You see there is one thing many artists forget, or don't even know about. And that is to make a "grisaille". This is a painting under the painting. Often done in grey or in brown.


Now why would you go through all this trouble of making a painting first in brown, and then doing the painting all over in color on top of it? The reason is that by doing so you can have much more control over what happens in your painting.





There are several aspects to a painting or any piece of visual art. For example, the use of colour, composition of the image, use of space, line, form, and last but not least: tonal values. This makes up the use of lights and dark.


Now the problem is that when you just start a painting with "all" colours at your disposal, tonal values tend to be hard to see. The reason is that colours are flashy. You can for example be working with strong reds or greens, but in terms of tonal values you are completely working in the middle of the tonal spectrum. So you are not using tonal values optimally and the painting will lack contrast. 


So what I see often is "flashy" colored paintings with very little contrast. This is exactly what we don't want! So my suggestion would be for you to study the grisaille. See how old masters like Chardin*, Rubens, Rembrandt and many others, used this technique and how they set up their paintings and got their marvelous results.


* The image is a reproduction I did of the painting 'the silver goblet' by Siméon Chardin (1699-1779), a French painter.



Written by Christiaan, 2022-05-27