Oil-Based Pigments, Continued
The four ways of painting in oil paints are referred to as underpainting,
overpainting, alla prima painting, and improvised painting.
Underpainting is the technique of painting multiple thin coats of paint before
painting (overpainting) the final layer of paint. Oil paints used for
underpainting should contain less oil than paint used for top layers.
Underpainting may be classified as toned ground, grisaille, underpainting in
light color, underpainting in dark color, and underpainting in contrasting
TONED GROUND: Underpainting a toned ground in a middle-toned value
is simply painting a colored canvas.
GRISAILLE: Underpainting in grey or a mottled grey is called grisaille and
is most often used as a background in portraiture.
UNDERPAINTING IN LIGHT COLOR: Use light color as a base coat and
accent with a purer or dark color to produce luminous effects.
UNDERPAINTING IN DARK COLOR: Use dark color as a foundation
when you intend to apply a lighter color for effect.
UNDERPAINTING IN CONTRASTING COLOR: To underpaint in
contrasting colors is to first paint a layer of chosen pigment and apply a
contrasting color over it. This technique enhances the impact of colors, but
is difficult to control.
Overpainting is the technique of painting the final layers of paint. Stumbling
and glazing are overpainting techniques.
SCUMBLING: Stumbling is a form of overpainting that requires a light oil
paint reduced to a translucent pigment. The translucent pigment is then
painted over an already dark painted layer of underpainting. The more
contrast in tonal value between the two layers, the more dramatic the effect.
GLAZING: Glazing is the opposite of scumbling, although it also requires
reducing oil paint to a transparent pigment. You apply a dark pigment over
a layer of light underpainting to leave a transparent film.
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