Author: Robert_Roberts, Contributing Editor
|~~~~~ INTRODUCTION ~~~~
In figurative art, achieving convincing skin tones is one of the most challenging tasks the artist must confront. And while an artist has a unique style, there are some underlying principals that are basic to understanding what makes skin look luminous instead of flat.
This brief article shows the work of three artists, with tips in their own words for achieving the luminous skin. Although the examples and tips are for oil painters, the principals are the same for any of the color media.
This is not a tutorial, and does not explore topics such as what palette colors to use. The following WetCanvas! articles and threads are recommended reading:
Setting a Palette with the Portrait Colors
Skin Tones Portrait Classroom
Portrait Classroom : Shadows
~~~~ PAULINE ADAIR ~~~~
|Light Sleeper : Oil on Panel 66cm x 45cm (26 x 18 inches)|
|HEAT : Oil on Canvas 110cm x 60cm (43 x 24 inches)|
|To begin with, remember: Skin Tones are not Skintones!
A tube of so-called Flesh Tint will not do the job. You would have to mix it with other colours, so don't rely on it.
Skin has so much going on around it and inside it. It reflects so many colours of the surrounds or clothing, especially in the shadows. The secret lies in the values of those colours. Make colours more intense to make an area come forward, and subdue colours as they recede.
Choose any colour to begin the painting, perhaps a colour from the background, and build your skin upon this, working from dark to light (if using oils), and leaving some of the background colour in the skin's shadows. This will hold the painting together tonally.
Observation is the key here, then interpretation. Observe reflected colours in the skin. Look hard for them. Sometimes these can be successfully exaggerated to achieve a believable roundness.
A good trick to find these reflected lights is to look at the form shadows where a part of the body curves round away from the light source. Notice that the shadow is darkest nearer the light, then find those reflected shadows in the lighter areas of the shadow. Luminosity results!
Lastly, take out any hard lines you don't need. Be quite ruthless about this! Do you really need all that information? And take it easy with white highlights. Ideally, the lightest light and the darkest dark should meet to form the focal point of the painting which, incidentally, should not be in the centre of the painting.
About Pauline Adair:
Pauline Adair works from her home studio located on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia. Since 1990, Pauline has exhibited in numerous galleries and art shows in and around Brisbane, winning over 30 art awards for portraits, landscapes and figurative works.
Visit Pauline Adair's homepage
~~~~ PHILIPPE DE SMEDT ~~~~
|Untitled Seated Figure : Oil on Canvas 80cm x 100cm (31 x 40 inches)|