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Painting the entire background in first?

Hello. I have my drawing done for my still life and I am about to try my first painting using DMP method and 4th painting ever overall. I am wondering if I should paint the entire background including the table or only paint a little background around the object that I am painting first?


  • Ronlo83

    Either approach is fine. The difficulty with the whole background painted is that it makes access to interior details difficult without smudging background color over everything. I like to be able to use the canvas as a steadying support for accurate edges or small details and that is not possible with a sea of wet paint.

    if you have the patience to wait until the background dries, or if you use acrylic, then this problem won't exist.

    A bridge structure or a mahlstick is useful if you choose the whole background approach.


  • Thank you for the response. I think I will take it one object at a time like I have seen in Mark's videos.
  • On the other hand, if the background and tabletop are dry, it's harder to soften the edges into the background or smooth out the shadows edges on the tabletop. I look forward to seeing your painting.
  • I think it's important to get your background, or a major part of it in place before you get too serious about the rest of your painting.  I studied with a well-known portrait painter some years ago  who held that he never saw a model who affected the background, but that in all cases, every background he saw affected the model/subject.  I use the blocked in background, and other elements of the painting to judge color/value relationships when laying in and painting my main subject.  In my first pass, I try to block in elements in average colors and values knowing that I will modify them later as I tighten my work.
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