It's All About the Base

Over the years, I've experimented with many different ways of approaching a blank canvas.

There was the drippy phase. The only problem was that I'd get paralysed by the beauty of the drips. I would struggle to cover the drips up yet the paint would be very thin and to me the canvas wouldn't feel finished.


I started combining drips with loose marks but I still kept getting struck, not knowing how to make the painting look finished. While It would sometimes look good in a photograph, in real life it just didn't feel lush and vibrant.


Then I discovered there was a simple solution. What if I started with a flat all-over colour? What if before I start doing those yummy drips and marks I built up a rich base? A good foundation. A solid ground. This has now become my favourite way to start a painting. It's so easy and such a great way to get over the fear of a blank canvas. All you do is grab a big brush, some paint and away you go. There's no need for perfection here because this layer is going to get covered up with more layers. All I try and do is get a fairly even coat all over the canvas. Sometimes I paint the whole canvas with one colour or as in the photo below I might mix a couple of colours together.


Recently, my go-to product for this layer has been Derivan Matisse Background Paint. It's a coloured low-tooth gesso. Even though I use pre-gessoed canvases, I find adding this extra layer of primer really makes a difference. It's such a lovely surface to paint on and it's affordable too. This way you can save your more expensive paint for the final layers.


Of course there is no right way to start a painting and it's only through experimenting that you discover what works for you. I am certainly not ruling out starting canvases in other ways. In-fact one day I'd like to try starting a canvas with a full layer of collage. But for now I am enjoying this way and that's good enough for me!

Back tomorrow Xx