Now February has arrived, I think it is time to pick up my brushes again and get back into my ongoing theme of the whole business of how to get realistic skin tones, in Acrylic. This particular artistic quest has been in active progress off and on, for a whole year now. I have dabbled in Acrylics for a long, long, time, previously to that, but, never really managed to gain much satisfaction in the area of color mixing and more specifically, in my skin tones.
So, at the beginning of last year I took two online courses with Will Kemp Art School – one on Color Theory in Acrylics and the other was a short portraiture course, also in Acrylics. Will Kemp has an awesome website that I like to visit, filled with freebie links to you-tube videos of his about various stuff. I personally like him because he responds to all questions and comments on his website and he has a great teaching manner! Very accessable and encouraging! (Oh and I love his work – he is the only teacher I have found online who teaches how to paint Acrylics but in an oil painterly style (probably because he comes from an oil-painting background that is strongly influenced by the Old Masters) Anyway, this guy speaks my language – enough said! and the videos I downloaded for these courses are mine to keep – forever!!
The picture at the top of my post is the last thing I painted at the end of last year – My daughter, in acrylic on canva paper. The underpainting was a mid tone of Raw Umber and Titanium White and then I penciled in the basic lines of her face, including the edges of any significant shadows. Then, I did a Bistre, or tonal underpainting, in a darker version of the mid tone. When all that was dried and satisfactory, I mixed up my skin tones using a palette that was based on that of Anders Zorn (Yellow Ocre, Cad Red Medium, Ivory Black and Titanium White) – at the moment I am favoring Zorn because I have realised that I was just confusing myself by trying to complicate my palette too much. Later this year I plan to go back and reintroduce some of the other pigments that portrait painters know and love, since my eventual goal is to get the most realistic skin tones I can muster!
Now I am working on a new practice painting, with a much warmer, Burnt Sienna, ground….Experimentation is the name of the game and the thing about skin tones is to judge the values as correctly as you can …the mid tone of the starting canvas and also using a mixing palette that is grey (paper disposable ones) has been a great help to me in judging the correctness of skin tones…..I will report back, soon! Oh and if anyone reading this is inspired to comment a few pearls of wisdom on the theme of skin tones in Acrylic (what does and does not work for you?) or ask a question about my evolving process….Please, feel free to do so!!!
Oh and here’s the link in case anyone wants to look Will Kemp Art School up – http://willkempartschool.com/