Gesso Underpainting

Gesso underpainting

Occasionally, I will use black and white gesso to create the under painting of an artwork. The problem with doing so, however is that the black gesso tends to fade into a lighter gray if you do not paint over it immediately, or within a few days. So if you plan on doing this, make sure that you will be painting over it with oil or acrylic paint within the next day or so, otherwise you just get a chalky picture. 

At this moment, the underpainting above was finished a few minutes ago, but unfortunately I still have not decided whether or not I want it to be an oil or acrylic painting, and really do not know what the colors I want either. This is not the best way to design a picture, but sometimes you just want sit behind an easel and paint, and see what comes of it.

As you will notice the underpainting is not perfectly rendered, it doesn’t have to be, as long as the bones are close to where you want it, you are going to paint over the underpainting anyways. It’s basically a guide. I wanted to establish the brightest whites and the darkest darks, because it helps make the painting sing. Yes, there are times where you want the underpainting to be absolutely perfect, but in this case, it is just going to be a pretty picture. 

There are many rules in painting, but nobody is going to get hurt if you throw caution to the wind when it comes to experimenting on canvas.

If you are curious, the materials I’m using are Liquitex black and white gessoes, Fredrix canvas pad with low tack masking on a gesso board in a Guerrilla Paint box easel, mason jar, Dick Blick disposable palette (because cleaning artist’s palettes is a huge no fun chore) and some Simply Simmons brush rounds.