I got this question in the comments.
How can you tell if it's a GOOD lay-in or not? Is it the level of detail or accuracy?
The layin doesn't need much detail, so that isn't it. Accuracy would imply a level of transcription rather than design. Sometimes accuracy is important, but often the hard parts are those which need to be invented. Often there is a problem in the landscape. Some common problems are
- If I painted this accurately it would be a 10 by 60, because the landscape is so spread out. I will need to compress it to get all of the things out there that I want onto my canvas.
- This is a great view but I want to leave out the insecticide refinery, how am I going to do that and have the painting still look natural?
- I don't want that stream to carry the viewer out of the painting on the left.
- The mountains don't look big enough.
- Its way too dark out there, I need to lighten this up a bit.
- Nothing is leading the viewer into this picture.
- Everything out there is the same size.
- Its too stripey, every line runs horizontally across the canvas.
I got this question over on facebook:
Do you lay in with Liquin mixed with your burnt sienna? I lay in with just yellow ochre and get really annoyed when it mixes with other colors
in a way I did not intend!
Another reader answered beautifully, saying;
One of Stapleton's key points here, I think, is to keep it TRANSPARENT, almost watercolor-like, in the lay-in stage. One you've introduced an opaque color it becomes another beast entirely, and suddenly you're committed to pushin' all that opaque pigment around. If you like the tone of ochre, you might swap out your ochre for either Raw Sienna (PBr 7) or Mars Yellow (PY 42).
I might add only this, I don't think yellow is a very good color for layins. I know some fine painters who do, but I believe it is a problem maker and I think the writer above has encountered the problem that a yellow layin engenders . When we do a layin or underpainting, (which is probably as good a word for that which I am recommending) We are delineating the darks. Our greatest amount of pigment goes into our darkest notes. Yellow is a color more usually found in the lights, in fact it is the opposite of the color that most characterizes shadows outdoors, violet. If that yellow gets up into your shadow notes it will create problems, just as if you layed (laid? I don't know if I can use this spelling as a special painting word, or not. If you are an editor, or proofreader let me know the answer to that, remember I dropped out of high school ) in your lights with a dark purple, it will be hard to strike a clean note over it.
I do use some liquin in my layin. It might be better from an archival standpoint not to. But I do.
I will be holding a three day workshop at the Bass Harbor Campground in Bass Harbor, Maine. the 25-26-27th of September. That's Saturday-Monday. We will paint outside and I will teach beginners to experts the art of outdoor landscape painting.
Here is a link to where you can sign up
Reservations at the Bass Harbor campground can be made here.