‘Feel Good’ hues for winter blues…

I posted a short video on how to mix a flesh tone for a portrait and that Video can be found HERE

In my last post I mentioned  my challenges with this painting. Seems the challenges were smoothed out using Titanium white instead of a semi-transparent Silver white. I’m really enjoying using this very limited palette. I love these warm colors. ‘Feel good’ hues for winter blues.

I noticed that many of you are inquiring about Skin Tone Recipes. There is a mass mid skin tone colour for Caucasian skin. But remember this, our skin absorbs surrounding colour and light. The shadows on our skin are made up of color that is reflecting off our clothing, the the object’s complimentary colour and the ambient colour in our environment (background colour) Atmosphere, if you will. The light on our skin also depends on the colour of the ambient light and direct light. I do recommend only one light source, more than that creates problems and why complicate things? Keep it simple. For your light source, I recommend a 4700k light as it is neither yellow or blue, but right in the middle. This way you can get clean light and clean colours.

My suggestion is to make up color charts to help with mixing the correct colors. The predominant color here is Transparent red oxide mixed with small increments of all the colors on my palette. For instance, the first colour is Lemon yellow mixed predominantly with Transparent red oxide, then Pale yellow, the Cadmium yellow, next Yellow ocher, Indian red, Transparent red oxide, Alizarin, Viridian, Cobalt blue and Ultramarine blue.


The colors along the right side are full strength colors and moving towards the left, the colors are mixed gradually with white. I decided to stick to only five values. If the light source is coming from above, which is my preference, the forehead would be the lightest. Then the nose and cheekbones and then the chin. The cheeks would have the most color as there is more blood flow in the fleshy parts of the face. Depending on the color bouncing off the clothing, Our skin tone kinda has a greenish tone to it too. I think it has a lot to do with the color of our veins. Where there is lots of blood flow, fingers, toes, cheeks, our flesh is redder. Bony areas have more of a yellowish green tone. Think Complementary colors when painting flesh tone. If you want a certain area to look pinker, then subtly surround it with green and visa versa. I have included Venetian red and chromium oxide green on my flesh tone palette. I swear by color charts, you cannot go wrong. It’s a huge time saver and mostly saves expensive oil paint. Mix the correct color each time. Any questions regarding color charts, please feel free to ask.


9 Comments on “‘Feel Good’ hues for winter blues…

  1. Could you elaborate more on your color charts ….I would like to do them but don’t understand very well how to do them…..


    • Hi Maria, ok I will explain how made them. It took me a week but is well worth it. I used 11 5″x7″ canvas boards. One for each color I use. For example ~ one canvas board for lemon yellow, one for pale yellow, cad red, Indian red, Transparent red oxide, viridian, cobalt blue and Ultramarine blue and Titanium white. These are the colors I use, but it will work great for any number of combinations.If i were to make these color charts again I would use larger canvas boards. Divide your 8″x10″ canvas panel into eleven across and five down. Squeeze every color on your palette. Paint each square along the top row with each color you use.. What you are going to do is make five values going from dark to light. We will start with the lightest value. Make 11 small piles of titanium enough to fill each square at the bottom row. With your palette knife, mix in the tiniest bit of lemon yellow, the white must barely change color, it must be barely noticeable and paint the first square. Do so with Pale yellow and then cad yellow and so forth. At the top row you will have colors in full strength and the bottom the lightest value. This time add more color for the next row. Then even more for subsequent rows. Make sure your value range makes sense. What you could do is once you painted your lightest values, go to the second row and add tiny bit of white to each color. So now you can have an idea how much white to add to each color to create five values that make sense. You could use a grey scale to help with the color value scale.Label each chart at the back, one for each color. Lets begin with lemon yellow. On the top row in the first square, paint lemon yellow, in the next square, ad a tiny increment of of pale yellow to lemon yellow and paint it next to the the lemon yellow square. Next add a tiny increment of cad yellow to lemon yellow and paint it next to the pale yellow square. Next add a tiny increment of yellow ochre to lemon yellow and paint it next to the cad yellow and do this with each color. Next begin with the values. Take your lemon yellow and add a tiny bit of white and paint it under the lemon yellow square, next mix in some more white until you have five values of lemon yellow, make sure the bottom square is the lightest value where u can barely notice it’s lemon yellow. Next add tiny bit of white to your lemon and pale yellow mixture. Then make four more values until you reach your lightest value. Make sure the values make sense.These charts are very similar to the charts at your local hardware store in the paint department. They have all sorts of color charts they made with all the colors they use. Same as these charts. Do this with each color until you have eleven charts or how ever many colors you use. Hope this all makes sense, if not I will try to elaborate further. Good luck and enjoy, it’s a great learning experience 🙂


      • Perfect..thank you so much ..I love your work and I look forward for your tips.


      • Maria, on the back of your chart, don’t forget to label the main color at the bottom and all the colors on your palette at the top behind each color. If you need further help, let me know 🙂


  2. Good morning Naomi, thanks for all the tips that i have already find on your blog. please can you help me with this problem:
    what are the transparent colors?
    and how do i know them from my other oil painting colors?
    i want to try painting a canvas on Dreama’s technique, and she starts with her dark transparent colors and do the layers getting lighter.
    thank you so much, Hantie, South Africa.


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