Acrylic Portraits: Painting the Background
Use graduated tones for the background.
The underpainting of the background was done with several thin layers of an opaque light blue whereas the overpainting of the tone was built up from darker glazes of pure colours: Prussian Blue, Ultramarine and Cobalt Blue. Several blues were used to give the monochrome background an added depth of colour. A small amount of Titanium White paint is carefully blended around the edge of the head to increase its contrast with the background.
NB. The background should be painted over the outline of the portrait so that no gaps remain once the figure is completed.
We have used a graduated blue tone for the background for several reasons:
- blue is a colour that naturally recedes into the background.
- its strong tonal contrast dramatically illuminates the figure.
- the graduated tone suggests a depth to the background that extends beyond the perimeter of the portrait.
- blue is also the national colour of Scotland, the home of Robert Burns.
Acrylic Portraits: Background Painting Technique
An actual size detail of the background painting.
Technically, the background was probably the most time consuming part of the picture to paint. We attempted a gradual transition of light to dark tones which could have been applied more evenly with an airbrush, but we wanted the consistent texture of the hand painted marks to unify the technique across the picture. The graduated effect was achieved by using small sable brushes and carefully stippling layers of transparent dark blue glazes over the light blue underpainting.