Underpainting Stephanie Dyrby
Underpainting – Stephanie Dyrby

Underpainting is an essential step in the oil painting process that is often overlooked, but it can greatly improve the overall look and quality of your final piece. The underpainting provides a solid foundation for your painting. It helps to establish the composition, values, and overall mood of the piece. By laying down a base layer of paint, you can better visualize the final product and make any necessary adjustments before committing to the final layers.

As an artist, you know that the journey to creating a beautiful oil painting is long and complex. It requires careful planning, attention to detail, and a willingness to experiment and make mistakes. One technique that can greatly improve the quality and impact of your oil paintings is underpainting.

Underpainting is a crucial step in the oil painting process that is often overlooked by beginners and even some experienced painters. In this blog post, we’ll explore the importance of underpainting and how it can improve the overall quality of your oil paintings.

First, let’s define underpainting. Simply put, it is the base layer of paint applied to a canvas before the actual painting begins. This layer serves as a foundation for the rest of the painting and can greatly impact the final result. When I paint my underpainting, I usually use 3-5 different earthly tones to create a rough composition on the canvas.

The videos down below showcases the underpainting ⤵ I love this part of the painting process, since it goes really fast compared to the rest of the upper layers. 

Underpainting video - Stephanie Dyrby
Let’s look at some of the benefits of including the underpainting in the painting process:

    🖤 Establishes a cohesive base for your painting

An underpainting helps to unify the various elements of your painting by establishing a common ground for all the colors to build upon. Without an underpainting, your colors may look disjointed and unrelated to one another. Think about it this way: underpainting is like a rough draft in the writing process. It’s a chance for you to get all of your ideas down on canvas and make any necessary adjustments before committing to the final product. And just like a rough draft, it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, it’s supposed to be rough!

    🖤 Helps to create a sense of depth and dimension

Underpainting can be used to add depth and dimension to your painting. By layering different tones and hues, you can create a sense of volume and form within your work. By using different shades and values in the underpainting, you can create the illusion of light and shadow, which adds dimension and makes your painting more lifelike. This can be especially useful when working with portraits or still lifes, as it allows you to build up the form of the subjects and create a more realistic representation.

    🖤 Allows for easier corrections and adjustments

Have you ever started a painting and wished you could just hit the undo button and start over? Yeah, we’ve all been there. If you had taken the time to do an underpainting before starting the final layers, you could have avoided this problem altogether. By laying down a base layer of paint, you would have been able to better visualize the final product and make any necessary adjustments before committing to the final layers. This not only saves time and frustration, but it also helps to create a more cohesive and successful final painting.

    🖤 Enhances the vibrancy of your final colors

An underpainting can actually make your final colors appear more vibrant and luminous. This is because the underpainting helps to create a more uniform surface for the final layers of paint to adhere to, which allows the colors to pop.

    🖤 Can add an extra layer of interest to your painting

An underpainting doesn’t have to be a dull, monochromatic layer. You can get creative with your underpainting and use it to add an extra layer of interest to your painting. For example, you could use an underpainting of complementary colors (colors opposite each other on the color wheel) to create a sense of tension and drama in your painting.

In conclusion, underpainting is a powerful tool that can greatly improve the quality and impact of your oil paintings. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, incorporating underpainting into your process can help you create more cohesive, dynamic, and vibrant paintings. So the next time you sit down to create an oil painting, consider giving underpainting a try – it may take a little extra time upfront, but it will pay off in the end with a stronger and more visually appealing painting.

3 thoughts on “Underpainting: The Secret Weapon of Master Oil Painters

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is the perfect blog for anybody who would like to find out about underpainting.
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    You definitely put a new spin on a subject that’s been written about for years.
    Great stuff, just excellent!

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