Day 2: An Athlete's Football Portrait


I was up early again this morning and was able to complete the underpainting on Elijah’s football portrait. Underpainting is a low-key version of the final painting. This method of using a brown or gray monochrome underpainting is also called a grisalle, which was used by the Renaissance artists. It may seem odd to do an underpainting that I’m going to paint over, why not start with full color? You can think of it as a blueprint of the final version of the painting and it serves several purposes:
1. It fixes the main compositional elements.
2. It serves as a tonal guide to the subsequent application of color.
3. It allows me to paint with thin paint, particularly in the shadows (remember “fat over lean.”) 
I used it here to establish the tonal values in this painting. I want to get all the tones right on his skin and jersey before adding color that will begin tomorrow. This underpainting was done with raw umber and odorless mineral spirits. Raw umber is a lovely warm neutral that works well for the underpainting of a portrait because it’s also slightly greenish which allows the warm pink skin tones (compliment of green) to shine and balance.
This step will dry over night and I can begin the fun part of painting color tomorrow.