A few posts ago in"Painting Out - Sort of"- I talked a bit about the benefit of a simple window view as a starting place for plein air work.
These 5 minute, 6"x 8" class demos use the same window view and simple composition to address 4 basic methods for laying-in a painting.
In the demo at the top I used the DIRECT method; opaque paint directly on to the white canvas.
The lower three employ different versions of the INDIRECT method. This refers to the use of an under painting which is paint mixed with thinner and used as a wash to cover the canvas and establish the major masses before going in with heavier, more opaque paint to bring a piece to finish.
In the second demo, I used a "Value" under painting of dark paint, mine is a mixture of Utramarine and Alizarin Crimson, to indicate major masses and establish a value pattern of dark and light. When the heavier paint was added on top, thin passages were left to add dimension.
The third piece has a "Complement" under painting, using washes of color complementary to what the final colors are to be. The complementary under painting shows through in places and adds excitement to the piece.
At the bottom I used a "Light/Dark" under painting, simply washing the major masses in a pattern of light and dark with 2 colors. The colors will serve as a guide to the pattern of dark and light masses.
These terse little demos show how different methods can make for big differences in the look of a piece. As well, good under painting (- good, not tight) can do a lot of the heavy lifting in a piece. Once the canvas has been COVERED with some kind of wash under painting, the opaque paint does the job of defining the subject instead of working to cover the canvas.
The INDIRECT method has been around for centuries. I put a more contemporary spin on it in my landscape work with the use of bright colors to indicate the pattern of light or add drama and excitement to major masses.
There is no wrong answer here, just different approaches.
Need a change? Try a new method and see where it leads.