I accidentally bought more white paint than I need. And now I’ve decided that my mistake was a boon. I’m adding lots of white to all the colors in the underpainting and producing a kind of multicolored grisaille when I do a lay-in on the koi paintings. The lighter colors are kind of pretty in their own right: I’m wondering if sometime I should do a few “grisaille” koi paintings. But for now these tints form the substrate for a full colored painting that will go on top.
The grisaille is exceedingly useful. First off, it is very forgiving. Let’s say that a koi has to be nudged over a little from this spot to that one. Because the principle colors of these pictures — blue and orange — are optically opposite, over-painting between the colors gets tricky. But a grisaille takes the edge off painting with opposites. If the paints are still wet when I make the changes, then the areas where they unavoidably mix just turn to nice shades of pale grey. And once it’s all dried, ’tis an easy matter to paint over a pale orange with a full blue, or paint a full orange over a pale blue, and not have the oppositions of color impose their tyrannies.
Of course, if you like the tyranny, there’s always still the option of letting blue and orange go to war — later on — if that’s what rocks your mind. Either way, the delicacy of the initial pale colors lets all kinds of possibilities erupt — anything from the most delicate diplomacy to full-scale color war. Meanwhile, the koi seem to enjoy this adventure in paleness. They like it so much that they’re thinking of turning themselves into metaphors.
Above is one of the little scribbly drawings I make to put myself in koi painting mood.