Step-by-Step Portrait Washes and Flesh Colors

Nov 2019 Flesh Colors.  Changes from previous colors. Not using Windsor red, or DS Q magenta. Changed from WN Cad red to M Graham brand. The rest is pretty much the same.

After attending a Michael Holter workshop this past summer I added/changed my red. I now have been using M Graham’s Cad Red Light as my primary flesh red. Cad Red is an opaque. Cadmiums sits on top of the washes below. Scarlet lake is more staining so it is harder to lift.

Logan progressive washes

I did this painting very soon after the workshop. Follow along with the reference value card in the 5th photo.

Photo #1: The first base wash on face was WN manganese blue value #9. It covered everything but the lights (cheek and nose). This makes a monotone base painting and makes the dark layers glow.
#2: The next layer was the first wash of cad red over the whole face (except highlight on nose and lip)  and also into the background (immediately connecting the subject to the background). Both blue and red were  a value #9 mix. (see side strip). See this as the lightest on cheek (red over white paper = value 9).
#3: The next wash was the same value red on the shadow. (2 layers of the same #9 value cad red on top of blue = value 7. Look at your value scale and photo #5).
#4: Next was the mouth, nose, eyes, and ears with a alizarin and other warm darks. That completes about 80% of the face.
#5: Now you model the rest with more layers and other common colors to add interest. His hat is a combo of Neut Tint, sepia, nad probably pain’s gray. Keep blending your colors for interest. every time I had one color on my brush I stroked it into the background.
#6 Finished

These were Nov 2018 colors.

Nov 2018  Nothing out of the ordinary here. I was looking for colors to go from sunny warm yellow for a cheek in full sun into a warm red moving toward some cooler reds into a magenta and blues as you get to full shadow. Not sure I like or am settled with the DS Quin Magenta yet but it mixes well with my other colors. (If you have a suggestion please let me know)

To make a dynamic, interesting flesh you must have a range of colors. NOT just some orange-homogenized mix from your palette. Each color needs to “dance and blend” loosely on the palette first, then on the paper but not fully mixed.
I start this with making loose very thin puddles of the Scarlet Lake and Windsor Yellow Deep on my palette. I keep them close and barely touching.

Lately I have been starting with a very very thin wash of WN Manganese (not shown here) as a base for my flesh. This cool blue is the complement to the orange in flesh I just mixed. (See below for links to an artist I have been following on YouTube.) Another color to use as a base color complement is a yellow-green like with Quin Gold.

I use this blue complement so thin it takes no time to dry. It starts the flesh as a monotone painting. No blue is painted on the yellow side and a bit darker in the shadows. Then when dry I will slowly add my yellow on the sunny side, then the orange mix as I come around adding more cools to the mix on the side of the face. After many layers of going cooler, warmer and trying to keep things thin and luminous, I will go into a bit of the Brown Madder as a dark red mixed into the cools. It, mixed with Burnt Sienna or other warm reds make nice dark flesh from deep shaded Caucasian baby skin to dark skinned flesh. Adding the WN blue (red) darkens all the flesh colors.

I am also experimenting using the Cad red as a warm red. E gads it is an opaque color!!! Yes, I use such a tiny tiny thin amount but yes it glazes over the colors and warms up the tones. This is as of TODAY! Please comment, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Bill    Nov 2018