How to Use a Dark Coloured Background. A Winter's Day at the Seaside.

Mary Kemp. A Winter's Day at the Seaside.
Oil on canvas panel 50 x 40 cms.
How do you depict a day that is bright and full of shadow?
I wanted to show this scene as cold and wintery as well as bright and upbeat.  I felt it needed dark tones but also some contrast.
It needed a dark underpainting.
This is how I did it.
Starting with a white canvas panel measuring 40 x 50 cms I drew a rough outline of my main components in black acrylic paint, let that dry , and then using a dilute black, raw umber and a little ultramarine violet acrylic colour I washed all over the surface, a bit raggedy for variety.
I let that dry and began mixing my oil paints.
I used titanium white, cerulean blue, cobalt blue, ultramarine violet, buff titanium, Naples yellow, burnt Sienna and cadmium red, mostly Windsor and Newton artists quality oil paints. Added to that was  turpentine as a painting medium, but hardly at all as I like my paint dry, and flat and filbert brushes with a palette knife.
It was quite a quick painting to complete, mainly because of the black ground which has the great advantage of defining the edges of where you paint. You are never left with a glaring  embarrassment of white with a dark or coloured underpainting.
The sky was mainly cerulean blue with some cobalt at the edges. I had lain down a strip of masking tape to define the horizon. The clouds were put in using a palette knife and firmly dragging it down.
The sea was layers of cobalt blue and ultramarine violet.
The sand was depicted by very dry buff titanium dragged loosely over the dark ground. I painted the figures and their shadows in quickly. I felt it needed sure strokes. Finally I added some burnt Sienna to the sand.
I was pleased that in my mind the picture showed the day I wanted to share.
Please feel free to add any comments or ask any questions.


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