Robert D'Arista, Monotype

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Working on Toned Grounds

Drawing on a toned ground is an old technique that has been knocking around in the history of drawing since the invention of paper. Unlike drawing on white paper, the half-tone ground allows the draftsman to compare values in the subject with the value of the ground, applying both darker and lighter values to develop the drawing.

Making a toned ground is simple. Traditional methods include staining the paper with tea, or laying a watercolor wash over the page. Acrylic paint can be used to tint gesso applied to paper or other surfaces. Toned papers and drawing supports of all sorts are available from art material suppliers. The range of materials that can be used on a toned ground are nearly infinite: charcoals, chalks, crayons, pastels, colored pencils, gouache and other paints...

In the album below are great examples of the toned ground approach, beginning with Michelangelo's teacher, Ghirlandaio, and ending with contemporary artists who are using the technique in new ways.

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