Friday, February 3, 2012

Day 15

A whelk shell from the collection. I'm getting terribly interested in subtlety, a luxury hardly available to the working illustrator and thus not something I spent much time on earlier in my career. In particular, I'm getting interested in how closely related tones can lend the appearance of all sorts of interesting natural phenomena; chiefly skin but also including such things as peach skin and the dusty but rich tones of a dry shell.

I was lucky enough to run into a colleague of mine a few days ago, Kathy Speranza. She was working on a portrait using a traditional pre-mixed portraiture palette sometimes known as the Reilly palette. I'd heard of it and been somewhat curious about it, but the labor of preparation always seemed somewhat daunting and extraneous to me, especially as I paint so few portraits. So it was a real pleasure to finally see it in action, and I begin to see its virtues. In particular, as Kathy said, it makes it very easy to lay down tones very close in value but differing in degree of warmth--the real key to getting flesh to look like flesh. I've been investigating this phenomenon as regards the Tonalist landscape artists, but it was fascinating to see how widely applicable it is, and I hope to make some real headway with the landscapes as I proceed.

In the meantime, a dry and dusty whelk is a laboratory in miniature. It also serves as an object lesson in keeping your brushes clean, as I was just scrubbing in a bit of background with a brush that turned out to be contaminated with yellow when my alarm went off and it was time to stop.

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