Painting the Portrait: The Grisaille Method in Oil Part 1
Articles

Painting the Portrait: The Grisaille Method in Oil Part 1



hello my name is Mandy Borsato I'm an artist working in the classical realist tradition for artists who trained in this method the academic method we first start with drawing in graphite then move on to charcoal and then finally we move on to painting the entry point for painting is painting the grisaille agarose eye is a monochromatic painting that is incorporating the method of using a 9-step value system creating an illusion of form this quiz is going to be painted over the course of two days the first day is about the block in the overall map the second stage will be about the details we'll be using two types of oil paints today the opus essential oil colors and gamblin artists oil colors there'll be two types of brushes an opus fortissimo range and the Princeton 6600 range two small Italian palette knives for paper we'll be using the arches oil paper for medium we'll be using the M grande walnut alkyd medium for solvent will be using gamblin gamsol and we'll be using the mastersons stay wet palette box to hold our gray paper palette now that we have our five tubed paints squeezed out on the palette we have our five values on our nine value scale this would be one three five seven and nine we're now going to mix the intermediary values that is two four six and eight so take some of the Portland great light with the back of the palette knife you can clean the palette knife off and then take some of the white and what we're going to do is mix until we get a value that is exactly halfway between our left and our right make sure you're always using the back of the palette knife and all of this that's left on the back to scrape it off your second palette knife the grace that we're using our convenience colors so that we don't need to mix seven different values on our palette from the black and white although that's entirely possible once we have our 9 value set up the first step is to do the block in we want to dilute our black paint with solvent as much as possible to make it transparent but this is too wet so what we need to do is dry this off on our paper towel the block and consists of measuring and placing the outer parameters of the portrait so basically this needs to be transferred over to this canvas paper these are just placement marks so the outer parameters is what we're looking for and I will start with some straight lines straight blocking lines that replicate the large overall shape once you have the head generally blocked in it's time to move on to the construct in the construct we measure where the brown line goes where the nose line goes where the eye line goes and where the lip line goes terms of a vertical alignment seems to align with the center of the eye and then we have an angle going down now in terms of the outer shape we need to get in where the ear is and now we are going to match angles with in the box that we have created then within this framework that we've set up we have what we do need and we're going to further refine this now we're going to move into the shadow shapes so we need to step aside from the idea of painting a portrait to the idea of just looking for a light and dark pattern of lights and shadows for the blocking what we're really looking at is the big overall shapes we're really not looking for any details and in order to help us with looking at big overall shapes it's best to use a large bristle brush to get that loose sketchy ghosty lines that will just tell the big picture I've turned the painting upside down to further look at the shapes turning a painting upside down removes us from the idea that we're painting a portrait and we start to look at shapes more abstractly and in looking at things more abstractly and just at shapes we're less invested in this being a nose and is this what I typically think of as a nose as opposed to just this one shape on its own you can really only do this once you set up the overall proportions and know that your overall proportions are correct essentially the first step in doing the blocking is linear but now that we're establishing shadows our painting is moving from being one that is about line to one that's about shape and mass and volume and once we do that our painting starts look much more like the original whether our original is a master copy or whether the original is a model from real life now I'm going to paint the background I want a fairly large brush in this case I've got a number eight bristle brush and the background in this case is nearly black just a little bit off black so I'm going to mix from my values something between the nine and the eight value the background is important because it frames the rest of our painting this background in this case it's framing our head the the hair here is kind of fairly loose so we want to brush some of this background color in not make it quite so thick and we use the background color to reshape our head if we've made any mistakes and I like to paint the background as a kind of beam yet so that means not all the way to the edge and some kind of interesting pattern oil painting can really be seen as a series of Corrections so every stroke that we take could be correcting the last one we have a painting that consists of two values the white of the paper and the background value it's now time to move from a two value painting to a three value painting and for this I'm going to lock in all the shadows in a single unified value when painting the single unified shadow value is essential to identify exactly where the shadows go and we need an understanding of a classical order of light in order to do that so if the light is coming from the top left by logical deduction we know that everything on the right and bottom will be in shadow I'm not gonna make any variations in here it's going to paint in all one flat values the next step is to key the painting now that we've established our shadows including the darkest dark we put in a stroke for the lightest light which in this case is going to be right around here the key light is crucial as it impacts the overall tone of the painting if you use a full range of values in your key your painting comes across as very powerful and very strong it's now time to move into the painting of the rest of the lights I'm going to start with my darkest lights I put one stroke down to see if I'm in the right place yes I am this value is lighter than that but it represents the darkest of it's using synthetic Princeton brush number eight and values two through five with the addition of medium I'm now going to patch in the lights to show major plane shifts we're now beginning to model the basic geometric forms because this is the first layer in our painting we want to eliminate all hard edges the reason being that oil paints are quite translucent and the hard edges are always going to show through so at the end of the first paintings day let's go through the painting and soften all our edges now that I've finished painting the lights I'll put the painting a way to dry in a safe place proceed to the cleanup and get ready for part two where I'm going to be painting the details I'm Andy Bosco with opus art supplies see you in part two you

29 Comments

  • Sonja Gartner

    Looks like you're putting your oils into the freezer overnite…. does that work? Are they useable the next day?

  • Lotusjoy

    Thank you so much for the great detailed lesson. You are amazing and know your subject very well. I have been painting using the grisaille and I must say there are different ways to achieve it. Many artists now skip some steps to finish the painting faster, but it is their decision. I love your process and how clear are the explanations. I will follow your work, it is impecable, clear and very educational for those who take art seriously. Love your work! Pls continue posting videos. Great job!

  • Zvonimir Tosic

    I do not understand this video. Old masters (15th to early 19th century) would hardly ever start painting shapes directly on white canvas. Depending on subject, whether it includes landscape, portrait, etc., canvas is primed with permanent darker pigments such as iron oxide, ochre, etc. Those permanent pigments block painting from behind, creating stabile permanent base. Drawing is transferred using pouncing technique, then lines completed with white chalk or charcoal. On top of chalk/charcoal drawing, grisaille is done using pure white tempera (oil is not necessary at this stage) by blending it into background, thinning or thickening white paint as needed, to achieve all values ranging from background to pure white. That is the start, and all what was necessary for grisaille under-painting. And as for greys, they were achieved later, using scumbling technique; transparent white (or other pigment) is scumbled all over colour work to neutralise colours, then removed with rags or scumbled again where needed, in several passes.

  • Deborah gonzalez knight

    She is amazing. What a brilliant teacher. She says more in this video than 6 weeks in a dreadful atelier in the UK I went to recently.

  • Stewart Nash

    Grisaille Painting
    0. Establish 9 different values from black and white
    1. The Block-In
                   a. Paint in outer parameters of portrait
                    b. Replicate the large overall shape
    2. The Construct
                    a. Establish the location of key features
            b. For example, the brow line, nose line eye line, and lip line for portraits (and ear and mouth)
    3. The Shadow Shapes
                    a. Look for light and dark shadows of overall shapes
                    b. move from lines to mass, shape, and value
    4. Paint the Background
                    a. use a large brush
                    b. “oil painting may be seen as a series of corrections”
    5. Paint a single shadow value
                    a. block-in all the shadows in a single unified shadow value
                    b. understand where the shadows are by taking into account the direction of the light
    6. Key the Painting
                   a. put in the stroke of the lightest light
    7. Painting of the Lights
                    a. you may start with the darker values if you wish
                    b. capture the lights modeling large plane shifts
                   c. use values 2 to 5
            d. model basic geometric forms
            e. eliminate all hard edges (soften them) because they will show through as oil paint is translucent
    8. Reassess and Correct Major Shapes
            a. stand back ever so often and compare painting to master copy
    9. Variations of the Darks
            a. start with lighter shadows before going to darkest and lightest
            b. organize individual brushes with individual values/shades
           c. use a mal stick to support arm for details
            d. can deal with edges while painting or at the end of the process
            e. for a gradation one may paint one flat value and then adjust it with wet-into-wet
    10. The Rendering of the Lights
            a. think about big form and large planes first
            b. only blend the edges of strokes
           c. transition rough strokes/value placement
           d. (overpaint from what you need and then correct the shape?)
            e. after painting darkest lights, paint lightest light
    11. Reassess  and Deal with Edges
            a. correct small forms and small changes of direction
            b. blend and knit adjacent brushstrokes, perhaps by working with two brushes of adjacent values, soften hard edges so that there is a mix of soft, hard, and lost edges
            c. focus on each individual area and bring it to a complete finish

  • Sam Dave Pollard

    Seems like a ten minute video on YouTube just taught me more about painting than art lessons twice a week for ten years when I was a kid going to school. WTF?
    Incredibly useful.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  • Niq van Doorn

    Malcolm Gladwell said in his book Outliers that "to achieve world class expertise in any skill is largely a matter of practicing the correct way for about 10 000 hours". And here is a world class artist that can show you how to get there a bit sooner. Thank you for posting these videos 🙂

  • Douglas Genuske

    Is there another video on the process of adding color after the monochrome under painting is in place? Or am I missing the point and this is for monochrome painting specifically? Thanks.

  • Grozny Entertainment

    I know artists  in academia are sensitive about criticizing their "academic" method because of their jobs .. but seriously do we have to go to school to learn art? not to mention the student loan debt that will cause a "blue period".Maybe Picasso got lucky with his blues  but not the starving artist  .. So thankfully a paint supplier and YouTube joined together to stop this art school non sense and I hope a full curriculum will be produced on this channel 

  • Stephen Musquiz

    i absolutely love you….you are an amazing teacher….I plan on purchasing all the supplies you are using and thank you again…OMG you're fabulous !!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *