Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Flesh II

John De La Vega:

For fair light skin tones, especially in the lighter areas, I DO NOT recommend using any of the Cad Reds, including Vermillion. The reason is that the Cads do not really mix well with white. The cads are great as modifiers in those subtle mixtures for transition areas where the form / light changes very delicately, on the smallish planes, and for glazes and feathery scumbles (ah, transitions and edges, one of the main themes of my next book, which I seem to be writing right here).

Nothing wrong with a base of some yellow and some red for the light skin which we can then modify at will depending upon illumination, skin color, etc. The red I use is Rose, and the yellow I use is Naples Deep. A delightful, smiling woman in one of my last workshops said "I only use Rose when I paint flowers'. Rose and Naples, of course, already have some white in them, and they mix beautifully together and with white and other yellows and reds, as long as they are together to begin with. As anybody who paints knows, mixing goes on constantly. The trick is to keep color clean by smart and controlled mixing strategies. Best Rose: Old Holland Schveningen Rose Deep (expensive). Best Naples Yellow Deep (you guessed it): Old Holland (not expensive). A beautiful, not expensive Rose is Rowney Rose, made by Daler-Rowney. Unless you happen to be painting in Bangladesh, and ran out of Old Holland Naples Deep, why not use the best?

I also DO NOT recommend the use of Burnt Umber, or any browns for that matter (with the exception of Burnt Sienna, judiciously), on ANY part of the skin, including shadows. Even in those 'dead' shadows and 'dead' middle tones (if there is such a thing, which I suppose depends on the blimey light or, our capacity to see how light creates movement and vibration even in the shadows), using browns such as Burnt Umber is a recipe to end up with Henry's worst mud.

We should also remember that 'painting what we see' in the way of color is NOT always the best artistic strategy, no matter how realistically we wish to paint, especially in the first stages of the painting. One of the most important things I learned from the great Nelson Shanks is "Start Bright! (high chroma, even on the garish side)". As subtle modeling and refining progresses, color will find its way to reality, if 'local' color, vibrant or dull, is what you're intent on seeing and painting

I mix my browns with Rose, Alizarin (or Carmin Lake, a better Old Holland Alizarin) and bright or not so bright yellowish Greens, even an occasional smidget of Ultramarine, Cobalt, Magenta (I highly recommend Maimieri Puro Verzino Violet, a fabulous, rich, inexpensive Magenta ), or Dioxazine Mauve, adding cads and other reds as needed, for maximum VIBRANCY in the shadows. If there is a formula for color, whether on flesh, an apple, or a sunset, the recipe is simple:


VIBRATION is, after all, in the very nature of light and, come to think of it, in the very nature of form itself(eternal dance of the atoms and molecules). Nobody understood this better than the Impressionists. They changed our vision and how we deal with color as painters and art lovers forever.

Next chapter: Ah, those middle tones! or, as my friend and fellow Sorolla lover the late Adrian Hernandez, a wonderful pastellist, once remarked as he looked at one of my pastels: "How to you make those darn things (the middle tones) look light and dark at the same time?"

Fair Skin Light Areas = Reddish Whites or Yellowish Whites.
Red = Rose (Old Holland Schveningen Rose Deep or Daler-Rowney Rowney Rose)
Yellow = Naples Yellow Deep (Old Holland Naples Yellow Deep)

Mix browns from Reds + Greens/Blues/Magenta--NOT Burnt Umber!
(judicious use of Burnt Sienna okay)

Fair Skin Shadow Areas = Reds + Yellowish Greens + Blue/Purple as needed
Old Holland Schveningen Rose Deep
Alizarin Crimson (Old Holland Crimson Lake)
Old Holland Carmine Lake (better Alizarin)
yellowish greens
Magenta (Maimieri Puro Verzino Violet; OH Magenta)
Old Holland Dioxazine Mauve (or less-$ dioxazine purple)

Old Holland Schveningen Rose Deep
Old Holland Naples Yellow Deep
Old Holland Carmine Lake
Maimieri Puro Verzino Violet

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