Step Two: Underpainting

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Step Two of my process is the underpainting. I don't worry about values in this stage, just colors. I fill in each space with the complementary color of what the final color will be (for instance, blue water gets painted orange, green trees get painted red, etc). It's another step where I like to simplify the shapes and look at the whole picture overall. I'll make decisions about neutral colors (grays, whites, blacks, browns) based on what's around it and what I want to contrast it against and then push them to one of the six basic colors. In the final painting, I love how these bright colors show through (and even some of the black underpainting). If a yellow or orange is too translucent (or a purple is too dark), I'll mix it with white, but everything else is just straight out of the tube. It always looks pretty psychedelic at this stage, but I love getting paint on the board and seeing it start to come together. This is another time when I work in batches and line a whole bunch of paintings up on my table and then fill in the yellow on all of them (and then the next color, etc). I also often change colors from the reference photos (like someone's clothing or something) if I can see that one area is too similar. Once they dry I start step three...