Colored Pencil | Underpainting with a Solvent

A colored pencil Underpainting tints paper without destroying its tooth, so the artist can create textures and other effects. There are two underpainting methods: one with wax/oil-based pencils and a solvent and the other with water-soluble pencils. To create a water-soluble underpainting, the colored pencil is layered on the paper surface exactly as it would be with dry pencils, and then water is added with a brush. Water-soluble underpaintings produce uneven, loose results, while underpainting with solvents produces an even color distribution. All colors in this demonstration are Prismacolor, except when noted as Faber-Castell Polychromos (FCP).

Colored Pencil Underpainting with a Solvent, Gary Greene demonstration image
Layer the pear’s shadow with warm gray 30% and 20%.

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Colored Pencil Underpainting with a Solvent, Gary Greene demonstration image
Apply the solvent (Bestine rubber cement thinner) over the shadow areas with a round watercolor brush and then with a cotton swab.

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Colored Pencil Underpainting with a Solvent, Gary Greene demonstration image
Apply the color limepeel to the pear’s shadow area. Layer the pear’s body colors with gamboge (Prismacolor Lightfast), jasmine, yellow chartreuse and cream.

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Colored Pencil Underpainting with a Solvent, Gary Greene demonstration image
Apply solvent over the pear as you did over the shadow areas. The solvent will not affect the colors beneath it.

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Colored Pencil Underpainting with a Solvent, Gary Greene demonstration image
Layer the final body colors: yellow ochre, scarlet lake, poppy red, vermilion, burnt ochre (FCP), terra cotta (FCP) and mineral orange.

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Colored Pencil Underpainting with a Solvent, Gary Greene demonstration image
Layer the stem with black, dark brown, light umber and burnt ochre (FCP). Layer the pear’s shadow with cool gray 50% and 30%, yellow ochre, terra cotta and vermilion.

Gary Greene has been a full-time artist since 1967 and is the author of four books and videos on colored pencil techniques, including No Experience Required: Colored and Watercolor Pencil. This demonstration is an excerpt from his article “Uptight is All Right” in the November 2008 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Click here to order your digital copy.


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