Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grisaille sketches I

The word grisaille come from the French word "gris," or gray.  It largely refers to a painting done entirely in a monochromatic color scheme.  Gray is not necessarily the base color used.  Often one may use brown as I have below, in which the painting is technically referred to as brunaille. 
The purpose of a grisaille as a matter of sheer exercise may involve a number of things.  Mainly, it is an academic exercise that can serve two purposes:  1.  To test an artist's understanding of value.  2.  To test an artist's ability to manipulate paint.
Since it is monochromatic, it is not really an exercise in color.  Although, there may be a bit of color manipulation involved.  In a nutshell, the grisaille painting is an exercise in drawing with paint.  Rather than using charcoal or pencil, the medium is oil and a brush.  For the grisailles I've done, it was also an exercise in figure drawing and painting.  I wasn't necessarily concerned about finishing every intricate detail of the figure.  I was mostly interested in painting the poses and gestures, and the general idea of light and shadow shapes.

Female figure grisaille painted sketches
oil on canvas
24x18 inches
So for this grisaille, I painted exclusively female figures.  Part 2 will be the male figure version.  Like this one, it will include a series of figures with one focusing on the torso, and another specifically on the portrait.  I may also incorporate the echo, or "ghost" image as in the top left figure on this painting.  Overall, it will be a similar exercise, and hopefully I can have it posted by next week.

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