Monday, February 16, 2009

Underpainting--yeah, really, painting, not coloring

Today marked a bit of a departure from normal workaday painting. I left my oil pastels alone and pulled out my oils. I did a variety of building-less underpaintings on gesso board and am really quite pleased. They are remarkably dissimilar to my oil pastel work and wonder if they will remain that way once I add the color layers. And, of course, I need to decide what color layers I need to add--oils or oil pastels? My answer tomorrow when I actually decide. Although the pieces I worked on today were quite small--6 by 6, 8 by 8 and 12 by 12, I'm thinking this process would work quite well way larger--I mean WAY larger--bigger than any panels I actually have.

The way I did these was to brush on the color and then use rags to wipe off down to the white gesso. I also use my color shapers to wipe back more color---they get closer to the white but leave little burnt sienna blobs at the end of a stroke which then need to be removed--great for lines, though, and super-highlights. I do sometimes need to add more color to get the darker tones again. So, I guess it isn't really painting but wiping. Rats, here I thought I was doing something like a real artist!

I suppose I'll work up to a really large size but maybe I should call ampersand and order some big panels and then we can pick them up while we're in Texas this spring. It would save on shipping.

Maybe this deserves a side note, ampersand art panels are built/made in Austin, TX. I love the gessoed texture and they come in a vast variety of sizes and depths. You can buy them as flat sheets, 3/4 inch cradles or 2 inch cradles. The cradled ones don't need a frame although you can certainly use one if you want. is their web site. And, to top it all off, if you want something that is not in stock, they'll build it for you. And not gouge you with the price. They'll make things up to around 42 by 90 inches (at five feet one and three quarters inches, I'd definitely have to work horizontally, or else get a ladder!) So, my hats off to ampersand. They have a great product. I don't usually deal direct--jerry's artarama, dick blick and artist supply warehouse all carry the panels.

I met another artist at a show a couple of summers ago and he said he always sanded down the edges of the panels when they were cradled. That way if it got dinged a slight bit, it wouldn't be noticeable. I now always sand the edges with an orbital sander for the same reason. And always sand before you paint--I learned the hard way!! I sanded a bunch more panels this afternoon so I'd have some more panels to do underpaintings on. I think tomorrow I should work on some some structures. I'll let you know how things turn out!

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