I learned a new word this past week in my art course, and this all builds on the foundation that I learned in my previous class. I love it when education makes sense and creates a concrete basis for understanding new ideas and perhaps some old well tested concepts. The word is Grisaille, which is a French term for basically a transition from doing charcoal drawing to oil painting. The students would learn how to paint with only white paint and black paint and learn how to mix and create various values of grey to make pictures that looked realistic. Once they mastered the ability to paint in black and white paint, they would be allowed to start using color. It’s so obvious, but I never thought of it.
I used to only draw in black and white. I did not paint and hated the oil paint, which I thought was pretty much the only thing that real artists’ used. Kinda a limited view, huh? Then I saw the watercolor painters’ work and wow. Tried that. Absolutely sucked at it. It was insanely difficult, so I decided I should stick to my pencils and be happy with them. Then I started doing re-enactment and we needed props, so I used acrylic because it dried fast and was thicker than water colors. I painted on wood and sometimes fabric for flags. As the years went on I really enjoyed creating the decorative wooden boxes and wanted to make more detailed an advanced pictures. This is how I got into acrylic. It kinda snuck up on me without me really realizing it. Before long I was attempting little practice pictures and it was tough to figure out how to shade these colored items to give them more life.
I wish I had thought of doing these practice pictures in monochrome. That would have been the perfect way to learn how to control the paint and figure out how to do the shading and highlights to give the objects more realistic appearances. Sigh. Now I am doing things backwards…. But I figure all this work will make me a better painter in the end and I will learn ways to show others how to improve their skills. So here is one of my homework assignments.
And if you want to learn more about Grisaille painting, you can always go to Wikipedia for the basics or put the word Grisaille into Google and it will bring up all kinds of info and pictures. My sphere is not perfect, but I think it’s pretty good and I am improving and I have my previous drawing instructor to thank. She did a good job in creating a solid foundation for me to stand upon. Thanks Jeannie!
G. Winkler © 2012