What Lies Beneath
// Muddy Colors
So why bother with an underpainting? Painting an underpainting takes a lot longer than getting right into the full painting and so it can feel like an overly laborious and redundant step. But while it does tend to take longer, it offers the advantage of allowing you to concentrate on value and color independently of one another, so you can devote their full attention to each in turn.
Underpaintings also allow the artist to take advantage of one of the curious properties of oil painting: That each layer glazed onto the surface adds greater depth and translucency to the surface of the image. This has the affect of making things like skin, look like, well, skin. Making this a wonderful;y useful technique for portraiture.
It can be intimidating to add color once you've finished an underpainting. You have to take a pristine monochrome that could almost be a framed finished painting on its own, and now you have to deface it with bold strokes of color. It can initially be very intimidating.
Thankfully in oil you can simply start splashing color on, and if it looks wrong, you can wipe it out, without affecting your underpainting. This means that you can be very bold with initial choices.
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