I transferred my drawing to the canvas, using a tracing I made. See Transferring the Drawing to the Canvas for details. After that was done, I went over the lines with pencil on the canvas again, while observing the set-up, making corrections, as always. It still amazes me that I have to correct the drawing at every stage of the drawing and painting process, but I’ve found that it is so! After spraying a very light bit of fixative onto the canvas, I mixed 9 values of a lead white and burn sienna mixture. The lightest was white, the darkest, a mid-tone pure burnt sienna. I won’t need anything darker, because I like to keep the underpainting lighter than the finished image. I find that the colors in the finished painting look more vibrant on a lighter ground.
My aim is to cover the canvas with a very thin layer of paint, keeping the edges sharp, so that I don’t lose my drawing. Even edges that will be soft later are kept sharp here. This underpainting will serve as my guide when I begin painting. I don’t worry about details, such as indicating textures or subtleties, since this under-layer will be almost entirely covered with subsequent layers of paint. Also, I’m hardly ready to think about details at this early stage!
I add no medium to my paint, except occasionally when it is too thick to paint a clear edge. If that happens, I dilute the paint with just a bit of turpenoid. I paint everything several values lighter than it will be in the finished painting.
It will take me a few more days to complete the underpainting, and then maybe a week for it to dry completely, so that I can begin to really paint!