Monday, February 4, 2013

Technique Talk: Grisaille

By Judy Thomas
The many purposes of this blog include exploring ideas, sharing techniques, asking questions and, of course, sharing our work.  I am interested in grisaille (pronounced "gree SIGH ul" though some say "grizzle"), after I saw a lovely example of it in the journal of the Colored Pencil Society of America, "The The Point" (June, 2012). Grisaille is used to refer either to a monochromatic work, either in all grays or sepia, or to and underpainting or underdrawing of such, where color is later laid over top.  The second use is what I want to learn.  We all do something similar to grisaille when we make a graphite value study, but this technique goes one step further in layering color.  Done poorly, it can be muddy. Done well, grisaille can lend an incredible depth and sensitivity to your work. It is definitely a skill I want to acquire. 
Examples of classical, monochromatic grisaille can be found at:
Also, look at the following for the process to layer color:
Wendy Hollender, the colored pencil botanical artist, often uses grisaille.  See her work at:

Luckily, we in VA have the opportunity to learn this technique in a class taught by Celeste Johnston at Ginter Botanical Garden. Her "Plant Portraits" class, will run four Wednesdays, starting Feb. 20.  From the website:  "Capture the beauty of plants by combining an old master technique, grisaille under- painting, with botanical traditions of drawing, shading, layering color and adding fine details. Students will experience working with washes, graded washes and dry-brush methods. Watercolor and colored pencil may be used."
To register, go to:

"The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude."
Friedrich Nietzsche 

No comments:

Post a Comment