Under the Painting: Underpainting

Under the Painting: Underpainting

Beginning a new piece is at once exciting and nerve wracking. The creative process is, I believe, the reason we are living. Not to be denied, this characteristic rises with us daily, after having explored the vast possibilities of our dreams, of our history.

“One day I walked upon a strip of land that belonged to nothing.”  Emily Carr

This is how a painting begins, emerging from the beautiful, blank canvas of mind. Perhaps this isn’t how it happens at all, as most of us have minds running at high speed from one task to another, from one crisis to solution or dissolution, from daily tasks to imagined scenarios, all of which contribute to elevated blood pressure and chaotic relations with everything and everyone in our envirionment. Ha! Like that sentence. For me, a painting begins with the exquisite quieting experienced as I gesso the panel with layers of silent, smooth white.

Literally, the underpainting is a layer or layers of color and texture.  This layer informs  subsequent layers creating depth of character. The artist applies shape, form, and color which creates composition, editing as she moves into and through the process. This musing on “underpainting” reveals how it can be so satisfying to paint over a painting, to let go of the sacred cow of specialness, to revel in creative exploration, unencumbered.


Gesso a panel today. Or a piece of paper. Let the process begin.