Oil Painting Techniques:

Imprimatura

What is 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 -

 

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 automati- cally have my sky in place when I start.

 

  • it helps me more easily judge color.

Counterpoint

An alternative to a cool imprimatura is to use a warm imprimatura (such as a sienna, an orange, or a pink hue), I use a warm imprimatura on occasions when painting a scene that is has mainly cool colors such as greens or blues.

 

 

Note: For more information on the oil and acrylic painting technique of imprimaturas, see the lesson on the Alla Prima process in Workshop D of the Virtual Art Academy® Apprentice Program.

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