Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Many Nameless Colours

18 x 14
This portrait came out of a recent 3 hour session with a model in my studio.  Jenny has gorgeous, English rose skin: creamy, and lightly peach tinted, and she wore a palette of neutrals that harmonized with it.

To avoid overwhelming all of the delicate tints of the arrangement, I put her in front of my favourite drapery, a cool, blue/green/grey, slightly shiny material that seems to hold every colour of cool end of the spectrum depending on the lighting conditions and the surrounding colours.  It's mid toned, like everything that Jenny was wearing.

This could have been a frustrating set up with nothing of substance to hang on to: no easy-to-name colours, no big values, none of the stuff that helps you get a handle on a subject, but it wasn't.  I totally enjoyed it.

After laying in a basic drawing and the dark of the hair, I nailed the part that seemed to me to be the key to the whole piece: the little area of light-struck skin on the right, next to the same-valued but cooler, light shirt.  If I could get the temperatures and hues right in that spot, I could relate every other piece of paint to them.  The paint had to be thick and opaque to read with the proper luminosity.

Once that area seemed right, all I had to do was compare each other colour and value to it.  I continually asked myself "is it warmer or cooler, lighter or darker, than that piece of paint?"  That helped me to make all of the non-colours that make up this painting.

It was such a stimulating exercise that I asked Jenny back and in the same outfit for a larger piece. Today was the start and I'll let you know how it all turns out.

Happy painting!


Penny said...

do you know fragonard? sometimes your works remind me of him. really brilliant, i love this portrait, it'so gently
maybe it's not the right word, in german i would say "sanft"

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thank you, Penny, for the amazing comparison!
I adore Fragonard and he was one of the artists that I studied when I was beginning to paint in oils. The painting of a girl in a yellow dress, reading a book was a revelation when I saw it in a book.

You've made my day!

Penny said...


For me to, he is a amazing painter, and francois boucher to, these two are my absolut favorites.

Have a nice day!

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks, Penny. I'd never heard of Boucher but I like his work.

Good luck with your mosaic!


Julie Ford Oliver said...

You do beautiful things with paint. I love this piece. Your work is of such a high standard I will enjoy following you.
Thanks for visiting my blog.

Ingrid Christensen said...

Thanks so much, Julie, for the kind comment.
I'm really enjoying your blog. You put a lot of thought into each posting and it's a pleasure to read.