This step is much simpler to explain in the process, so lucky for all of you this will be a pretty short post! After covering my charcoal drawing with a matte finish spray (my current substitute for just plain old workable fixative), I let it dry and am ready to begin underpainting. For this piece I've decided to employ the "wipe-out" method. It's the first time I've done this, but I really love the result.
First, I cover the entire canvas board with raw umber oil paint straight from the tube with no mineral spirits or paint thinner added (photo number 1.). It's pretty dark, but not too dark that I can't see the drawing underneath. From here on, I take an old cotton t-shirt and begin to wipe away the paint in light areas. That's basically it! I just continue to wipe away paint until I have a complete value rendering on top of which my subsequent paint layers will be applied (photo number 2.). For the brightest areas, you can also dip the paint rag in a little bit of mineral spirits and continue to wipe out the paint. This step altogether took little over an hour.
Next Step: Dead Layer