Chopin plays his piano and soothes my soul…

It’s a beautiful morning on this first day of March. Although it looks like rain on the way, there is such a beautiful light flooding through my window. I moved my studio upstairs. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. The attic room was purple, but not for long. I painted it a dark sage green. The colour of ambient atmosphere. Perfect for painting people and still from life. I’m so fortunate to have this space in this north-west facing room.  The window light is more than enough light for painting. The natural light is way more uplifting for my spirit. Chopin plays his piano and soothes my soul while I write, sigh…

Here’s an image I took with my iphone of my studio. I love this space. I can close the door and shut the world out while I paint and swoon over the most beautiful music that touches my muse in such a profound way.

my new studio

In reply to your question, Felta, about how I set up a portrait sitting. How long a sitter sits and how much do I get done in one sitting.

I have two windows in my studio. I sit with my back facing the one window, so the window light falls on the canvas on my easel and palette. The sitter sits near the other window. Generally I like a two hour sitting, although I can manage an hour if the sitter falls asleep and needs to go home for a nap. Two of them fell asleep sitting for me yesterday hahaha!

Rolf's portrait

In this image, the sitter, Rolf came over to sit for his portrait quite late in the day and the light began to fade. I turned on a 5000k light and faced it up towards the ceiling. The light bounced off the ceiling and created the perfect light for my sitter. The first sitting took a few hours. This time was spent drawing his face with my brush on a canvas I stained with a wash of burnt umber the day before. I used burnt umber for my drawing. The second sitting was an hour and half. Half the time was spent laying in shadows and searching for the correct colours. I found the right mixes and made notes. The third sitting was in my new studio. An hour, Rolf fell asleep, lol, he had a long day at work, standing all day cutting hair. My studio is so peaceful. I have the most beautiful view overlooking a gorgeous Zen Garden David created. An old blue and gray house in the neighbors yard and the trees behind the house looks so inviting. I am definitely going to paint this view. Soon.

The colours I use for flesh tones are as follows, but first remember this, although we all have our own skin tone recipes, they are never written in stone. Skin tones differ and also depends on what surrounds the skin. Light and colour illuminate the skin. Our skin is like a mirror that reflects everything around it. Here are a few recipes I picked up from Daniel Greene, one of my favorite portrait painters. I found his mixtures to be pretty spot on. I like to premix some of my colours, especially when time is of the essence.

Raw Sienna + Cadmium red light. This is for the reds in the half tones and the hot reds in the shadows.

Chromium oxide green. I’ll explain how I use this colour…

Look at your hand. Hold your had sideways like this.

My hand

Notice that as the light begins to turn to shadow there is a green colour and then the hottest colour is right where the shadow begins. Right next to the hottest colour is green and then the shadow is made up of the ambient colour of the room . You can see it closer to my thumb.  If you notice the top left side of the image, the folds between my thumb and forefinger are red and then surrounded with a subtle green. Notice the green surrounding the indentation.  You will also notice the yellow colour of my skin in the light. Yellow Ochre + White and a dash of purple, I made up of Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine blue. Always think complimentary colours when you paint skin tone. I use Chromium oxide  Green and the Raw sienna and Cadmium red light mix for the shadows. For the deepest shadows I mix Sap green + Alizarin. Two transparent colours. You want to keep your shadow colours thin. Always tone down your reds with green. Always tone down your greens with red and that includes pinks too, as that is made from reds. Always use complimentary colours to tone down the intensity and Nothing else. For pinks I use Burnt sienna + white. For orange tones I use Burnt Sienna + Yellow Ochre. Always tone down your yellows with purple. Nothing else. Remember, Yellow Ochre is a yellow. I also mix up a pile of Transparent red oxide and Ultramarine Blue for my darks. Transparent Red oxide + Burnt sienna with a dash of blue + White makes a great base for skin tone too. It all really depends on the sitter’s skin tone and the ambient atmosphere. Alizarin and Viridian make a beautiful dark colour for shadows in the the background too. I also sometimes use Viridian in skin tones too, it really depends on the skin tone of the sitter.

As I mentioned in previous posts, make up colour charts of the colours you use. You can’t go wrong. If I don’t know what combination of colours to mix to arrive at a certain colour, I use my colour charts. It’s fail-proof.

skin tone colour chart

Hope this helps, please feel free to ask any questions should I have missed anything.

Good luck and happy Painting!