The Art of Grisaille

Grisaille, a term first used in the mid-19th century, comes from the French word gris, meaning grey. It is a form of painting that uses mostly grey monochrome, or varying shades of a single color.

The image above is just one example of a gradient map. Once the element of light and value is explored throughly the amount of values created can be endless.

The style of grisaille was often used as a painting technique to capture the same look and texture of a statue or sculpture. With its monochromatic light and shadow, it created the illusion that one could reach into the painting and feel stone. 

Yet another use for grisaille was to map out an oil painting, or create a monotone underpainting for translucent oil paints to layer on top. This created a depth for oil painters, which lent itself to a more dramatic finish, with an emphasis on deep shadow and shimmering light.

Grisaille a style with old roots, is still a lovely way to achieve that three-dimensionality every painter and artist craves. 

Give life to this beautiful technique and learn to paint the body in our

Figure Studies in Grisaille class for both Teens and Adults. Check out more artwork created by artist Chrissanth Gross, by clicking here.

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Olivia Ferreiro

Olivia Ferreiro Author

Growing up with parents that are artists has surrounded me with a constant feed of creative energy. As a child, every day was a new project, allowing my older brother and I to use the walls of our every home as a blank canvas, whether we were aware of it or not. Spending my younger years in California made me a flower child that could never lose her youth, even with the passing of time. Coming back to New York as an adult made me discover my roots, beyond café con leche for breakfast and Cuban music always playing in our car. And going to the University of Colorado: Boulder to study writing kept me bold and curious, reminding me that the world is a lot bigger than I ever could have imagined.

I'd like to think that I have my father's obsession with precision, and my mother's desire to be free-spirited. And although I did not study to pursue art on a professional level, I have always been an artist in all that I do.