'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

Go here to find out more.

Friday, 3 September 2010

An art exercise comparing grounds

Here is the background to my Naplopomo badge posted yesterday.

It is a little exercise that is great for demonstrating the effect on a painting of different grounds, or background colours.  
The brief is to divide the work into four and have four different grounds as follows:
1. (top left) white gesso
2. (top right) any very dark colour (a 'black' mixed from other colours)
3. (lower left) any colour
4. (lower right) the complement (opposite on the colour wheel) of (3)

Here are the grapes I used for my subject.  As you can see, they became rather wizened towards the end.  I had to use my imagination to plumpen them up again.   And a photo or two helped too.

The still life was worked on each of the four different grounds, but using the same palette for each. 

I worked in acrylics on a piece of unstretched canvas 560cm x 560 cm.  I painted on each bunch of grapes at the same time, adding a colour/ developing a feature to each square in rotation.  Towards the end the differences between the squares was very marked.  Especially noticeable was the yellow square- In this one the grapes were very brown.   I confess I cheated a bit and added a lot more blue-violet to this one.  Even so, the differences in atmosphere were still very apparent on completion.


You can see very clearly how the tone of the ground influences the subsequent layers.  It's important to choose a ground that helps create the mood you want in your painting.  


  1. Your patience is phenomenal Katherine but as the results prove - worth it!

  2. It's fascinating to get to have a look at your artistic process. Even though I don't know anything about painting or drawing!

  3. Thanks for sharing the process of creating with us.

  4. Informative and beautifully painted. Thank you.

  5. Simply fascinating! I know, as I've mentioned several times before, absolutely nothing about the production of art. I only know I enjoy looking at everything you produce.

    The verification word is taxes. You're not going to charge me for looking, are you?

  6. Fascinating to see the differences - thank you for letting us glimpse how the painter needs to think...

  7. Thank you everyone! Glad you enjoyed this post.

  8. Robert, that would be like charging for the smell of dinner.

  9. I really do enjoy learning from your 'art lessons'. Not that I think I could ever aspire to doing but you are giving me a greater insight into the art I so love. Thank you.

  10. Thank you Geeb. In turn, I am grateful to my tutors for providing these great lessons that give me an opportunity to learn a little of this huge subject. Thank you Ani, for this one.


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