Painting Outdoor Light by portrait painter Brian Neher

Uploaded by BrianNeherFineArt on 04.08.2011

So, basically, when I start out, if I’m going to paint a portrait, I usually start
out with a basic mixture of gold ochre, some people use yellow ochre which is fine also,
but I think that gold ochre just has a little more tinting strength. That means that I’m
able to darken a color very quickly. So, gold ochre and then I might start out with cadmium
scarlet which is more of a warm red. It’s more towards the orange side, actually. I’ll
start out with a mixture like that. Let me add a little more gold ochre in there. And
then I’ll add some white to this which basically gives me a warm mixture to work with. I can
get various degrees of values just by adding white. That’s one way to start for a basic
mixture, but I wouldn’t just mix flesh tones with just different values of this color.
I have over here burnt sienna and I’ll show you what a lot of times artists want to do
and that’s just change the value. I don’t usually use burnt sienna. Sometimes I’ll
use it for various situations but most of the time it’s not even on my palette, but
I went ahead and put it on here just to show you. A lot of times people assume “Well,
we just add brown”, which is like a raw sienna. “If I just have brown and I add
a bunch of white to it, then I’ll get all sorts of values that I can put in to use for
my flesh tones”. Now, you’ll see when I start to do this, you do get all sorts of
values. You can get all kinds of values but, when you look at that, does that look like
skin tones? Can you use that all throughout your painting and look like skin tones? To
me, it’s going to start to look pretty fake, almost like a bad tan or something. It’s
all too warm. So what do you do? Let me get rid of this. Instead of just using this warm
mixture that I put down there, I need something to go into it to help tone it down a little
bit, to help neutralize it a little bit. I shouldn’t say neutralize. When you think
of neutralize you think of something different. Let’s call it graying down. In order to
gray down a color you have to add its compliment. And, remember, we talked about complimentary
colors. What I would do, since I started out with more of a cad scarlet, are a couple of
different things. Since cad scarlet is a very warm red and the opposite of a very warm red
is a cool green, I would add viridian. So, if I mixed some viridian over here, now surely you can’t just use that in skin tones
can you? Well, look at some of the Impressionist paintings. You’ll see all sorts of colors
in skin tones that you never would have imagined but the way that they used them in compliments
next to each other, complimentary colors next to each other, so when you stand back your
eye automatically mixes those colors together and gives you the illusion of a different
color. I wouldn’t necessarily use this color straight out of the tube like that with white,
but what happens if I take a little bit of that and mix it over here into this mixture
that I have? Then something starts to happen. Then we start to get various grays that start
to occur. Those grays happen when the form turns, just like we talked about with the
outdoor light with the cool light on top and the warm, reflected light on the bottom. In
between there, there is a sort of gray that happens. The same thing goes for indoor light.
You go from a light source to a dark shadow and as soon as that form turns it becomes
somewhat gray and that’s where all of these grays come in handy. So, let’s take a little
bit of this and if I take these compliments and mix them together, all of sudden I get
all sorts of different colors that I can use in my flesh tones.
I’m just going to mass in the hair here and get these big shapes. I don’t want to
put this color down here because it’s going to look too close to the color of the skin
there, so let’s go ahead and change it up a little bit. Let’s add a little bit of
cadmium green pale and a little bit of cad yellow pale. Let me get it a little bit lighter.
That should be good. Let’s get that reflected light bouncing
back up in there. This little area here needs more of a change in value than what I have
there. That’s a little too light in value for me.