Virtual Art Academy
painting support


What is an imprimatura?

The imprimatura helps you judge values better, and can also provide a base for optical color mixing effects.

How to do it


Mix black with a little phthalo blue together with liquin or with a mixture of 80% dammar varnish 28% turpentine and very small amount (2%) of linseed oil (to prevent cracking).

The liquin makes the imprimatura dry quickly. Cover the canvas thinly, scrubbing the paint into the surface so that you end up with a transparent layer of a value of around six or seven (on the Munsell scale).

Color of imprimatura

Imprimatura 1

I use a cool blue gray imprimatura because:

  • it often approximates to a sky color, which is another reason I like to use this imprimatura so I automatically have my sky in place when I start.
  • it helps me more easily judge color.