Thursday, August 7, 2008

Wipe Out

Discovery Park oil on canvas 11 x 12

I love to work in warm hues. It is an addiction, a habit, or maybe an obsession...I don't quite know where it comes from... almost every painting I do begins with an under-painting of some sort of warm reddish color. The red often peaks through the added top layers of color, creating areas that seem to glow while creating a unity in my work with out even thinking too much about it!

The process of under-painting for me is one of my most favorite moments with a brush and rag in hand. I use a wipe out method - literally slathering the surface of the canvas or board with color and wiping back the white areas of the canvas where I want to reveal the lighter values in a painting. I can accomplish several important things in the early stages of a painting this way:

1. Tone my canvas
2. Establish my Compostion
3. Play with Value (light and dark)
4. Find a balance between hard vs soft edges
5. Get familiar with my subject matter before introducing color.

I am a firm believer that besides being able to accurately draw your subject matter, composition and value are the back bone to a successful painting. Color is just the icing on the cake. Under-painting is a great way to work out these elements. And for those that are afraid of color (like me!), it is an amazing way to empower yourself to paint with out fear!!! 

Way back when I was in school I discovered a paint mixture that I still use today to do all my under-paintings. I call it Saparindian! It is a mixture of Daniel Smith brand Sap Green, Permanent Alizarin Crimson, and Indian Yellow. It is the most beautiful transparent rusty red I have ever found. Sure you can buy transparent red oxide or something close at the art store, BUT what is the fun in that!? Mixing my own allows me the freedom to play with the formula... I can make it browner or redder, or even yellower, depending on my subject matter! I mix up a whole bunch and tube it myself for later use... Which makes me think... if want to have one to try, I can make one for you, just email me. Even though I just gave away my secret formula... sigh... I just really like to share...

I often will do a painting like the one above, and fall in love with the soft glowing quality so much that I will not paint on top of it as originally intended. This one is complete. No color needed. It says what I needed it to say, all with one color (or three depending on how you look at it!)

Happy Painting!


Arco Scheepen said...

That's almost exactly how I almost always start my paintings. Only difference is that I use a raw Sienna by Talens (Rembrandt series).
I completely agree that when you've done an underpainting like this, it hardly needs anything else.
I also so understand the 'afraid of color' statement. I have that too. I love paintings with bold colors, but I find it very hard to do myself...

Nina Aidas said...

Wow, thanks for sharing! I always love to learn how other artists work so its interesting to read these descriptions of the process.

Actually I didn´t realize you used an underpainting but now I can see that you do. Such a smart way of trying out compositions! I really have to go straight and try that.

Love the Discovery Park painting. It looks really hazy and serene, almost like an out of focus photograph with an old camera. Reminds me of the works of Sally Mann.

But about your own paint mixture.. how can you tube it yourself!?

Jennifer Phillips said...

Thanks for your comments you guys...

There was a period not too long ago when I was almost not painting at all - mostly due to the fear of color. It stopped me in my tracks until I finally was able to take control of my palette! I use a limited palette now a days... and ironically can mix any color from it. Maybe that will be the subject of my next post...hmmmmm.

Nina, thanks for visiting my blog - I'm spoiled. I can buy the empty tubes from a local art store (5 minutes away from my house) and fill them at home. In fact, I will talk about it more in one of my next posts so I can provide the link for the materials... Thanks for your question and feedback!

michaelle / park city said...

This is really great to know - and inspiring - thanks for sharing! I'm in the Caribbean now, wanting to do some paintings, but since it's new to me, I've had 'painters block' - but this gives me a place to start. I have a cheapy set of acrylics, as it's nearly impossible to get materials here in 2.8 world :-) I have some sail canvas scraps from the sail loft which should be fun to experiment with, stitches and all. Yay! I'm finally excited to get started! Thank you! LOVE your work girl - oh, btw, which blog service do you use for your site design? It looks really nice!

Jennifer Phillips said...

Thanks Michaelle! SO jealous of your location right now! I need a vacation! Hope you have opened a tube or two since you last posted here... You can achieve a similar "wipe out" technique with acrylics too, but you may need to keep a spray bottle of water near by if you are in a warm climate. Acrylics dry real fast in a thinner application such as this one. I might also suggest just using 2 colors like blue and white or red and white to achieve a value under painting on canvas. Eliminating all the color choices sometimes helps to get started - you can always add color on top later, especially with acrylics! Doing the value study first is a great way to get your lights and darks correct before moving onto color.
Good luck! And happy painting!