Intermediate Oil Part 2 and 3: Plaster Cast

In this lesson we have built upon the underpainting “imprimatura” in Part 1. As mentioned in Part 1, the palette that we are using is going to be a “square” tetrad: two sets of complementary colors. In this case: red/green and violet/yellow. First we need to make a color chart in order to practice and create the mixes. Use ultramarine blue as the basis for the green and violet, and cadmium yellow light for the yellow. Cadmium red deep will be used for the red.

We use a prismatic palette that will use color compositionally as well as tonally and defining temperature. Prismatic refers to the selection and use of color as it relates to the color spectrum, not necessarily what the colors of the still life are. This will create a more colorful painting overall.



I like to paint on wooden birch panels for the natural beauty and feel of the wood.

This painting will have a total of about 3 layers: 1) the underpainting; 2) the first color pass of warm and cool (yellow and violet); and 3) the second color pass of green and red.

In the following gourd paintings below, I’ve used the first color pass to block in basic light and dark forms to build three dimensional space. I’ve let the violet and yellow mix a bit to create some green.



Now for Part 3:

Letting the painting dry a bit, I’m going to go back in and add a “velatura” a little coat of velvet. This is a classical term used to describe a semi-opaque layer of paint on top of previous layers. It lets in some light, but adds a rich color. By adding more green and red (cool and warm) in addition to my original colors, I will kick the painting up a notch. Using the red and green also as tonal middle values (they are the two colors in the spectrum with the same inherent value). These two colors also exist roughly halfway between yellow (the lightest) and violet (the darkest) colors.

Here is my plaster cast finial with tonal drawing and panel with first color pass:


Getting more expressive with the beginning second color pass:


Let your brush strokes express the shape and direction of your forms.

Here’s Janis’ painting of Apollo, she’s beginning her first color pass:


And finally some notes from the class using the second color pass:


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