Technique Tuesday: Toned Canvas
What you do before you begin working on your composition as a painter will help you succeed. One simple thing I do is tone my canvas before I paint. Why? Because as an artist my goal when I am painting is to create not to cover every square inch of canvas with paint. However, when flowing in that you will leave canvas uncovered, if its white canvas showing through it will affect the entire painting. So, I begin with the decision up front of whether or not the painting I’m going to work on is cool or warm and I tone accordingly.
Living in the desert S.W., so many of the landscape that I paint are warm, so I often tone my canvases with Burt Sienna. I use an acrylic color and paint over it with oils. (It won’t work if you use oil paint to tone and paint over it with acrylic, it will peal so beware.) I like to use acrylic as the tone because once I start laying on the oil paint I will often scrape and I want to be able to scrape back down to the pure color of my toned canvas . If I am painting a winter scene I might tone the canvas with French Ultramarine to get the overall piece to read as cool. Toning allows me to leave bits and pieces uncovered and yet they add to the painting rather than distracting and it keeps me headed in the right direction of the piece being warm or cool overall.
An added bonus is that I like to sign my paintings by scraping my signature into the paint, so I simply use the back side of my brush and sign through the oil paint down to the toned canvas. Toning your canvas is a great way to lay a foundation for a successful painting before you ever get to the compostion!