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Introduction
A Series of Colored Patches
Painting in Reserve
Layering the Paint
Setting the Scene
The Role of Underdrawing
Rhythm of Execution
Fully Realized from the Start
Integrating the Ground - Cézanne
Integrating the Ground - Pissarro
 
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Integrating the Ground - Cézanne


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The ground, that is, the base coat of color on the canvas, can also be an essential building block in the composition. In fact, the ground is sometimes as fundamental as an underdrawing in its ultimate influence on the composition. In several paintings from 1881 Cézanne integrates the ground into the final composition. In some of the paintings he uses it quite extensively, while in others it plays a subtle but essential role as a color. Perhaps his most obvious use of this technique is in Turning Road, Auvers-sur-Oise (c. 1881). The flickering highlights throughout the painting are the light, cream-colored ground left entirely uncovered by paint. These numerous unpainted passages are similar in size and shape to the applied brush marks, thus appearing as marks themselves.

In Bridge and Dam, Pontoise (1881) Cézanne integrates the ground into the final composition in a more restrained way. Some of the trees and shrubs evidence these discrete, clipped flashes of ground, again appearing as much like marks as the neighboring strokes of paint. Cézanne used varied facture in this painting, placing washes down in some passages and then painting more thickly on top of those. Yet even in these washes the ground shows through, although in a more atmospheric, muted way.