How Underpainting in Red Can Transform Your Art

Mar 14, 2023 | Blog, Tips & Tricks

The Vital Step of Underpainting

Underpainting—the technique pioneered by the Old Masters of applying a layer of paint to a blank canvas prior to more visible layers of paint—has been adopted by modern artists for many reasons. Underpainting can combat the fear of a white canvas, build tonal values into a painting, and act as a blueprint for the future painting. Whatever the reason, if you are an acrylic or oil artist, please don’t skip underpainting! Though it may add time to your painting process, when done correctly, underpainting has a powerful effect on your finished work.

The Power of Underpainting to Affect Color

Underpainting is the secret to color depth in your work. It influences the color direction of your work, shifting the mood of your piece and allowing for more realistic colors and luminosity in your painting. 

Underpainting also unifies the color composition within a single painting. Even better, if you’re presenting a body of work in an art gallery or art show, consider using the same color to underpaint each piece of your collection. You will create visual unity in your body of work, making a cohesive whole.

Underpaint in Red for Vibrancy

Since the color of your underpainting influences the color direction of your painting, the color you choose to underpaint makes a big difference. One of the most versatile colors to use as an underpainting is red. Red interacts with other colors—particularly greens, oranges, and purples—to create luminosity, make your visible colors pop, and build a depth not otherwise possible. Try different red tones for your underpainting, some popular colors include Quinacridone Crimson, Quinacridone Nickle Azo Gold, and magenta, which can make your paint colors appear to glow.