Saturday, January 8, 2011

How to Begin A Painting

Have you ever been confused about the "right way" to begin a painting?  Do you read different experts, or take workshops only to come away confused because you are told/shown a different way to begin a painting with each new workshop?  One workshop presenter says not to tone a canvas and keep it white (they give support why they believe this to be better).  Another says to tone it to a value scale of 5.  Some say the toner should be warm while others use a color that is neutral.  These are just a few of the issues of "beginning" a painting on panel or canvas.  After much reading myself it has dawned on me that there is NO ONE RIGHT WAY!  So how do you choose? My blog for the next few months is going to deal with this issue and hopefully I can shed some light on this question.  My husband says it's kind of like choosing your faith or religion.  It's a matter of what you believe.  I want to explore as many ways to start a painting as practical and explore the strengths or weakness of one method over another?  How do you begin a painting on panel or canvas?  Let me know your method, okay? I will post as many different practices as possible.


  1. I look forward to all of these starts. I tone my canvas to about a 4, usually yellow ochre-cad yellow deep.

  2. This will be interesting to follow, I've been experimenting with different approaches. At the moment I am using both a warm tone and a diluted raw umber neutral. I have prepared panels/canvas in both tones for sketches and studio work, "at the moment" I would say the warm panels for sketches/ alla prima and the neutrals for indirect studio work. But I am still experimenting.

  3. Pam,
    Do you use those colors because they are compliments to most of the colors in a landscape?

  4. Jim,
    Is the raw umber for the neutral indirect studio work? If so, what colors do you use for the warm alla prima panels?


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