buildings_01Backgrounds add depth to the painting and transform the two dimensional surface into “3-D”. Here is one approach to painting in backgrounds without any reference. Once you have your drawing established, several transparent washes of acrylic paint. Any color will work, I chose purple for this picture. Let it dry between coats and I usually go over it about three times. I don’t use white paint, just use water for transparent washes. Now looking at step two you may ask, “hey, why do this, you’re just covering it up anyway in the next step?” Your’e right, buuuuuut, that purple will still show through (or whatever color is used) throughout the entire picture and bring harmony as well as add a depth and richness to the color.

buildings_02 Step 2 is still an acrylic phase, but it’s using the local color of the objects and blocking in, without worrying about detail or texture.The purple is allowed to peek through in the deep shadow areas.

buildings_03Step 3 is the oil painting phase, where darks are punched in, texture is added, and lights and that wraps up the background! You can see in the final painting the background really gives the picture depth.

About the Author Kyle Henry

I grew up in the Atlanta, Georgia area (small town called Lithonia to be exact) and started drawing at an early age. After high school, I entered the commercial art program at Pensacola Christian College. There I was able to work as an illustrator in the art studio of A Beka Book, where I worked for 3 years. After graduation I pursued a career of freelance illustration and continued learning my craft by studying with great artists and illustrators both past and present. I am fascinated by light and how it relates to edges and color. My goal is that each of my paintings capture the emotion of the subject, and not just the mere superficial facts. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if I can help in any way.

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