Monday, January 18, 2016

Painting on a Time Budget Workshop

 Demo of tangerine on blue background
4"x4" oil over acrylic under painting

Acrylic under painting example

Yesterday I taught a fun workshop at Artascope in Yarmouth, Maine. Students had gathered to learn how to put together a regular painting practice on a time budget. I'm a big believer that painting small paintings regularly, and doing your best to finish them in one sitting is the way to go to see fast improvement in your work. I also think that an approach using a solid value under painting makes for better composition, and thus better paintings. This was the basis for our workshop. 

Even for our small timed paintings, like the tangerine above, we did value under paintings. In that case the under painting was in acrylic with the color added in oil or acrylic, depending on the student. Painting over a value study allows you to make sure the value of the mixed color is correct. Put a dab of mixed color over the value and squint. If the color becomes indistinguishable from the value background, it's the right value. Students did several of these, as well as value studies, and added color over a value under painted landscape.

Color over Value Process
  1. Notan thumbnails in sketchbook
  2. Draw to size on canvas
  3. Block in value under painting (3 or 4 values)
  4. Add color over value (squint to check for value match)
  5. Refine shapes and values
  6. Highlights and pizzazz
Disclaimer: I've learned most of these techniques from the wonderful teachers I've studied with, in particular, Anne Blair Brown, Lori Putnam, Marc Hanson, Peggi Kroll-Roberts, and Carol Marine. Please forgive me if I've left anyone out!


  1. Thumbnails. I know I should do them and I almost never do. Very good list Bobbi.