Repost: Underlayers in Painting

We've been discussing underlayers in painting over at the Maida Dolls Group, so I thought I would repost this. The original underpainted color was orange in the painting above.

Robert Henri said that artist always paints from memory, even when the subject is directly in front of the artist. This is true, because we are always editing with our eyes, even when we think we are looking at something objectively.

I painted this painting about 5 years ago. I enjoy experimenting with underpainting. What happens if you prime a canvas in a rich color before you begin painting and let some of that show through? The beauty of acrylic paints is you can lay down a wash, go have lunch, then come back and lay down another layer. No waiting days for the first layer to dry. When I painted with oils I always used a lot of turpentine in the paint to speed up the drying time. I started using acrylic paints when I had kids and it was very hard at first - the blending capability isn't as great. But the opportunity to scratch into the paint and reveal under layers is maximized. In some senses this is two paintings - the top and bottom aren't as related as they could be. But I like the way the orange lines come through in the blue above the cloud.


Linda Packard said...

Dixie, when I work in oils I frequently underpaint the panel or canvas with acrylic first, often in a bright color like cad orange or magenta. I let some of that show through by applying the oils thin in places, or by scraping into the oil, so it can work especially working the oils wet on wet. I also love to reclaim used panel or canvas and paint a new painting on top, utilizing marks and colors already there as an underpainting (I think we talked about this someplace already). Love this painting of yours!

Linda Packard said...

Meant to ask you Dixie, are all these paintings here acrylic? I ask because of the beautiful luminosity you've achieved. I've not been able to get the hang of painting with acrylic but you sure have!

Dixie Redmond said...

Hi, Linda - yes, they're all acrylic. I had to learn to paint in a totally different way. I miss the blendability and buttery-ness of oils, no doubt about it. I've found that I have to use acrylics in a way that is more like watercolors....thin it down, let it dry and use layering rather than alla prima painting. Every medium has its gifts, and it takes work to find them, doesn't it. I really would like to take your print-making class. I'm saving my pennies. Monoprint making is one of my favorite ways to make art.

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden