This summer I am taking an oil painting class at Space 301 Gallery, taught by Kimberly Krause, a fine young artist and friend here in Mobile. She is sharing with us a painting technique she learned from Benjamin Shamback using a grisaille and glazing methods, similar to methods used by the classic master painters (e.g. Rembrandt and Vermeer, to name a few). We first create a "monotone" underpainting, by mixing warm and cool "greys" using complementary colors (I used burnt sienna and ultramarine blue) and lead white. We were identifying the lights and shadows (values) and letting the lead white form an impasto-type underlayer for texture. I was not too sure about what I was trying to do, but apparently the most successful or interesting results come when you get various textures and "happy accidents" using the lead white, neutral shadow colors and turpentine.
The first night we created a grisaille underpainting of a deer skull and bowls - the subject matter was mostly white/neutral colors.
The second night we created a grisaille underpainting of a colorful sunflowers/mangos still life.
The third night (this week) we practiced the glazing technique over the sunflowers grisaille painting (creating a thin "couch" layer of glazing medium, with thin layers of dry oil paint then scrumbled over areas of the painting and then rubbed out, and then successive thin layers of dry oil paint lain in, scrumbled and partially rubbed off). You can totally wipe out some glaze layers for hilights. The overlayment of color glazes are supposed to provide a luminosity to the paint. Then you can apply "impasto" paint as desired to finish off the painting.
I don't think I was that very successful with the glazing on this painting, since my underpainting seemed too dark and/or my glazes were applied too thickly. But I think I now have an idea of what to do with the next painting - at least we'll see if that is the case next week. Next week we create a grisaille underpainting from a live figure model. Should be fun and a different twist.
This is a challenge to learn a new technique while also trying to learn the special quirks of painting with oils. But just practicing using oils is helping me be more comfortable with the medium, which is what I wanted to accomplish after all.
I'll post our further progress in this class after our figure session next week!