Chugging Along Part 2

Getting a lot accomplished with this one now…


All I have now to do is the sky and it will be done, done, done! And I reckon I can do this feat tomorrow since I can’t do it today. I will be working on the movie all day today. I’m leaving in 20 minutes! I need all day to do the sky because of the special underpainting technique I will be using.

I’ve heard it can also be called “sketching paint” when thinned down, but it says “underpainting” right on the label, and now I am about to tell one of my trade secrets! So put your seat belt on…


I use this stuff for my “sgraffito” technique. It’s the medium underneath. It dries really fast (like within a couple of hours, if not less, to the touch), and boy is it toxic! It will make the room stink like a meth lab, or worse. It usually gives me an instant headache, but I wouldn’t use anything else.

I put this down first, mix it with oil color if I please (for tint), and then wait until it’s tacky dry only. It’s a kind of urgent process since it dries so quickly, so I only use the technique in this particular way sparingly. This is the reason I really don’t like using acrylics since they dry even faster. It’s just anxiety producing. I do have a way I do this with oil over acrylics, but it’s not nearly as cool or as thick. It can’t be. This way is a much better effect with more options in the end.

Once that area is dry and I have a new oil color standing by, and I make sure it’s super slick and slippery. I’ll usually cut it with a little bit of linseed oil and/or Liquin, but make sure it’s mixed really, really well so that the paint is almost fluffy – not runny. I want it to slide easily on top of the underpaint so that it won’t mix with it. I want them two very different consistencies. The underpaint is thicker and denser. It’s pastier. The oil color on top will be more like a thin Vaseline.

Once it’s all covered with the top layer (and I can also blend and glaze it if I’m careful and use only sable brushes with a lighter touch), then I’m ready to “carve” into the paint to expose the underpaint. And the great thing about the consistency of the Grumbacher MG is that I can use any tool and it will give me some distinctive variations. A palette knife tip will show the entire cut-through from the scrape down to the canvas, to the beveled sides of the knife. A toothpick will give a crude even line, and I find the back of a larger threading needle works great because it doesn’t quite have a point that will scrape to the canvas surface. But the palette knife will show the colors best since it will show the angles into and out of the scrape. It’s just going to make a thicker line.

Needless to say, I will be doing this with the sky: a Lavender and white underpainting under a baby blue sky. And I too am curious as to how it will turn out so stay tuned. I’ll finally be done with this painting by the weekend, if not sooner. If it’s done Thursday, that means it took five weeks.

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