Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Shell, Leaf & Pitcher Grisaille

Grisaille - Oil on Panel - 8x10"
 This is the first oil pass of the grisaille for a piece I am working on.  The original drawing can be viewed at   For this painting I transferred the drawing onto the panel using an oil transfer (I will blog about how to do this in the near future).

Once the transfer was dry, I did a light burnt umber layer to workout the main values, unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of this step. Next time ;)

When the burnt umber layer was completely dry, I used my pre-mixed oil paints from a value of 2 to 9 (2 darkest value, 9 near white value)  At this stage I focused on trying to really correctly record the tilts and angles of my subjects from my still life set up.  Working from life is more challenging than working from a photo but so much more fulfilling as there is just so much more information about the form to work from.

The paint is applied very thinly with little to no medium.  When I do use the medium (Lean Medium - 1 part Odorless Mineral Spirits mixed with 2 parts Refined Linseed Oil) I just dip the tip of  my brush in the medium and wipe off the excess on a rag.  The medium is not necessary at this stage, you could just use straight paint very thinly or if you don't like solvents yet want a bit more buttery paint, a non-toxic medium like Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel medium can be used very thinly with the paint.

Although it is not necessary, I will likely do a second pass using only the gray values to further refine the form before moving onto the first color pass.  I find the more "correct" I can get each pass, the easier the next pass is and if I can get the painting fairly resolved before adding color, the more I can really focus on color and all it's challenges.

If you are interested in learning this technique I am offering a class starting Jan 19, 2015.  For more information and to register visit

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