Alla Prima Painting
Painting, usually from life, in a direct manner: Completing a painting in a single session or while the paint is still wet. In past eras used primarily as a means of sketching, but which became a means of producing finished works of art by the impressionists.
A method of painting that represents boldly contrasting lighting, usually drawing highlights out of a dark scene. Also an element of this effect in any picture.
The degree of brilliance of color away from neutral value. [color saturation]
Double Ground
Two superimposed paint layers of distinct color covering a sized panel or canvas as a surface upon which to paint.
Containing a large amount of oil
The rule of painting in layers in which each successive layer of paint should have more oil than the preceeding layer. By increasing the oil content, top layers have increasing degrees of flexibility, reducing the risk of cracking or flaking.
Gypsum (calcium sulphate) mixed with animal glue and applied as a ground to a wood substrate. Used in Southern Europe (primarily Spain and Italy). Northern Europeans used a similar ground of chalk (calcium carbonate) in a glue binder.
A first, coarse layer was known as gesso grosso. While a smooth top layer which could be polished to a fine tooth was called gesso sottile. Some later artists applied only one layer of gesso sottile.
A film of transparent color laid over a dried underpainting.
Monochromatic painting usually in various tones of gray. Traditionally the underpainting of a work, where local color is applied over the grisaille as opaque, semi-opaque or transparent color. Often shadows are colored with transparent colors and highlights are built up with increasing thickness of opaque paint.
The primary surface on which color is applied. Usually refers to an opaque coating rather than the support. Traditionally opaque white oil priming on canvas and chalk or gypsum mixed with animal glue (gesso) on wood panel. White acrylic polymer can be used on either surface.
If a colored isolation layer (imprimatura) is used as the primary surface, it can be considered the ground. (see also “Toned Ground”)
The lightest tone in a painting.
The simple color of a substance, for example: red, bluish red, or yellow-red.
Painting thickly with a bristle brush or palette knife in order to create surface texture.
An isolation layer consisting of pigments bound in an oil medium and applied over chalk or gesso grounds to prevent the medium in the subsequent paint layers from being absorbed by the ground. Could be bright to dark, transparent or non-transparent. Color provides a middle tone from which one can quickly move between lights and darks to produce a full value painting. Should be mid-tone or lighter — extremely dark underpainting can show through top layers as the work ages, especially when using lead white.
In modern usage on oil primed canvas, “imprimatura” is often used to describe a transparent stain of oil color that is applied to the entire surface to create a unifying midtone.
Most common colors: brown, earth-red, grey, or grey blue.
Resistant to fading when exposed to sunlight. Absolute measurement in artists’ pigments; relative measurement when applied to industrial coatings applications. Example: a ten-year house paint would be considered lightfast if it resisted fading for ten years. Artists’ pigments are judged in terms of centuries.
Local Color
The true or actual color of an object
(as compared to the color effect it produces when viewed as part of a whole composition or when influenced by light or atmospheric conditions in nature or by the technique and intentions of the painter in a work of art.)
A liquid additive used to control the application properties of paint, its drying time, and the elasticity of paint film when dry. In oil painting this usually contains combinations of drying oils, varnishes, balsams, essential oils or solvents, and driers.
Indicating the three-dimensional form of an object by the appropriate distribution of different tones. Creating the illusion of volume by painting the effects of light and shadow on form.
Monochromatic Underpainting
A preliminary painting in tones of one color. Overpainted with transparent, semi-opaque, and / or opaque color. See Grisaille above.
Palette The implement upon which a painter holds or mixes his colors. Or a selected assortment of colors chosen for use in a painting technique.
The visibility of line or color through the increasingly transparent overpainting which was originally used to conceal it. Ghost image. A characteristic of linseed oil since its refractive index increases with age.
An internal molecular realignment brought about by external force which changes the properties of a substance and increases its molecular weight without the addition of any new ingredients.
Example: the external force of oxygen upon a drying oil.
Prime / Primer
To cover a surface with a preparatory coat of color. A first coat or layer of paint, size, etc., given to any surface as a base, sealer, or the like. Often used to describe a pigment and oil (paint) ground applied to cloth such as canvas or linen. (see “Ground” above)
In 15th century Europe, the guilds of St. Luke recognized the profession of the panel maker as an independent craft within the guild. Artists could purchase panels “primed and prepared” with an imprimatura from such workshops, eliminating this slow and dirty job from their studios.
Scraping or scrubbing or dragging a thin layer of lighter opaque or semi-opaque color over a dark underpainting with a bristle brush, allowing the underpainting to show through.
The degree of lightness or darkness of a color.
Toned Ground
Where color is mixed with white as a primer to provide a uniform opaque ground.
Preliminary painting, over which successive layers of color are added. Can be monochrome or colored.
Degree of lightness and darkness.
Protective surface film imparting a glossy or matt surface appearance to a painting.
The liquid into which a pigment is ground in order to turn the dry powdered pigment into a liquid paint. The carrier of pigment.
Greenish underpainting