Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Loose values

In progress: soda bottle and chinese plate

Today's effort was doing the underpainting for another one of those ridiculously complex paintings I mentioned yesterday. This one is an antique soda bottle in front of a highly detailed chinese plate, both resting on a floral print cloth.

While working, I did find myself thinking about the nature of underpaintings. I do find them necessary for the way I work, but I'm also wondering how good they have to be. Being sort of a perfectionist (at least in the studio), my first impulse is to do an absolutely flawless underpainting that reflects the gradations in value 100%, etc, etc, etc.

Not so fast.

The underpaintings exist to give body to areas painted with transparent pigments, and also to provide a map, a guide for the final painting. From this perspective, grisailles do have to capture shape and probably volume with high accuracy. It's likely, however, that a rough approximation of value will suffice.

So with this underpainting, I was a lot looser with value while staying true to design. It certainly made the work go faster; I'll be curious to see what happens when I get to the final painting stage.


Katherine said...

I am nearly finished my underpainting of the waterlily, and I was also wondering how important the actual tone was... I have never done underpaintings before, so this post was perfect timing!

Jeff Hayes said...

Yeah Katherine, I think there's good reason why most paintings were made this way before the 19th century or so. No question it's a lot harder, but for me, it's well worth the effort.