Direct Painting vs. Indirect Painting

Direct Acrylic Painting vs. Indirect Acrylic Painting

Direct painting, as the name implies, is a direct approach to applying color. It’s how most of us first approach painting. We see a color or value in the subject, recognize the shape it makes, and then apply the color to the surface.

Direct painting differs from another process called “indirect painting”. With indirect painting, the values are addressed first. Usually this is accomplished by creating an underpainting with monochromatic tones. If the underpainting is created using a grayscale of values, this is referred to as “grisaille”.

Grisaille paintings can stand on their own as finished works, but often transparent glazes are applied over the top. The glazes of color that are applied over the underpainting affect the perceived color without changing the value much. This approach allows the artist to separate the painting into two distinct processes. One in which the values are addressed and a second in which the colors are addressed.