Monday, January 15, 2007

Fond Brun

My painting, Multi-colored Garden, in progress. You can see the pinkish purple background color "fond brun." Painting on this toned canvas was very soothing.

What is "fond brun?" Karina gave me a lovely book for Christmas, Van Gogh's Gardens. In it there were beautiful pictures of gardens recreated from the descriptions of gardens in Vincent Van Gogh's letters.
I've always been curious about the paints and techniques of van Gogh, and I found a great website, Vincent van Gogh Paintings Project, that describes his techniques very well. I never knew this, but he favored the standard, machine-made, finely woven linen canvases (portrait linen) that were toned with "fond brun violet" (normal in those days), consisting of white, carmine and traces of light-yellow.

To recreate the effect, I gessoed my canvas with a mixture of acrylic gesso tinted with alizarin crimson and cadmium yellow acrylics. I've been lucky enough to see a few original van Gogh paintings in museums, and I've always wondered how his canvases got that pinkish orange tone. (You can see it in places where his brush strokes didn't completely cover the canvas.) Now I know!
The finished painting.

A detail.

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