Oh yes I can!!!! Since working in watercolors, I have become intrigued with the white of the paper as a design element. So much so that I decided to see how an oil painting would look if I worked on white canvas and made the white of the canvas part of the composition. Wait, leave the canvas showing, untoned no less? That’s exactly what I did and am really happy with the result.
In the painting above, I worked on an 8×8 inch white gallery wrap canvas. I did my underpainting in burnt sienna, with a palette of Prussian blue, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow light, cadmium red and titanium white. I treated the subject the same way I would have if I had been working in watercolor, using the white of the canvas as my lightest value. I like the lighter than air feeling that can be achieved with a pure white as part of the composition. I also like the slightly “unfinished” look that working this way has, it’s as if the image just materialized right out of the canvas on its own. It’s fresh and bold, and creates a lot of movement and energy, all things I always strive to impart into my work.
So, the next time you are tempted to break some rules, go ahead!!! You might just come up with a new way of working that livens up your work in an unexpected way.