Mythrill Mythrill is offline
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Re: Indirect Painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0chre
I wasn't either!
Grisaille, verdaccio en brunaille are all basically the same method, but with different colors (gray, greenish and brown). They are valid ways of painting, just as all ways of painting are valid if they produce the results you're after, but they aren't the only way of indirect painting.

Sorry, but I must disagree. Verdaccio is simpler than the Flemish Method, with a minium of just two layers: the monochromatic green layer and the . It was mostly developed for portraits (although it can be used for other subjects, of course.) In Grisaille, you paint in shades of gray that are as perfectly neutral as possible. The Flemish Method has a similar stage, called "Dead Layer" – the main difference, though, is that neutralizing the umber layer with shades of gray doesn't need to be perfectly neutral, as it usually is in Grisaille, and this can give the picture a warm, brownish cast.

I completely agree with you about finding new methods of painting and choose what works best for you. However, what I can't agree with is that if you strictly follow Verdaccio Method, you will generate the same result compared to strictly following the Flemish Method (7-layer approach,) especially if you start the color layer (in the Flemish) by mixing all your colors, light and dark, with an umber pigment. If you just add color without mixing them with umbers, it's possible to get an optical result similar – or even identical – to traditional Grisaille, but the paint structure will be different.
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Old 10-07-2013, 10:14 AM
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Re: Indirect Painting

You're right that a grisaille, a verdaccio and a brunaille were traditionally used differently and will produce different end results. I should have chosen my words more carefully in the quoted part of my post. So this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by 0chre
Grisaille, verdaccio en brunaille are all basically the same method, but with different colors (gray, greenish and brown). They are valid ways of painting, just as all ways of painting are valid if they produce the results you're after, but they aren't the only way of indirect painting.
should be:
Quote:
Grisaille, verdaccio en brunaille are all basically the same way of underpainting, looking more or less the same, but with different colors (gray, greenish and brown). They are valid ways of underpainting, just as all ways of painting are valid if they produce the results you're after, but they aren't the only way of underpainting.
I'm sorry for the confusion.

Using a grisaille (or a verdaccio, or a brunaille) does not dictate what you should do next, because they are not methods but just forms of underpainting. You can use any of them and proceed as you see fit. You can put 10 layers of transparant glazes over your verdaccio and you can paint opaquely over your grisaille. One can gain much more from broadening one's view on painting and understanding why things work the way they work, that from following a method strictly, right?

About the so called Flemish Method that's being propagated on the internet (I've said this before on Wetcanvas and will probably say it again): it has very little to do with the actual way the old Flemish masters painted. The Flemish masters (like Van Eyck) made very careful underdrawings which they colored with grayed versions of the final colors. This was their grisaille. It wasn't done in a neutral gray and it wasn't painted over an umber layer. Over the grisaille they painted one or two layers, with the last layer being the most transparant to build up the colors to their wanted intensity. They did not use 7 layers. See here.

I hope this cleared up the mess I made!
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Old 10-07-2013, 11:06 AM
Mythrill Mythrill is offline
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Re: Indirect Painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0chre
Using a grisaille (or a verdaccio, or a brunaille) does not dictate what you should do next, because they are not methods but just forms of underpainting. You can use any of them and proceed as you see fit. You can put 10 layers of transparant glazes over your verdaccio and you can paint opaquely over your grisaille. One can gain much more from broadening one's view on painting and understanding why things work the way they work, that from following a method strictly, right?

0chre, you're right. Using any sort of underpainting does not dictate the method an artist should use. However, one can choose following a more strict method (using a grid, underpaintings, etc) or a more loose method (painting directly on canvas, without even sketching first.) Following different techniques strictly (or at least as strictly as possible) can also help someone to understand how to achieve different, subtle effects. But of course, following them or not is always up to the artist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0chre
About the so called Flemish Method that's being propagated on the internet (I've said this before on Wetcanvas and will probably say it again): it has very little to do with the actual way the old Flemish masters painted. The Flemish masters (like Van Eyck) made very careful underdrawings which they colored with grayed versions of the final colors. This was their grisaille.

Yes. This is a very controversial topic, and it's impossible to tell exactly how Flemish masters worked. The 7-layer approach is an interpretation. You can do a sketch in graphite, for instance, and skip the inking stage and go straight for the underpainting. Even back then, every artist deviated one way or another from traditional techniques. For instance, if you really want a painting in oil that's less prone to cracking, it would be better to use an oak panel, create an underpainting with egg tempera and paint over it. But how many wonderful artists followed exactly all these steps? Most of these artists would ignore egg tempera, and I'm sure quite a few must have used regular canvases.

Right now, for instance, I've applied drawn over coarse paper applied gesso over it, inked it, applied a light coat of gesso over it, applied an umber laer, and I'm applying a dead layer now. Even if all Flemish artists followed this 7-layer approach, I described previously I would still, myself, not be using this exact technique. I have adapted it to acrylics and paper. It's trying understanding the essence of certain techniques and adapting it to your work that's so interesting.

Last edited by Mythrill : 10-07-2013 at 11:14 AM.
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Old 10-07-2013, 01:43 PM
wal_t wal_t is offline
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Re: Indirect Painting

If you want to work with glazes over an underpainting and at the same time want the layers to be dry quickly: do a trial with acrylic paint where layers dry in a a couple of minutes instead of hours/days. Walter
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Old 10-08-2013, 06:03 AM
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Re: Indirect Painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mythrill
Yes. This is a very controversial topic, and it's impossible to tell exactly how Flemish masters worked. The 7-layer approach is an interpretation. You can do a sketch in graphite, for instance, and skip the inking stage and go straight for the underpainting. Even back then, every artist deviated one way or another from traditional techniques.
It's not really a controversial topic. There is enough scientific data to conclude that the Flemish masters did not paint like it is propagated in the 7-layer method. Of course you're right that not all Flemish painters would have used the exact same method, but since painting was a craft in those days and painters had to be a member of a guild with strict rules, we can be pretty certain that their methods didn't deviate too much. Most of the controversy comes from people not having enough knowledge and holding on to believes.
Quote:
It's trying understanding the essence of certain techniques and adapting it to your work that's so interesting.
I agree! And that's why I object to the propagation of the 7-layer method. Because it misses the essence of the techniques of the masters of the past by jumbling them together, making it hard to come to real understanding.

The 7-layer method is kind of a combination of the Flemish method (sort of), the way 16th century Venetian painters painted, mixed with some of Rembrandt's technique and is maybe inspired by some unfinished work by Ingres (I suspect). All these painters weren't artists in the modern sense of the word, but first of all crafstmen and businessmen (they had to make a living), so they painted in the most economical way they knew. The 7-layer method lacks this quality IMO and obscures the essence of painting in layers, because it makes things much more complicated than necessary. The reason that this method seems to be rather popular has more to do with the "propaganda" about it, than with its intrinsic merits.

To be clear, I'm not attacking you, your ideas or your methods (I hope I haven't given you that idea), because I genuinly feel everyone is absolutely free to paint exactly like he/she wants to. If it works for you, it works. Period. I also believe that the more knowledge you have, the more freedom of choice you have and the more you can learn and the better you'll become as a painter and the richer your paintings can be. I see, however, that the dominance of this 7-layer method on the internet limits the freedom of (beginning) painters and confuses their understanding of oil painting in layers. This is why I try to inform about the various possibilities of painting in layers and why I inform against this 7-layer method.

But we're digressing a bit...
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Old 10-08-2013, 07:52 AM
Mythrill Mythrill is offline
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Re: Indirect Painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0chre
It's not really a controversial topic. There is enough scientific data to conclude that the Flemish masters did not paint like it is propagated in the 7-layer method. The 7-layer method is kind of a combination of the Flemish method (sort of), the way 16th century Venetian painters painted, mixed with some of Rembrandt's technique and is maybe inspired by some unfinished work by Ingres (I suspect).

Can you please refer me to a scientific source about how they painted and when the 7-layer technique was developed? I'm curious about it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0chre
I see, however, that the dominance of this 7-layer method on the internet limits the freedom of (beginning) painters and confuses their understanding of oil painting in layers. This is why I try to inform about the various possibilities of painting in layers and why I inform against this 7-layer method.

0chre, I too believe painters are free to paint the way they want. Bob Ross painted beautifully wet-on-wet, and the artists of impressionism were outstanding, specially they used pointillism to depict light.

What I do believe that is essential if we want to become a better painters, however, is to try to understand more about perspective, composition, light and dark (to make your art dynamic,) and understanding light sources within a composition to make your painting harmonious. This would apply no matter if you're a commercial illustrator, a manga artist, or a classical painter.

Anyway, FWinwood, can you tell us what exactly you want to know about indirect painting?

Last edited by Mythrill : 10-08-2013 at 07:55 AM.
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Old 10-08-2013, 09:13 AM
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Re: Indirect Painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mythrill
Can you please refer me to a scientific source about how they painted and when the 7-layer technique was developed? I'm curious about it.
I don't have an online source, but in this thread you can find information about the way Van Eyck (and Rembrandt) painted. The information is a summary from a reader I have from when I studied art history at Leiden University (The Netherlands). I have little information about the source of the 7-layer method. I've never come across any scientific information about painting methods that speaks about anything like the 7-layer method, nor have I ever com across other sources older than Alexei Antonov's information. I think it's safe to say its origin can be traced back to Alexei Antonov (making it a very recent "invention"), although he based it on the working methods of past painters like I mentioned in my previous post.

Quote:
What I do believe that is essential if we want to become a better painters, however, is to try to understand more about perspective, composition, light and dark (to make your art dynamic,) and understanding light sources within a composition to make your painting harmonious. This would apply no matter if you're a commercial illustrator, a manga artist, or a classical painter.
I couldn't agree more!
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Old 10-08-2013, 11:34 AM
FWinwood FWinwood is offline
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Re: Indirect Painting

Hi, thanks for all the post's.

Mythrill - I want to know whether an underpaint is important or an absolute necessity for creating strong light effects, like there is in a Turner painting for example. This was my reason for the thread I think.
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Old 10-08-2013, 01:38 PM
Mythrill Mythrill is offline
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Re: Indirect Painting

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Originally Posted by FWinwood
Hi, thanks for all the post's.

Mythrill - I want to know whether an underpaint is important or an absolute necessity for creating strong light effects, like there is in a Turner painting for example. This was my reason for the thread I think.

Hi, FWinwood!

No, you don't need an underpainting to create strong, beautiful light effects. But truth be told, it does help! By blending layers, you'll be able to make light and clouds smoother, for example. In my opinion, underpaintings are only essential when you want realistic light effects.

Last edited by Mythrill : 10-08-2013 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 10-08-2013, 02:12 PM
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Re: Indirect Painting

Quote:
Originally Posted by FWinwood
I want to know whether an underpaint is important or an absolute necessity for creating strong light effects, like there is in a Turner painting for example. This was my reason for the thread I think.
Glad you could join us!

You don't need to use an underpainting as Mythrill said and it can be helpful, indeed. Painting strong light effects is all about the right values and right colors. If these are off, it doesn't really matter if you use an underpainting or not. But if you get them right, an underpainting could give you a little extra. I would, in this case, use an underpainting of grayed versions (less saturated) of the final colors and somewhat(!) darker in value. I would paint over this with opaque paints without covering the underpainting completely. If you leave little "holes" in your overpainting, or create "scratches" by painting it with a stiff bristle brush, your eye will see some duller and darker colors to compare the bright colors with, making them appear brighter and more saturated. The same, but less subtle, effect could be achieved by toning your canvas with a dull grayish midtone. This could be done by coloring your (acrylic) gesso with acrylics, to save time.

Last edited by 0chre : 10-08-2013 at 02:14 PM.
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