Anthony Ryder
Fine Art

Painting on a Toned Ground

A note on grounds:
In painting parlance the ‘ground’ is the primer, sometimes called gesso, applied to the panel or canvas on which we paint.  Painters work on a number of different grounds: traditional gesso (water-based, used on panels exclusively), oil grounds (lead and titanium-zinc are the two most common), half-oil (an emulsion of traditional gesso and oil), and acrylic (water-based polymer w/titanium-zinc).  Over the years, I’ve worked on all these.  At the present time I mostly paint on double lead-primed linen canvas.  

If you take a look the Form Painting page on this site, you will notice that after doing the poster study I started on a white canvas.  I then do a charcoal drawing, followed by a color wash, and after that the final, opaque paint layer.

In painting on a toned ground, I skip the charcoal drawing and the underpainting.  Instead, I tone the ground with a neutral wash.  In the painting below, I used a dilute mixture of raw umber and ivory black, thinned in OMS (odorless mineral spirits).  I combine the raw umber and black to produce a warm grey. 

Once the tone is dry (I prefer to tone the canvas a day or two before I start the painting), I draw out the composition in paint.  I find that Deep Ochre (Old Holland) works pretty well for the drawing.  I use small bristle filberts and acrylic rounds for this stage.  Drawing with a brush is different from drawing with charcoal or pencil.  It takes some getting used to, but once you are used to it, I think you will find that you like it very much.

Once the drawing is in, I go directly into the form painting.


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