An example here of how I typically utilise this 15th Century technique.

A detailed drawing is made onto a handmade stretched canvas surface, which itself has received a minimum of 4 layers of gesso primer.


The process starts with 1. Imprimatura (a flat transparent or semitransparent underpainting) to harmonize colors and allow for more accurate judgment of the values or tones.


With the under painting dry, with the drawing intact, a number of 2. Umber Layers are made, using a single earth colour (such as Raw Umber with White) to develop mass and tone.


Once the result of this stage is dry, the 3. ‘Grisaille’ or Dead Layer is applied: I typically use mix of Raw Umber, Ultramarine, Cadmium Yellow and White to produce a neutral monotone image ready to take the final 4. Colour Layers


Some of the great historical painters who pioneered this technique are Johannes Van Eyck (1390-1441) and Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543). Time consuming the technique may be....... but what's time anyway?