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