Monday, August 30, 2010

Layins 2

Since I broached the subject last night, tonight I will write briefly about layins. The layin is crucially important and in my opinion far too many "learning" painters rush through it and into the next stages.


Almost every painting presents unexpected problems that need to be solved, there are few perfect locations in this world. If you are going to fight with a painting better sooner than later, and better transparent and monotone than in thick colored paint. A layin doesn't need to be highly finished although often mine are, but all of the gremlins that are going to pop out later need to be discovered and their solutions found. This is like drawing a plan before constructing a house. The last thing you want to do is short the layin for time.

I often spend half of my allotted time for a painting on the layin.

I usually layin paintings in transparent burnt sienna. I can paint in the shapes and if they are off I can remove them with a rag. Until I touch the white, I can push the design around as long as I like. The minute you touch the white, you are "locked down": and into the second and less adjustable phase of a painting.

If you have a monochrome layin right, you can hang your colors on it very quickly. If you have been impatient and rushed the layin, you will lower your batting average. You may chase gremlins about the canvas instead of driving to a finish. If your layin is well made, you can boldly lay your color over top off that and get a look of decision and freshens. A layin that is labored begets a painting that is easy.


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.


Ginny Blakeslee Breen said...

Great painting!

Susan McCullough said...

Wow- gorgeous painting!

Deborah Paris said...

Wise words, Stape. Stay away from the white and get your layin nailed down. I have a video on my blog right now showing my transparent layin which in my case acts as an underpainting. Same process, just a different method of finishing. said...

Whenever I start a painting without a lay in ( I call it an under painting though that may not be technically correct ), I am always sorry. It takes twice as long, more paint and some heart ache without that up front lay in work done.

And likeDeborah, I finish in a different method, using pallet knife and all.

Lesson Learned.

Nancy Goldman said...

Thia is a beautiful painting. Thanks for the reminder about laying in. I tend to be a lazy painter when I use oils and try to speed through the process. Your post has convinced me to change my ways.

willek said...

Terrific post. Very validating as I have come, over the past few years to the same practice. Seems like a lot of the bigs start off this way. (See Deborah Paris's blog today) After the layin, what do you like to do next? Establish the lights? Go after the largest area? Start in the middle? Do you start herding sheep immediately?

billspaintingmn said...

I must meet this Stapleton Kerns.

R Yvonne Colclasure said...

Ditto what Susan said. You make it look so EASY.....I only wish it were.

Lucy said...

There's a great passage in George Inness Writings and Reflections on Art and Philosophy that describes this very process. Inness used raw umber and did add lights because he let the whole thing dry before adding color. Just a slightly different approach.

These two, the lay in and the colored canvas look wonderful. How did you keep the color fresh working into the wet burnt sienna?


I would like to attend your Sept. 25 - 27 workshop at Bass Harbor Campground with another artist friend. We won't be staying at the campground but at a nearby Inn. Can we still sign up and how?

Stephanie Berry said...

Great post--it totally makes sense. I learn so much from your blog and find I refer back to different posts a lot. I'm going to try this on my next landscape. Beautiful painting!

Martyn Chamberlin said...

Interesting Stapleton. I've never spent half the time on a painting sketching the underpainting, though I can see it's value. Drawing is certainly the most important, if most neglected, aspect of painting. You're a really good artist.

Meanwhile, I'm going to email you about something here.

M said...

How can you tell if it's a GOOD lay-in or not? Is it the level of detail or accuracy?

Stapleton Kearns said...


Stapleton Kearns said...

I think you are gorgeous too.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks.How about sending me a link for that?

Stapleton Kearns said...

I habe learned that the hard way.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks. Haste makes waste!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Willek; I will get to that.

Stapleton Kearns said...

I am better imagined than met.

Stapleton Kearns said...

The better you get at it, the harder it becomes.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Lucy; I chose burnt sienna because if some gets up into the paint it usually looks good!

Stapleton Kearns said...

Nora, click on the link at the bottom of the page and sign up. You can stay anywhere you like. Stay at Asticue if you can afford it.

Stapleton Kearns said...

Thanks Ilike to feel useful!

Stapleton Kearns said...

I think that half time on a layin works well, sometimes I do less but .....

Stapleton Kearns said...

I answer your question out front on the blog.