Wednesday, February 8, 2017

How to Block-in a Painting with Primary Colors

Hill Country Scene (Underpainting). Artist Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2017. All Rights Reserved. 

Hello all! As many of you know, I am a visual artist and one of my goals with this blog is to provide free tutorials about the fundamentals of painting. I seek to inspire those around me to be creative in their daily life—to try something that they might have never tried before. I love the creative process and the thrill of finding a new technique or approach to this art form, and I am excited to share such a process with you all today! 

What does it mean to block-in a painting? When you block-in a painting, the artist creates an "underpainting" layer, placing the warms (yellows and reds) and cools (blues) first, establishing the overall of composition. Warm colors tend to move forward towards the viewer, while cool colors tend to pull backward away from the viewer - I'll get back to this idea in a moment. For example, in a landscape, I would mark out my horizon line (where the sky meets the ground), place the general shapes of my clouds, background trees, and fields. It's a good idea to place the cool colors (blue) at the most distant point in your painting and then to have the warmer colors (reds and yellows) closer to the front. This can be mirrored in the clouds overhead. 

Do note that this technique works best when working with acrylic paint, this is similar to the traditional approach of oil painting (a wet-on-wet technique—although you usually use more than just the primary colors when working with oils), and would not work effectively in watercolors. 

Once you have the entire canvas filled with paint, take a hair-dryer and completely blow dry the acrylic paint. You can then hang it as is, sort of a modern abstracted landscape, or move on to the next step of starting a new layer using a wider palette of colors: greens, greys, browns, etc... Because you started with the pure colors underneath, this method will add a richness to the finished result that is often lacking in acrylic paintings.   

Check out this painting video where I demonstrate this block-in technique: 

"How To Block-in a Painting with Primary Colors."
 A Painting Tutorial by Artist Charles Wolf. 
Impulsive Artistry © 2017. All Rights Reserved. 


Bright Brush
Filbert Brush
3 Inch Brush
Liner Brush
Palette (Cardboard)
Easel or Flat Surface
Canvas Board, 14x18 Inches
Drop Cloth
Paper Towel

Acrylic Paint:

Cobalt Blue
Naples Yellow
Naphthol Crimson
Mars Black
Titanium White

If you would like to see more of my painting videos you can on my YouTube painting channel here: 

Impulsive Artistry YouTube Link! 

Thank you for viewing my work today. Please feel free to ask me any questions about my art, this approach, how to get started in painting or something else... I would love to talk to you about it in the comment section below! 

Have a fantastic creative week,


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