Saturday, March 23, 2013

112 Full value, full color underpainting

I have talked about doing an underpainting in other posts. Some have written and asked why do a full value, full color underpainting when so many painters recommend doing only a monochromatic underpainting? My answer is if a monochromatic underpainting works for you go for it. It simply doesn't work for me. I find it difficult and uninspiring to match values to a warm monochromatic layer of paint (using a gray underpainting doesn't seem to help either).

Full value, full color underpainting from Brad Teare on Vimeo.

In the video my underpainting looks more finished than it actually is. The color is actually very thin and blotchy. I try not to impart any virtuosity to the surface of my underpaintings  It is simply a record of color and value. In fact it is best if the surface is imperfect because it gives me an incentive to cover it up. I do try to keep the underpainting thin so the ensuing layers of paint do not show the texture of the dried pigment beneath. If I do have any visible texture I scrape it off with my sharpened ceramics tool before I paint over the top.

I keep my oiling up medium quite thick. I add burnt plate oil #8, and Gamblin G-gel. Lately I've been adding a reddish purple pigment which increases the viscosity and imparts a subtle and harmonizing hue to the ensuing layers of paint.

Let me know if it works for you.

Brad Teare- March 2013


  1. Hi Brad:

    Fantastic post and video! Frankly, I think this painting is just out of the park! Great job!

    I have done the monochromatic underpainting a la Richard Schmid with Transparent Red Oxide. It takes getting used to, but it is impressive as a technique and helps you understand how little color it takes to bring a painting to life.

    But as far as I'm concerned, I see no issues at all with going a full color underpainting. I think I'll have to give that a try myself.

    I've never heard of plate oil before. That's a new one. Mind sharing the brand or info on it? I'd like to check that out.

    Your painting here is fantastic! I love your treatment of the clouds, warm foreground, cool sky, and the treatment of the shapes. You've got a good design here that makes me miss the southwest!


  2. Thanks Robert. I added links to the plate oil as well as g-gel and the purple I generally use (although I use a wide variety of weak purples). I love the way Richard Schmid has bits of red poking out from his loose brush marks. It just doesn't work that well for me especially on a complex scene like red rocks. I appreciate the feedback!

  3. Brad--my first teacher taught us to do full-color underpaintings and I had gotten away from it in the last few years after painting with all prima painters. But lately I have found myself going back to it. I find it helps a lot with composition from the beginning. and I think the painting just goes together better for me. I love your painting. Thanks for posting. I'm working on a series of paintings of the Palo Duro Canyon near Canyon, Texas. I too have been using Gamblin's transparent colors. Looking forward to trying your gel mixture.

    Thanks for your advice and time!

  4. You are very welcome, Marsha. The Gamblin Transparent Earths are all wonderful. My favorite is yellow but red and orange are awesome, too because they are all so dark out of the tube.

    Doing the full value, full color underpainting allows you to really tweak every aspect of the painting. It can be time consuming but is usually well worth it. Thanks for dropping by!

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  6. Hey Brad, I really enjoyed your video and watching you work...very exciting...I'm always oiling out my paintings and trying new mediums.. lately I've been using calcium carbonate powder with stand oil and spike oil and I'm going to try the oil of rosemary..thanks! CheersPaul

  7. Thank you for sharing this interesting and informative article, painting with airless spray gun will be faster and more interesting!

  8. Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon. Big thanks for the useful info.


Thanks for your comments!


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