I think I’m going to stop talking about underpaintings. It’s a most misunderstood term. Everyone talks about underpaintings and of course, normally, no-one really wants to do them. Let’s cut to the chase: it’s bad enough going though all the rigmarole of preparation, without yet another preparatory step. For many, it’s never mind the @#$%?? underpainting, I’m going to….. PAINT!
The underpainting is where much of my art is and then finishing is often the more routine stage. The underpainting is where I establish the composition, work though the value equations and evolve my ideas. It’s where I often have that Eureka! moment, when the painting starts talking to me and I learn where it’s taking me. I’m known as a bit of a colourist, but I actually evolve the image in a very limited palette, applying colour on already established values. It’s difficult to deal with colour and value at the same time and adding colour is never a substitute for a lack in the value department.
So I need better terminology. Terminology that conveys a sense that this is where the action is, where major battles are won or lost. Perhaps I’ll start talking about “foundation-painting” and “overpainting”.
We painters all slave away for future credit. So, no matter what it’s called, spend a little more time on the foundations and your paintings will take care of themselves!