Ground control

Stylising your shadows

This is a lesson I did with my oil class which makes the most of the ground, (an undercoat of either oil or acrylic paint that acts as a base colour for your painting). Grounds can be used with any other type of paint too.  It can be quite sterile and harsh to paint onto a white canvas, a ground can soften the blow and allows your painting to look finished more quickly. The colour you choose can play a huge part in the overall effect and mood of the painting.  You can also leave your ground showing to a greater or lesser degree.  Here the ground colour has been left untouched to become the shadows of the flower.

In this exercise, I suggested a really strong blue, one that is often found in shadow colours,

Shining some strong light on an orchid, or another structured looking flower against a backdrop makes the shadows very clear and crisp looking.

Paint your background colour round the outline of your shadows.  It makes for a really striking finish and looks quite like an oriental fabric design.

In this example the blue ground colour on the shadows have been softened but the ground acts more as an outline to the flowers.

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