This is an excercise on trying to get depth in the fur. I've had this reference for a long time, think it was from Wildlife Reference. I just loved the gaze of this Snow Leopard, I thought it had something about it. Choosing the right reference is really important in my book. You need something that you can bring out of the canvas. It's not a big one its just over 30 x 40 cm as you can see but it gives me enough scope to try for the real depth.
My underpainting style has come from watercolours I think. I use white spirit to thin my paint out as you would use water to thin watercolours out. I am at my most happiest with this method. I cant cope with slapping the paint on all over and seeing what you get.
Im a real control freak as far as that is concerned . The underpainting isn't about the detail its about the presence and the tones......the light source and the shadows....I know from the underpainting if I am going to actually 'feel' the painting. Even with my commissions , the underpainting is very important. It gives me the knowledge I need to go further with the actual oils. My technique is rather like doing a pencil study with the tones.
My canvas is tinted with acrylic so i already have a light-mid tone... then I start to work in with oil Raw Umber and white spirit to create a monochrome image. No colour, so there is nothing to distract me from getting the form of my subject . Bright highlights are put in using Titanium White.
This is then left to dry for a couple of days until the oil painting layer starts .