Here's a second part to a Still life onion, demonstration from my easel. This is the umber under layer (or brown underpainting) that provides me of the total contrast of the painting. It also is the first step in establishing those wonderful half tones and shadows you'll complete in the dead, or gray layer. Now there are two ways this can be approached. This part of the painting can be painted with a great amount of accuracy, or you can paint it with less details and make the entire painting really blurred or out of focus. In later layers you can then "tighten it up" or make things more focused.
My recommendation is to follow like I have done here and make it pretty tight. Later, as you learn the technique better, this layer can be more loosely done.
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Continue on to the Gray Layer of this Still Life Onion Demonstration