Monday, June 21, 2010

Say "NO" to Flesh Tone!

Lindsey (8x6 0il)

Figure studies are done quickly -- just long enough to capture gesture, shape, colour. Something to consider when working quickly in an editing mode is the use of exaggeration of colour and contrast. Often in figure drawing studios, the lighting is less than optimal so improvisation is helpful if you know what to push...

(12x9 oil pastel)

Think in terms of temperature, not colour. The phrase "Skin tone" has a premeditated effect on your choice of colour so I try to not use it. "Flesh tone" is even worse (not to mention prejudice) -- it immediately conjures up pinks where greens, violets, and a variety of unnameable grays & browns are much more accurate. Skin (of any race) has a unique, absorbing surface and is always visually effected by it's surrounding light and background colour.

Sue (12x16 dry pastel)

In most cases (especially with lighter skin) the larger the form, the grayer it appears/ the smaller the form, the redder (or warmer). Blood runs closer to the surface on small forms; the nose is redder than the face, the face redder than the head, the head redder than the torso, etc. Exaggerating the temperature of forms helps define them while adding interest palette-wise. Extremities such as wrists & ankles, fingers & toes, ears & nose, knees & elbows have a warmer tint compared to broader parts such as thighs, torso/back, etc. By keeping the larger, broader areas of the body cooler and the smaller parts warmer, you will have a more convincing palette of colour in your studies as well as your finished works of the human figure.


  1. This is wonderful information. Digging and tweeting it. Thanks.