Persistence. Painting skin tones is a difficult skill I could spend years perfecting. Getting a face to look right is hard because we spend so much time looking at faces. Most people instantly can look at a face and feel if it is “off”, even if they can’t tell why it is off.
Learning As I Go
Over the last couple weeks I have worked on the skin tones in this painting, repeatedly. Her body went from too flat with even flesh coloring to zombie-like with too much blue and gray to what I have now. Her face I have repeatedly painted over because the skin color was off and the alignment of her features was not correct. At this moment, I am between painting sessions. I use acrylic paint. Acrylic paints begin to get “gummy” as they dry and over-working the paint makes the texture rough. A rough texture is not what I want for her skin.
The Many Colors of Skin
Trying to get this eight armed goddess’ skin correct has been an exercise in learning about skin tones. I am glad that I have persisted. I am learning scads about skin tones and tonal regions of the face. For instance, around the eyes and chin is typically cooler– more blue or greenish in tint. Under the eyes and across the forehead is more yellowish.
I found this graphic on tumblr on art-res:
The other thing I discovered while taking on this challenge is skin is composed of many different colors. I have used cerulean blue, cadmium orange, cadmium red deep, raw and burnt umber, raw sienna, titanium white, and phthalo green. While the face is still being worked on, and I haven’t done much more than rough the arms in, the body is looking better. And if you look close there are blues, greens, warm browns, yellows, pinks– so many colors!
While I am working on this painting, I have also continued working on the exercises in the Draw A Box tutorials. My hand is getting very steady. I still make mistakes. I have filled about half of a sketchbook with lines, ellipses, planes, and boxes in perspective. My hand is getting steadier and my line quality is more confident.
In addition to working on my drafting skills, I have been working on my ability to see basic shapes in forms. I went looking for video tutorials on YouTube. I found a series of tutorials on figure drawing by Richard Smitheman. His approach of looking for where the figure’s center of gravity and their balance lies makes infinite sense. He provides solid information about anatomy as well. Another series of free videos on YouTube I found is The Drawing Database. The Drawing Database is a series of videos created by Associate Professor Marc Leone from Northern Kentucky University. His videos cover art history, basic drawing, and how to prepare to draw.
In my search for information about skin tones, I also purchased a few books. One I am still waiting to arrive in the mail. The other is titled “Why do my Skin Tones Look Lifeless?” by Rachel Shirley. The book covers skin tones and a variety of issues around doing portraiture. My library of art books, books about specific aspects of art, and art processes and techniques is growing!
All of this is causing me to consider creating a DIY Bachelors of Fine Arts program for myself.
Stay tuned for more about this next week!