Monday, August 16, 2010


Hello there,
I received a question on another site asking how I mixed the flesh tones on this piece. I thought I'd post it here.

First I'd like to say there is no secret formula for mixing flesh colors because every person is slightly different. Furthermore each person can be different colors at different times depending on many different circumstances not the least of which is the weather.

That being said I have never met a person I couldn't paint with a simple color palette. So people are different, but basically the same.

The colors I choose are:
Titanium White or Permalba White
Naples Yellow
Cad. Yellow Med.
Yellow Ochre
Raw Sienna
Cad. Red
Alizarin Crimson (optional)
Sap Green (optional)
Burnt Sienna
Burnt Umber
Raw Umber Green Shade (Windsor & Newton) (optional)
Prussian Blue
Cobalt Blue (Optional)
Ivory Black

One of the first things I do is take a look at the model. I then spend a few minutes (about ten) mixing up what are called strings. Strings are pre-mixed colors of paint which are lightened with white in small increments to get seven values of each color. Although the desire may be to jump right into painting, believe me this will save you time in the end. My teacher, Daniel Greene first introduced me to the idea of strings. He, and many other artists, pre-mix their strings before the model arrives, with the same formula every time. Although this is effective for a beginner, I feel that since each person is different, I like to mix different strings each time based on the colors of the model. After a while you will become familiar with how to mix those colors fast, by sight.
Lately I don't mix them at all anymore, I just jump right into painting. 

As for the painting above, I remember using a lot of Raw Umber and White. Most people have very low intensity of color or "chroma" which means there is a lot of grey in their skin color. For this painting I used White, Raw Umber Green Shade, Red and Yellow. I also added Alizarin Crimson for many of the pink areas. I also used Naples Yellow to lighten some of the mixtures.

It was painted in three hours, from life. 20 x 24 Oil on Canvas