Classic Oil Grisaille (Underpainting)


A classic grisaille underpainting describes form without color and is called the indirect method whereby carefully planned stages develop the painting. Design and composition is the foundation of a painting – without values we can not see form. Simplifying the values into light, mid-tone and dark is all that’s needed to methodically plan this preliminary layer of paint in monochrome. Generally the “color” of the grey monochrome is made through mixing the 3 primaries together with white. Traditionally grisailles were painted quite high key or high in values, since it was a deliberate painting process of layering paint, with each successive layer darkening areas further. If you paint in a more direct manner with intuitive glazes generally towards the end of the piece, it isn’t as important to keep the initial grisaille high key.

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