Underpainting for an Abstract Painting

Underpainting for an Abstract Painting

Sometimes I like to do an underpainting on a canvas. Essential I apply a layer of color, or mix of colors, then let it dry and paint over it. Underpainting is a centuries old technique that many painters use as a way to color the canvas prior to beginning their painting.

One of the main reasons to do an underpainting is to create a middle value color before you begin the painting. The middle value gives you a good base to paint over so that you can judge the middle values as you paint. It is also much easier to see light values when placed on the canvas if it is first covered with a middle values.

I typically will do an underpainting that is warm in color or a warm neutral (as in this demo) color. I’ll use lots of water and let the bottom part of the underpainting drip off and then often leave a little of that exposed in the final painting.

For this underpainting I am using a mix of two colors, both GOLDEN Heavy Body Acrylics: Neutral Gray 6 and Titan Buff. Titan Buff is sometimes referred to as buff titanium or unbleached titanium. It is a warm, off-white color. I love the mixture of these two colors because it provides a nice, soft warm gray color and it is easy to get a middle value on the canvas.

I mix the two colors with lots of water on the palette and with the spray bottle to make sure it is applied thinly over the surface. I like it to drip, so I make sure it does so. I apply it thinly because I like to have a luminous underpainting that still leaves a little of the light of the canvas coming through as opposed to an opaque underpainting. One isn’t better than another, it’s just personal preference. Once the underpainting is dry, I paint over it.

Here is what I painted over this underpainting:

“Red Rocks 1” 24x24 Acrylic and Art Crayons on Canvas.

“Red Rocks 1” 24x24 Acrylic and Art Crayons on Canvas.

Notice that I left some of the underpainting visible toward the bottom of the painting. I also let some small areas of the underpainting peek through the upper layer of paint.

Have fun with this, and make sure your underpainting is really loose!

If you'd like to learn about abstract painting, then please join me for a painting workshop: (You can view a list of 2019-2020 workshops HERE)

  • October 4-6 Arts and Design Society, Fort Walton Beach, FL. For more information and registration contact Hanna at hanna222@cox.net.

  • October 14-16 Sharon Serrago Studio, Richardson, TX. For information and registration Click Here.

  • October 24-26 Arizona Art Supply, Phoenix, AZ. For information and registration Click Here.

  • November 4-6 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and Registration Click Here. Sold Out!

  • November 16-17 Art of the Carolinas, Raleigh, NC-Sponsored by Jerry’s Artarama. For information and registration Click Here.

  • January 9-11, 2020 Arts Alliance of Lee County, Ft. Myers, FL. For information and registration contact Brandi Couse. Email: bcouse@artinlee.org.

  • January 22-24, 2020 David M. Kessler Fine Art Studio, Winston-Salem, NC. For information and registration, Click Here. Only 2 Seats Left!

As always, thanks for your support!


P.S. If you you'd like to learn more about Abstract Painting in the comfort of your home or studio, I have a great course called Abstract Painting Academy available for you:

Abstract Painting Academy is an online workshop experience. It is my best and most thorough course covering everything you need to become a better abstract painter.

Click Here to Learn More


Subscriber Painting Discount. If you are a subscriber to my email list, one of the perks is a 50% discount on all paintings on my website over $300 - like the painting shown here. You’ll also get a free ebook just for signing up.
You Can Sign-Up and Become a Subscriber Here.
You Can View My Paintings Here. Use the Coupon Code: EMAILDISCOUNT at check out.