I’ve sort of given up on the idea of ‘the underpainting.’
It does a disservice to the painting process when the beginning of the painting is simply referred to as an underpainting as if the real serious painting will start later.
We might say ‘i just need to get the underpainting in. This is just the underpainting. I will figure it out later.’
It is dismissive. It is as if it’s just a prelude. An appetizer to be consumed and tossed aside.
But it is more than that: it is muddled brush strokes and working it out. It is finding the fine edge and the soft cascade of color that pours out of your brush. These are just part of the process of making the painting and no part should be dismissed or approached with less presence.
Every brushstroke of every layer is the painting. There’s no part of the painting that’s not the painting. Every mood and moment matters to the finished piece. Study your brush strokes. Each part is to be savored.
Certainly there is a last and final brush stroke and perhaps everything is underpainting to that final brush stroke.