Sunday, September 4, 2011

John the Fourth

The real thing
An aborted attempt - too orange
Another no-go
Start with a grisaille - raw sienna, quin. pink + cobalt blue
Skin - raw sienna, quin. pink + cobalt blue
Hair - raw sienna, aliz. crimson + cobalt blue 
Needed background to be able to better judge intensity of skin tones.
Ground is aureolin, quin. pink + cobalt blue 
Tone down and deepen background with quin. burnt orange + indanthrone blue
More darkening of face shadows with grisaille color
Hair colors blocked in. T-shirt  blocked in, again to better to judge  skin tones.

This is my 4th go at John's portrait. I've tried different techniques and color combinations, and have found  the more "traditional" approach is working best for me right now. I have found that a realistic portrait usually needs some earth [sedimentary] pigments to start, then you can add depth and intense color with the staining colors. For years, I have avoided using the earth colors, as I always seemed to get it too muddy. But I am finding that, thinly applied, they work wonders with flesh tones. So, here I leave John for tonight; tomorrow I will get some brighter colors in the skin colors. As always, I truly appreciate all your comments! 


  1. Fascinating to watch your approach. I'm looking forward to the future stages xx

  2. I admire your tenacity Kathryn! Repetition is the key to mastery.

  3. Wonderful work, Kathryn. It is all coming together very well.

  4. John looks great. I applaud you for trying more than once. There are so many stages where it looks nothing like the person that it's easy to get lost and give up!

  5. lovely! portraits are tough - this is splendid work for sure...