Background Information

I’ve been trying to understand the concept of underpainting.  From what I understand, underpainting is like an outline for lighting. Showing the elements of light is what turns a two dimensional image into a three dimensional image. Underpainting is usually done by varying the tone of a single color/ pigment. In this experiment, I used black and white, to create the largest contrast and the boldest effect. I’m still learning how to work with light, so the boldest effect is easiest to see. I imagine that all of this will become second nature over time.


To practice the concept of underpainting I added shadow figures into these three pieces. The backgrounds to these paintings were previously painted and are unrelated. I generally practice new techniques on canvas which I would otherwise paint over anyway.


My favorite image is the green one in the center one with the tall figure, however I don’t consider any of this images finished work. They will likely still end up getting recycled and used for future projects. The goal of this experiment was to practice the concept of underpainting a figure. Ideally I should finish this experiment by painting the next layer over the black and white figures, but I’m not going to.

My Perspective On Finishing Art

Sometimes there’s work I know I won’t finish. Instead of getting hung up on it, I’m learning to accept it and move on. Not every work of art is worth completing. Finding a balance between giving up on a painting and pushing through a tough phase is key. I’m sure every artist has there own thing they get hung up on.  I usually get stuck when desireble elements are embedded within into an ugly painting. Sometimes I know how I would like to change the painting, but the effort to undo it’s ugliness isn’t always worth it.  It’s much easier for me to start a new painting. Now that I’m more familiar with my strengths and weaknesses, I trust that I can replicate the desirable elements. I’m no longer afraid to let go of an ugly painting.

I let my “to be painted over” paintings sit for a few months before painting over them. During this time, I bring them back out to try more experimental things. If something happens that I like, the painting is removed from the “to be painted over” pile. At least half of my “to be painted over” paintings get finished in this way.  We will have to see what happens to this bunch! Only time will tell, I’ll post the journey these canvas take over the next few months… you never know what will happen!

Related Painting

FacerSpace? -3
SPACERFACE , 16″ x 20″, acrylic on canvas