Several folks have asked about the technique I use to do a underpainting with acrylics for an oil pastel painting, here is my process.
I don’t always use underpaintings with my paintings, but if I do here are some several reasons:
- If a scene is complex perhaps it would make sense to establish a base of value ranges (usually 5 ranges) - in this case the underpainting will be black and white acrylic. An artist friend recommended this method once and I love what it has done for my paintings.
- Or, if the scene is to have a dark undertone the surface is prepared with a black and white acrylic underpainting.
- If a scene has a certain range of colors or is a setting with a lighter atmosphere, a underpainting with colored acrylic paints in local color, use compliments, or apply as a solid color to give a warm undertone. Again it allows for value ranges in color.
- Painting surface must be able to take a wet application: hardboard, watercolor paper, Wallis/U-Art papers, etc. First step if using harboard, is to sand paper the smooth-side of the hardboard and apply a coat of Gesso to front, back and sides (this seals the board). Watercolor paper doesn’t need this step.
- Lightly sketch out the scene on the surface.
- Paint the underpainting using acrylic paints – black and white, or colors (by use as noted above). The acrylic is applied with a brush and with mostly loose strokes.
- Apply two coats of “Clear Gesso” whether the surface is hardboard or watercolor paper. Two coats give a real nice texture because Clear Gesso contains sandy grit allowing the oil pastels something to grab when laying/spreading the paint.
What follows are two examples of paintings done with a black/white acrylic underpainting and one done with colored acrylic underpainting (sorry for the order of images – tried but couldn’t get Virginia Beach to line up next to the underpainting of the scene).