A funny thing happened the other day as I was googling through the web universe in search of greater enlightenment on flesh tones… I found a blog post entitled “The Holy Grail for Painting Flesh Tones.” I smiled, took the bait and after (re)reading the post found myself asking what kind of heartless bastard serves up such a promising title only to leave the starry-eyed believer in concrete craft alone in the foggy abyss of theory and performance avoidance?
To which I realized the only answer was to make it up to my starry-eyed self and to anyone else out there searching for what can sometimes seem an impossible question to answer. So here goes…
I was able to print what I think were a couple of pretty good quality photos of the head of Philip IV by Velazquez, though I hope to learn better just how close this next January (and more on that next February).
Below are my notes on the process.
Sept. 3rd, 2011 – First Session
I started with the following palette:
- Yellow Ochre
- Trans Oxide Red
- Titanium White
- Ivory Black
- General Ivory Black
- New Titanium White
Used the Monarch brushes on Belgian canvas from Poggi. Used Doak’s Ivory black for drawing and for the eyes.
End of session observations: Doak’s General Ivory Black is grittier and more purple than Harding’s Ivory Black, which is bluer.
Sept. 5th, 2011 – Second Session
Stef rightly observed that the color was off. There was more green in the image… if the photo is to be believed.
So, added Raw Umber to my palette. Revelation: Raw Umber + Titanium White for flesh!
Used Doak’s Raw Olive Umber Dark for the background.
Sept. 8th, 2011 – Third Session
Continued with Raw Umber, White, Vermilion, Ivory Black… then Doak Gen. Ivory Black and Harding Burnt Umber.
End of session observation: Burnt Umber is definitely the color of the shadows in the eyes.
Sept. 10th, 2011 – Fourth Session
Burnt Sienna, where have you been? How is it I have thought that Trans Oxide Red took your place. Not true. Burnt Sienna is more opaque (obviously) but also more brown, less red. Beautiful when mixed with some Tit. White and Vermilion. This, I think, is the proper flesh palette, together with Raw Umber.
Painted Doak’s Trans Sepia over the olive background.
So, final flesh palette for this painting:
Ivory Black (both Doak and Harding, use the latter for more bluish shades), Titanium White, Raw Umber, Burnt Sienna and Vermilion. Raw Oliver Umber Dark was used only in the background. Note that I never used Yellow Ochre.
To those who felt cheated after reading the first Holy Grail, I hope this has made up for it!