Why paint on red?
With the canvas already colored, there is no need to
cover every centimeter of it. Colors are less likely to
become muddied by mixing as they touch. Ground color can
separate different colors painted wet next to wet, avoiding
unwanted mixing. Red which is medium in value provides
contrast with whites/highlight colors as well as contrast
with darker shadow colors. Red is especially suitable in
landscape and water scenes. It contrasts opposing greens and
cerulean blues creating visual vibration effects, most
effective in foreground areas. The color ground, allowed to
consistently show through between painted brush marks, gives
an overall sense of unity to the finished
Click on any image to
Step 1 - Sky and lighter
Sky: White mixed with a little Cerulean Blue;
gradually lighter down toward horizon
Lightest background areas: Sunlit midground - White
with Cerulean Blue and Cadmium Lemon Yellow in varied
proportion mixtures of blue/yellow; areas painted
Tip: Follow the "fat over lean"
rule... add little (preferably no) linseed oil to the first
paint applied in all areas.
Step 2 - Distant background
Distant trees: White mixed with small amounts of
Ultramarine Blue, Viridian and Permanent Violet
Tip: Paint lighter areas first
leaving the slightly darker/closer trees blank (still red).
Paint remaining tree shapes using less white.
Tip: Cover all of the red canvas to eliminate any hint of
color intensity or warmth in the background. Cool and low
contrast/dull colors force the background to visually
Step 3 - Brightest close areas (for
Backlit close tree foliage: Cadmium Yellow Lemon both
unmixed and mixed with Sap Green
Transition between light midground and foreground
shadow: Mixtures of Cadmium Yellow Lemon and Sap Green,
increasing Sap Green toward the front.
Tip: Visually project the
foreground by allowing red canvas to show through.
Repeatedly skip little spaces between leaf and grass shapes
creating strong color contrasts and visual vibration
Step 4 - Foreground density
Darker foreground areas: Viridian and mixtures of
Viridian with Sap Green, Ultramarine Blue and/or Indigo to
create the darkest foliage and land masses in the
Tree trunks and branches: Ultramarine Blue mixed with
Burnt Umber and/or Burnt Sienna
Tip: Continue to leave bits of
unpainted red canvas increasing brightness and visual
projection of the foreground.
Step 5 - Foreground detail and
Tree and grass dark/light detail: Add Indigo shadows
to tree trunk/branch sections to suggest dimensionality.
Using Sap Green and Cadmium Yellow, both straight from the
tube and mixed, add lighter leaf clumps over dark foliage
masses. Add dashes of Cadmium Yellow as well as Indigo to
foreground grass plus a few touches of white for increased
Tip: Unmixed colors remain true
producing the strongest version of whatever their character.
Colors straight from the tube are therefore most effective
in the foreground.
Step 6 - Enhance depth
Foreground darkness: Apply glazes of Ultramarine
blue and/or Indigo to strengthen ground shadows.
Background haze: Apply glazes of White, or with a
little Ultramarine Blue added, over distant trees thus
dimming the background and softening any line separations
between horizon and sky.
Tip: Glazing works ONLY over paint
that is dry to the touch. I consists of mostly oil medium
with a tiny amount of paint mixed in.