Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Problem with Great Skin

"Drowsy Model"
16 x 12

This gorgeous, young woman, Julie, recently modeled for my students and me. She has the most amazing skin: like thick cream. She modeled for two classes and in the first one I lit her with the regular mix of colour-corrected fluorescent and halogen spots. It was impossible! Her skin had such a variety of subtle warm and cool colours on it which this basically cool, flat light brought out completely. So when we tried to paint her, the results verged on bizarre: lavender, mint, rose, cerulean - she had them all.
The second week, I lit her with just the warm spots and turned off the fluorescents. Then I moved a spot over each painter's easel so that we were painting under the same light. This is important. It's much harder to get a good, believable painting when your canvas and your subject are lit differently.
The dramatic lighting helped us a lot. Julie's skin took on a simplified warm colour with fewer variations across her form and we had the benefit of a strong value pattern to play with as well.
I'd like to try to paint her again sometime under the flat lighting because I didn't succeed the first time, but I was pleased to have found a way to capture her at all!

No comments: