There are a number of ways of creating an underpainting and the three most popular are known as Verdaccio, Grisaille, and Bistre or Imprimatura.
For this workshop I am going to use the Bistre/Imprematura method. Bistre is known as the “wipe-out method”. A brown glaze is painted over a white canvas or board and then ‘wiped out’ to create the highlights. The shadows are built up using opaque paint and the half-tones are applied with a little colour on the brush allowing the warmth of the brown to show through the translucent glaze. It is the most appealing of the three techniques because of its simplicity, looseness and warmth. The effect of translucent brown glaze on a white background gives a warm glowing feel as opposed to the cooler Grisaille that mixes black and white whch produces a dead looking painting.