Friday, September 12, 2008

Underpainting - Burnt Sienna + White

I've been finishing up a few illustrations to round out my new book, Backpacker Painting: Outdoors with Oil & Pastel. One approach I wanted to illustrate was underpainting with a mixture of Burnt Sienna and white. Typically, painters may use just Burnt Sienna, thinned as needed, to block in the major value shapes in the underpainting stage. This certainly is the most economical route since it doesn't involve any other paint. But by adding white, it's possible to lessen the impact of the Burnt Sienna on the following layers. (I'm talking exclusively about painting wet-into-wet.) Burnt Sienna alone can lend a somewhat gaudy orangish cast to the finished piece. The addition of white, however, dulls the Burnt Sienna a bit, effectively diluting it. Using white also allows you to pre-mix your values, giving you more control over them.

I first mixed up four different values, using Burnt Sienna and Titanium-Zinc White. The final pile is just straight Burnt Sienna.

Next, I used these four piles to create my underpainting.


Finally, I finished off the painting with true color, adjusting values as needed. Besides Burnt Sienna and white, I also used Cadmium Yellow Light and Ultramarine Blue. The painting has a very warm feeling, so I added some areas of pure Ultramarine Blue or tints of it to add areas of relative coolness.

"Spruce Point, Low Tide" 8x10, oil, en plein air
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