"Everybody knows a work of art takes at least an hour!" Lucy to Linus, (Peanuts)

FineArtViews Painting Competition - Twice in the Fav 15%

http://canvoo.com/boldbrush/badge/13203 three times selected for FAV15%, Fine Art Views Bold Brush Painting Competition

Friday, November 19, 2010

What Colour is "Flesh"?

Continuing with the painting of Samanda I am once again made aware of the huge variety of colours in so-called "flesh" (of the human variety). Caucasians are not just "white" or "peach" or
"rose" toned. Darker skinned peoples are not "brown" or "black". We are all made up of the same
rainbow of colours, just different intensities and values of those colours. Our surroundings and the lighting we are in also influence the colours that stand out in our skin. Samanda is Asian. Her skin has beautiful golden tones. Here in her arm I noticed intense orange and soft yellow but also sienna, umber, viridian green, shades of lavendar, and deep reds. Cerulean Blue and Naples Yellow mixed to make some of the greenish tones, while Permanent Rose, Alizarin Crimson, and Burnt Sienna, and Cobalt Blue are in some of the shadow areas. The red/violet and blue colours in the fabric she holds in front of her reflect subtly on her arms and under her neck and chin. I am unable to locate a single tube of paint that would be the right "colour" for painting her or anyone else. I notice that many artists paint beautiful portraits of people using quite limited palattes, mostly umbers and subtle mixtures of red, yellow and white. There is nothing wrong with this in the least - I just find it more exciting to really look for all the variations that are actually there in the models skin. If you really look at your own hand, move it into varying light and shadow, and you start to notice that rainbow that is part of all of us.
An aside: I entered the Blossom Art Competition recently and received word yesterday that I was not juried in. They had 2300 entries and a very limited number that could be accepted. I look forward to seeing those who were chosen and congratulate them. This is a competitive business but not being accepted does not mean one is unworthy. A different jury would pick a different group of paintings. I am aiming fairly high lately so I have to accept with good grace that I still am a winner because deciding to aim high forces me to paint as well as I can and to reach for more than I might have. I had entered "Nicole in the Rose Trellis" and "Heather with Peonies" and both paintings achieved a benchmark level for me - now on to see if I can surpass myself!


  1. Such a lovely arm-- and a wonderful description of the colors that go into such a painting.

  2. Though not a painter I appreciate the difficulty in acheiving the perfect tone. Skin colour changes with the light. Being a freckled person you would have a hay day :)

    All the best with your latest entries Karen.

  3. Hi Karen!... Thanks for the flesh tone seminar!

    "You" really know your stuff and your detailed commentary reminds me why. It is in the looking... and looking... and looking... then truly "Seeing"... which means of course... understanding. A eureka moment!

    Glad to see "You" back at what gives "You" pleasure... and passion! Good for "You"!

    Good Painting!...Good luck with finishing Samanda.

    Warmest regards,

    PS Like the positive... personal spin that you gave to "rejection"! "Always on the sunny side..."

  4. Very pleased about the reactions to my "seminar" on the colours of skin...I have often felt that if everyone could stop for a minute and really consider how similar we all are, including in the colours we are, that a lot of dislike of the so-called "other" would disappear. That is naive, I know, but it could be a step in the right direction. As to my "sunny side" of accepting rejection, well, it is a bit of push/pull on myself sometimes to just let it be...I don't like rejection any more than anyone else, but after an initial sense of failure, jealousy, and rancor I a take myself in hand and realize that everything is ok and then I do feel truly pleased for those who have been "chosen." We each have our time in the limelight...it just isn't all the time...think what impossibly overbearing bores we would all be otherwise!:-)

  5. Your use of color is superb Karen. I loved reading your thoughts about this too, I'm always hungry to learn about figure paintings. :)

  6. Gorgeous Karen..I love different hues and saand tones in skin color..and even hair..it is exciting isnt it! Beautiful work!