( grisalle method)
8 x 10 Oil Painting by Pat Fiorello
I have several different methods for painting flowers. Most are "alla prima". Sometimes I start with a transparent underpainting, then build opaque colors on top. Other times I put dark background in and lift out the spaces where the light flowers will go. And sometimes I lightly sketch in the flower shapes, build shadow shapes, then light shapes and refine from there.
Recently I attended a workshop given by Brian Davis. His method is quite different from any of these more direct methods I typically follow. So I have been experimenting to see what that approach might be able to achieve or if there are elements of it that I might incorporate into my own process.
A few days ago I shared "Close Friends" 12 x 16 oil which I did in my own way. I decided to give the same composition a try with this new method and see the difference. Below is the start with this new method where you start with a middle value grey and then build up the pattern of lights and darks, leaving the original grey tone to show thru where the midtones will be in the composition.
After that underpainting (or grisaille) dries, then you build colors on top of it. If multiple layers are required (which is usually the case), then you must wait for the previous layer to dry. To speed up the process a bit, you can use oil alkyds which dry faster than traditional oils. But even with the faster drying you'd still most likely have to wait till the next day, so it ends up being a multi- day process as opposed to more direct methods.
Below is the same painting done in my own method initially. The "experiment" is posted at the top of this post and to be fair is an 8 x 10 so a little less detail was included than the larger version.
When I look at them side by side, the "experiment" may have a bit more depth, however that could be achieved in the other method as well, glazing over a few areas to deepen the values if desired. I think the grisalle method helps you stay true to the values as you get into color, however, since I usually have a value sketch before I start painting, I usually have a road map on where I'm going during the painting process.
My conclusion thus far is that you can arrive at the same place in a number of different ways. As Richard Schmid says, painting is all about having the right shapes of the right value and color in the right place. Sounds easy, but my fellow artist know it takes practice and lots of work to achieve that.
I'll continue to experiment with this new approach although I don't see it replacing my current methods. It's good to have options to explore.
Do you see anything else comparing the two?
Have you experimented with different methods?
Would love to hear what you've learned by doing so.