Sunday, February 2, 2014

Grisaille (Steve Reddy Workshop, Day 1)

2/1/14 Uniball Vision waterproof pen, India ink grisaille, Van Gogh watercolors,
Canson mixed-media paper (second painting)
Grisaille (pronounced griˈzī) is a painting term that I had never heard of until I talked to Steve Reddy at a sketchcrawl one day. When I viewed his new book, I got to see hundreds of examples of how he uses the grisaille technique that he learned as an oil painter and now applies to urban sketches and other watercolor paintings. And this weekend I got to learn the technique first-hand from Steve at his Gage workshop, “Illustrative Drawing.”

Yesterday morning we used crosshatching to practice identifying values. A long table in front of us was set up with huge piles of stuff from the shelves in the drawing studio to provide endless still lifes. (It was exactly the kind of miscellaneous, random stuff that Steve loves to sketch at thrift shops.)

2/1/14 Uniball Vision waterproof pen, India ink grisaille,
Van Gogh watercolors (value study and first painting)
In the afternoon we took our first shot at using grisaille ala Steve Reddy: varying dilutions of India ink that would dry permanently so that watercolor could be applied afterwards. (I meant to take a picture of my drawing after the grisaille had been applied but before color, but I forgot. See the next post for an example that I remembered to photograph.) Steve says of this technique, “Black does the work, but color takes the credit.” We also practiced Steve’s recommended style of composition that reveals as little negative space as possible – objects filling the entire compositional “frame” (at left).

The sketch at the top of this post was my second try at using grisaille with paint, but this time the composition style is more traditional (I cropped off the round object on the right digitally.)

2/1/14 Uniball Vision pen (value study with crosshatching)


  1. Interesting technique and you did a good job with the sketches! I'd heard of Grisaille in medieval book arts... I've seen some illuminated manuscripts decorated with only Grisaille paintings.

  2. How great that you took a workshop! Sounds like an interesting technique, which I hadn't heard about before. I'll have to check out your link to him. These look nice. I like how he had you fill the space.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...