Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ugly underpainting

My underpaintings sometimes are plain ugly. Some of you may have had this experience. You start working on a painting and when the first layer is done, you look at the thing and you think: this is never going to work. I'm the worst painter ever. The colors are pale, the surfaces not as smooth as you want them to be and the transitions are off.

Through the years I found out that it's hard to avoid this. Especially with the layering technique I use.  Here's an example:

Sunset, 50 x 150 cm, oil on panel, underpainting

Not very promising, huh? 
In the following layers I slowly built up the colors to the level of saturation I wanted. Because I use quite a lot of medium it took a few layers to get there. This is how it turned out:

Sunset, 50 x 150 cm, oil on panel, finished state

Check out my website for a bigger picture:

As you can see the initial color of the sea in the underpainting was quite dark. I added the lighter accents in the next layers. This sometimes works better than the other way around.

Sunset, detail

Anyway, if you sometimes get the feeling that there's a wide gap between what you had in mind and the present state of your painting, remember that's how it's supposed to be. Just keep going and somewhere along the line things will take a turn for the better.