Painting Portraits

24 Feb 2009

Q: I Recently saw some paintings by Deborah Deichler and liked the results she gets through her glazing techniques with oil. Since I have not been able to find a book written by her, can you recommend a book or other teaching aid for that kind of work? At this point my main interest is the human skin.

A: Painting people is the same as painting any subject: When the light rests on a subject it usually offers warm values while the shadows cast will usually have cool values. If you take a look at a portrait by Rembrandt, Vermeer, or any contemporary artist, you will see many colors in the subject’s flesh regardless of whether he or she is fair- or dark-skinned. These colors can be blue, green, vermillion, burnt sienna, or many others. There are numerous books by portrait painters that share the artists’ color palettes for skin tones, but for now you can consider Rembrandt's classic palette for all skin colors: Titanium White, cadmium yellow light, vermillion, alizarin crimson, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, ivory black, burnt sienna, and viridian. 

--by Camille LaPointe-Lyons

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