A Modern Approach to a Traditional Technique Continued (Working Opaque Colors Into Your Glazes)

It’s been a crazy couple of months, and, regretfully, I haven’t been keeping up with my blog.  Along with laboring away in the studio, I’ve been making adjustments in my work schedule, and simply have not found much time to write new material!  However, I’m now anxious to pick up where I left off, and I don’t forsee any more lapses.

At this stage, I was finally ready to bring my monochromatic portrait to life with color.  I began by adding section glazes which is different from the more traditional approach of a large single color glaze over a broad area.  I focused in on the area around the right eye first, by mixing up a general shadow color with Cobalt Violet, Transparent Red Oxide, Yellow Ochre, and Viridian green.  Before broadly applying the color, I always test it out first in a small section.  By dabbing the paint onto the green shadow mass with a small brush, I was able to determine whether or not it was the right value and chroma.  Remember, colors always look different when they’re transferred from the palette to the actual painting.

Once I was happy with the color, I thinned the paint out with linseed oil to create a soupy consistency which could be brushed over my shadow mass transparently, allowing the darkness of my previous layer to come through.  With the light mass I proceeded the same way, by testing out a small section of color first.  I worked lights into the eye lid, using Naples Yellow as my base color with a # 0 brush.  While still wet, I added Flake White to create a tint as well as hints of Baroque Red, which pushed the hue more towards a pink.  Using very small dabs of paint I began working subtle variations of ochres, browns, and pinks into the wet glaze.  This method allows for easy blending.  By letting parts of the underpainting come through, particularly in the shadow transitions around the eye, I was able to achieve optical color effects.  In the opaques, less medium is used, but the color is still applied thinnly and will be built up with additional layers if necessary.  Using small dabs of color is also helpful in creating the illusion of skin pigmentation.  Skin is not smooth like porcelain, nor is it even in color.  There are infinite variations of color due to blood vessels, pores, freckles, and so forth.  That is why I choose to focus on one small section at a time.  This process allows me to make careful color adjustments and it helps me to observe the subtlties that can so easily be overlooked.

For the white of the eye I used Thalo Blue, Chromatic Blue, and Flake White.  The “white” of the eye, with the exception of the highlight, is far from white.  Because white reflects all colors, one should always search for the color influence in their whites.  Based upon how it is lit, most whites will have an influence of blue, green, violet, red or yellow color.  Almost never will something that is white actually appear white.  For the iris I used a more concentrated variation of the blues as well as hints of Yellow Ochre to reflect some warmer colors.

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