Grisaille (pronounced griz-eye) is a painting term that means "gray tones". This monochrome painting executed in gray tone values ranging from dark to light, transparent to opaque, flat to reflective, and sometimes from warm to cool.
Transparent oil color glazes are then applied over the finished grisaille painting to bring it to a full color art work.
Then opaque color accents are the finishing touches.
by Linda L Coulter
PaintWorks Magazine published Linda's feature story entitled, "Colorless Paintings -The Grisaille Secret." Therein Linda Coulter explained her reasons for choosing the grisaille art style and how it is based on Renaissance art concepts of the Old Masters of Europe.
Linda Coulter is an internationally published artist with readers from 5 continents. She has been teaching fine art and decorative art for 29 years and through those years has taught over 10,000 people from 5 continents how to paint.
Grisaille painting has been the most successful for all skill levels, ranging from beginners to advanced painters.
The benefits of a grisaille foundation:
1. Grisaille (gray tone value) underpainting divides and conquers the painting process, so it's great for painters of all skill levels.
2. In essence, an artist must capture the rhythm of nature and allow light to dance playfully through an art work. The foundation for this is achieved in the graytone process.
3. The artist builds a foundation in gray tones. This monocrhome underpainting ranges in value from black to white and includes various gray values that will facilitate various kinds of effects when light tries to pass through or bounce off the layers of paint.
4. The truly effective grisaille underpainting builds a network of paint layers that actually channel natural sunlight from the surface (ground layer), all the way up through the final layer of colors. So, when the sunshine pours down on this painting, the structure or network of the grisaille underpainting makes it possible for the light to be reflected back to greet your eyes with rich color infused with shimmering light! In other words, luminosity.
This concept was developed many centuries ago when pigments were very scarce. The Old Masters had only a handful of pigments to accomplish their beautiful results so they had to push each individual pigment to its fullest capacity to be able to achieve the luminosity in their art work that made them famous. In essence, they cherished the "inner light" that played and danced through their network of colors on canvas, and made that "inner light" an integral part of their paintings.
Not every art work requires brilliant luminosity to achieve the desired results. However, even a soft misty atmosphere should be enhanced by colors infused with natural sunlight to capture the essence of life.
5. The grisaille underpainting provides a foundation for transparent color overlays. Transparent colors have no body by themselves. That is, you can't create textural quality using a transparent paint alone. Thereby, the illusion of texture is created in the grisaille underpainting, over which color is glazed using transparent oil paint.
6. The finished grisaille underpainting can stand alone as a finished art work. That would be called a classic grisaille.
7. Linda Coulter's multi-layered art works are designed with passageways through which light can freely pass, producing the special effects and illusions that the artist wants to achieve.
In essence, she allows natural sunlight to participate in the finished design and uses only a handful of precious pigments to produce color radiance in her art works.
Join Linda Coulter in a class this year to learn her easy grisaille painting and color glazing techniques.
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