View Full Version : Setting A Palette with Portrait Colors

06-23-2000, 11:56 PM
Hey gang - don't miss this lesson:

Rob is a very talented artist, with a knack for educating others. He has expressed an interest in publishing additional articles and lessons here at WetCanvas! - so, let's hear that feedback. http://www.wetcanvas.com/ubb/biggrin.gif


06-24-2000, 01:22 AM
Hey Scott,
I found it and read it and hope to put it into practice soon too. This is what
I for one need. Portraits confuse me totally.
Thanks Robert!

06-26-2000, 11:20 AM
This is wonderful! Thanks Robert.. I have been painting portraits, all self taught. I am always looking for new resources to help me improve. This is very helpful! Thank for sharing with all of us.

06-26-2000, 04:40 PM
For a pallette for portraiture in acrylics what colours should I use

06-27-2000, 11:42 AM
Rob - thank you for your presentation on organizing a portrait palette. I found your examples and comments helpful.

06-28-2000, 11:54 AM
Thank you for the kind comments.

As for setting a palette with acrylics, it would dry up before you had it set.

Cennini Forum http://studioproducts.com/forum/forum.html

06-30-2000, 11:41 PM
My son has a cool (winter) complexion so I used a blue underpainting for the shadows on his face. My daughter has an warm (autumn) complection so I used a green underpainting for the shadow areas on her face. I was just wondering if you have ever tried this? I was happy with the way it worked for me. I also use a very limited set pallet now. One white, one red, one blue, and one dark brown. It seems that I can mix what ever I need from these and it makes the painting more cohesive.

07-01-2000, 08:09 AM
If I am painting a woman with pale translucent skin, I will work with a greenish underpainting. The brighter the green, the lighter the skin tones.

Underpainting in this or that color is okay if you are a timid painter afraid of opaque paint, but I draw my main inspiration from Rubens. He knocked in a warm brown underpainting that had scrubbed-in shadows. He then proceeded to carefully select the correct color and place it in the right spot. That's what John Sargent did too.

The truth is that you can use opaque paints to get transparent and delicate shadows. That's the sign of a real painter, knowing how to create the illusion of transparency through correct color choice and edge control. If you look at the magnificently transparent and brilliant gems painted by Ingres, you will see that they are all opaque. He simply starts with a hard edge and models it quickly, Voila!, he has a gemlike gem rather than some glazed thing that looks as though it was composed of clear jelly.

The abrupt break from opaque paint to underlying thin paint always cause they eye to rebel. Learning to corectly observe the Values, is the most important thing in portraiture. After that, the colors more an intellectual choice than one based in the senses.

Cennini Catalogue http://studioproducts.com/quickcatalog/catalogframes.html

Joe Cartwright
07-02-2000, 04:18 AM
Thanks Robert,
A great article. I learnt a great deal from your practical advice. Thanks again.


07-05-2000, 09:39 AM
Glad to help, Joe. There really are no secrets in art. Everything has a method that works. Once you learn the method you can make your own variations and modifications, but first things first...learn the basic methods. That's all that demonstration is -- basic method.

Cennini Catalogue http://studioproducts.com/quickcatalog/catalogframes.html

07-27-2000, 01:57 AM
Wow! Rob! What a great lesson. I printed it out immedeatley. I am currently working on my very first portrait (self) & can't believe how much i am enjoying the process! I don't know why i've always been so intimidated by the mere thought of it. Now i believe i want to do many more. These 'tips' are exactly what i needed at this time. Thanks! Cheryl

01-09-2001, 01:38 PM
muddy faces..
that's what I have on an oil painting that I started a long time ago..needless to say it sits packed and unfinished. What can I do to save the faces that have so much oil paint on them that has become muddy?????

everywhere I see art!
my pages..brag..brag..brag

01-09-2001, 09:25 PM
Very class act Rob.....!! Excellent!
Darn...makes me feel fortunate to associate with some very good artists and be a part of Wetcanvas.....


"Painting is easy when you don't know how, but very difficult when you do!" Edgar Degas

01-10-2001, 01:31 AM
rob...i've started using transparent oxide red or venetian red instead of burnt sienna because i seem to get an ugly pinkish clay color. any particular burnt sienna that you use? or is it my white? i usually use flake white or silver white for portraits....

01-17-2001, 01:05 AM

Try using something other than earths for your base color if you're after really clean skin tones. Try: Naples/Vermilion/Flake or Lead-Tin Yellow/Vermilion/Flake. These work very well on top of a silvery gray(very cool), or green earth mixed with white underpainting.

Give it a try!

01-18-2001, 12:03 AM
Great tutorial! I've never seen a palette laid out like as shown in the tutorial with all the colors neatly mixed and laid out like that in the middle instead of having a kinda messy swirly section of all sorts of colors! Is that how your palette usually looks?

I've always wanted to try making a palette that looks like that, with many tones and colors all mixed before the paint session! I didn't want to get slowed down by mixing all the time during the paint session and also I wanted to have all the colors planned out ahead of time so I could focus purely on the colors before the painting. I always thought that painters just squeezed out the tube colors and then mixed during the session in swirly 'pools' of color, and thus that's how I've been working up until now, though I've always felt that I need to plan more on the colors used in my paintings, and get frustrated when I have to stop to mix a shadow tone or a highlight or something like that. I would like to have the colors pre-mixed and devote my concentration purely on the application of the colors during the paint session.

How do you thoroughly mix a color on a palette without losing a lot of the paint? When I use a brush and spend some time mixing a few colors together, I want to get a thorough and even mix and usually end up absorbing so much paint on the brush that I waste a lot of paint. I try to squeeze it back out, but usually I just create a mess. I tried using a palette knife to mix once since it's easy to just wipe or scrape the paint back on to the palette without wasting any, but it's hard to get a thorough mix with it.

[This message has been edited by Dudi (edited January 18, 2001).]

01-26-2001, 07:38 PM
dgreene72 - You might think about not using white - use yellow instead. The more white you use the pastier it will get, but light is yellow tones not white. I studied with Ray Vinella and he would not let us use white. The yellow makes it glow.

01-26-2001, 07:48 PM
Originally posted by Marilee:
dgreene72 - You might think about not using white - use yellow instead. The more white you use the pastier it will get, but light is yellow tones not white. I studied with Ray Vinella and he would not let us use white. The yellow makes it glow.

hmmmm...that seems odd to me. after all you can mix white and any yellow-the cads, yellow ochre, cobalt yellow to arrive at skin tones. what yellow do you use? i've used naples some, but for some skin tones i want to get, it is too gray. i don't know of any other yellow that is light enough without white. and what do you use for highlights? my basics for skin tones are white (flake and sometimes silver white), cad yellow med, cad red light and vermillion. sometimes i substitute yellow ochre for the cad yellow i can combine these with any dark cool to get a full range of tones. what about anyone else?

05-16-2001, 07:16 AM
Originally posted by rhoward:
Thank you for the kind comments.

As for setting a palette with acrylics, it would dry up before you had it set.

That's not true! Haven't you ever heard of a StayWet palette? My paint keeps for days in mine!

Great lesson by the way!


Visit me!

05-16-2001, 09:46 PM
I feel I should just mention that rhoward is no longer registered for the WetCanvas forums so cannot reply to this thread.


05-17-2001, 03:53 PM
Terrific tutorial!

Jeanine Jackson
Stamford, CT