Art Lesson 41, Part 2
How to do Grisaille Painting Using Dry Brush Method
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Grisaille Painting Using Dry Brush Method
We continue session one, while the brown Brush Sketch is still wet.
This Sketch will be continued with a monochromatic painting, called Grisaille. For the Grisaille, we use Titanium White from a tube with no Medium added.
When painting, we use the Dry Brush method. The paint should be applied more densely in the most illuminated parts and be spread thinly in half tones. In darkest shades, the Brown Sketch should be left untouched. In half-tones, Titanium White can be intermixed with the Brown Sketch.
This paint layer should not be too thick. Let the Imprimatura show through the white paint layer.
When you switch to a softer hair brush, like this one, keep a little paint on it and gently rub it into the canvas. It works especially well for painting flesh, making the paint appear smooth and velvety. Such soft brushes are better-suited for detail and small areas.
In the more lighted areas, you can build up a thicker layer of paint. This makes the surface even more tangible, as the thickness of paint visually brings the surface closer to the viewer. On the other hand, the thinner the layer, the further the surface seems.
We proceed to a drapery Underpainting. To differentiate between textures of the skin and the drapery, we will paint the drapery more densely. That’s why we are painting it more roughly than we did the skin.
Again, we apply the Dry Brush method. As you remember, this method doesn’t require any Medium.
The folds are large because the fabric is quite thick. We apply our paint with Hog Brushes, working on lights only. Shades are left untouched. We paint with thick, sketchy brushstrokes. At this stage of the Underpainting, our general task is to establish the lightest areas of the composition. This also includes building up the paint layer volume.
Here is a very quick preview of the second Grisaille portrait. If you have to paint a portrait in an unusual angle, turn the canvas to an upright position while painting. This will help keep the proportions more accurate.
The first Underpainting layer has dried completely. By this time, I have already changed the initial idea of painting “Salome”, so I have to remove the head. For this, we need a good quality volatile solvent, for example a White Spirit.
It would be better to remove the painted passage while it is still wet. However, it can be partially wiped off, even when it has dried.
Immerse a piece of cloth into White Spirit and gently rub the surface of the dry paint. Try not to apply too much pressure, to avoid damaging the canvas. Then remove excess remains of the dissolved paint from the canvas.
Now you can either leave the surface as it is and later paint another design, or cover the head with Venetian Red, the color we used for the Brown Sketch.
It is time to proceed with the Underpainting of the hands.
The skin of hands, as of a face, should be painted more smoothly compared to fabric. Keep your brush almost dry while spreading the paint. The lighter the area, the thicker the paint should be applied.
This is our first layer. Do not overload the canvas with paint, volume will be built up gradually, layer after layer.
As a reminder, every following layer has to be applied when the previous layer is completely dry.
We continue the Underpainting after the previous layers have dried completely. The task for this step is to build up the volume of the paint layer and increase the whiteness of our Underpainting.
As we add more details, we still keep the Underpainting quite simple. To paint face features, we use pure unthinned Venetian Red. In places of deeper shade, Mars Black can be added to Venetian Red.
That is all for now. Now we can set the canvas aside to dry.
To recap, here is a high-speed demonstration of painting the Grisaille.