A grisaille painting is painted entirely in shades of grey. This style is often used when making a painting of classical sculpture or as the underpainting for an oil painting that will be finished with coloured glazing layers over the monochrome painting. Grisaille painting has a very long historical tradition and was used often for medieval panel painting.
German oil painter Dirk Schmitt lets us look over his shoulder as he paints a grisaille using his favourite Schmincke Mussini finest artists´ resin-oil colours. For this particular painting he will be starting with a colour-toned ground which will be left visible in some parts so there will be a small amount of colour in the finished grisaille. (‘Grisaille’ is pronounced gri-sigh and rhymes with ‘Versaille’.)
Grisaille painting ‘Mousetrap’ with Mussini resin-oil colours
with Dirk Schmitt
Materials that Dirk Schmitt uses:
Pre-primed canvas (For an absorbent surface you can prepare your own linen canvas and prime with one layer Schmincke Transparent Primer as well as three layers Schmincke Primer 1, allowing all layers to dry in between)
• Da Vinci Maestro 2 oil brush in different sizes, one flat brush
• Schmincke Mussini oil colours: Brown Pink, Atrament, Brownish Grey 1 and Norma Professional Neutral Black
• Schmincke Flake White Hue oil colour
• Schmincke Mussini Medium 3 – accelerates drying
• An object to be painted, here: an old mousetrap
• Small container for the painting medium and cloths
If you use pre-primed canvas, please make sure that the surface is strongly absorbent. This is very important for an oil painting. If necessary you can add absorbency by adding more coats of primer.
Dirk Schmitt is a German artist from Cologne and a painter in the contemporary realism style.
Colouring with Glazes
If you wish to use the grisaille as an underpainting and continue painting it afterwards with coloured glazes, it is best if you let the grisaille dry almost completely. To glaze colour you will need to thin the Mussini paints with a small amount of Transparent paint medium and apply in thin layers. Choosing transparent pigments (rather than opaque earth colours) also helps let the underpainting shine through and the tonal composition remains visible. The effect of light and dark shades, combined with soft colour impressions, gives this way of painting a special look.