Bistre, Grisaille and Verdaccio are all techniques that were used by the Old Masters like Titian, Rembrandt, Caravaggio and other to create a traditional underpainting.
What is Under Painting
Underpainting gets its name because it is painting that is intended to be painted over wet-in-wet glazes with very thin layers of color.
It makes it easier for the artist to focus on the correct form, composition, brushwork and tonal values without getting confused with to may color choices on their palette. If you only have one color to choose from, it makes your choices so much simpler and you can focus on what you really need to do.
There is a popular misconception that underpainting should be monochromatic, perhaps in gray-scales. This technique was pioneered by Titian in the High Renaissance. The colors of the underpainting will influence the glazes or overpainting, without the danger of the colors physically blending and becoming muddy. If underpainting is done properly, it facilitates overpainting.
- Underpainting makes it far easier to model with a few neutral tones than with more complex color mixtures.
- Vermeer generally used black and brown in his underpainting. (Bistre)
- Rembrandt and Rubens, in particular, are known to have used underpainting very effectively.
A shade of brown made from soot, or the name for a color resembling the brownish pigment. Bistre’s is a transparent, dark brown with yellow undertones.
- Faking is: We fake the color by combining Paynes Grey with Yellow Ochre
Vermeer generally used black and brown in his underpainting. (Bistre) It is believed that artists once kept a number of under paintings in their studio waiting for clients’ interest before completing the painting with full color and detail.
Traditionally, grisaille drawing and painting from plaster casts were done as the basis of classical art training, as the technique allowed the artist to concentrate on accurate rendering of form, without the distraction of color. Many Grisailles, in fact, include a slightly wider color range from gray-green to gray-blue usually beginning with a dark surface and using white paint to build highlights and model the subject, the painter begins with thin paint as the foundation of the work. Once dry, the painting is then layered with glazes of color, to create a rich and luminous final surface.
- Faking is: We fake the color with Paynes Grey
Verdacchio was composed of yellow ocher, a bit of black, white and a hint of red (cinabrese).
- Faking is: We fake the color with Paynes Grey + Burnt Sienna
You Need to Do It to Develop Contrast and Values Before Color
Underpainting helps to simplify your dark and light values and simplifies the painting process.
If underpainting is done properly, it facilitates overpainting. Most people struggle to distinguish between colors do not know which color to pick. The variety of colors available can confuse us. It is much easier to simplify your painting to Highlights, Mid Tones and Base Tones through using the underpainting technique and THEN was or glaze your colors over the underpainting