CREATING BEAUTY WITH THE MAGIC OF LIGHT AND SHADOW
INQUIRY: “WHAT DO I LOVE ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING?” As you move through the learning process, you many encounter moments of doubt or frustration. When this happens, step back and find what you *are* loving about what is happening.
This week we will be learning to contour by applying several layers of dark, light, and medium tones. This is a template that shows where the color values are applied; I’ve used Brown for the darkest value, Green for the medium tone, and Yellow for the lightest areas.
© Flora Aube
DARKS & LIGHTS DEMO
Colors used: Alizarin Crimson for darks & Yellow Ochre + White for lights)
© Flora Aube
Transcript for Darks & Lights
Start with your DARKEST color painting where the face recedes: the outside edges of the face and neck, inner and outer eyes, under the chin, under the lower lip and under the nose, and along the edge of her garment.
Use your fingers to blend and soften so you don’t have any hard edges.
Shading is key in contouring. Start with a small section and work around the face.
THIS TAKES PRACTICE. Be very patient with yourself here- blending is the trickiest step. If you have trouble spreading the paint, add some glazing medium to your dark color.
Relax if it’s not blending smoothly- more layers will be worked on top of this one, and this step usually looks a bit scary.
Next add your LIGHTEST color: this is where the face is most ‘forward’ ~ the front of the cheeks, center of the forehead, the nose, small section above the top lip, center of the eye lids, the chin, the throat, and the heart. We are working to blend the lights and darks by using the flat of the brush and the flat of the finger, not the tip.
For the nose, turn your brush upside down at the tip and pull up about half way up, make comma marks ( ) where the nostrils go.
Step back from your painting and see if your lights are even on both sides of the face and add more where you need to. If you need to correct at any time, have your water and paper towel handy- it’s that easy.
After the lights are in, (without washing your brush), add more glaze to your brush and go over the face lightly to give it a soft, glowy effect. Watch for the magic ‘accidents’ that occur- wonderful mixes of color that produce an effect you didn’t plan- and then go with it! PLAY!
Slowly work to thin out any hard lines you still have- they were just there as guides. Use a larger brush than you would think to use to keep your work loose.
It’s not time for refinement yet so enjoy the movement and flexibility at this stage. The loose quality at this stage affects the “life” of the painting.
Put some color on her lips- listen to Her tell you if they are neutral or va-va-voom…if they are full, thin, smiling or serious. Stay very connected to her throughout the process. _______________________________________________________________________________
MEDIUMS & GLAZING DEMO
Colors: Quin. Azo Gold for medium and (Transparent Red Iron Oxide + water for Glazing).
***Please Note: I am using the term “Glazing” in this demonstration to mean one paint color + water that covers the skin (after darks, lights, & medium tones have been applied). This technique is how to create depth.The process of adding lights/darks/mediums and then glazing, and then repeating the process is what builds fantastic dimension. (Demo colors: Quin. Azo Gold for medium and Transparent Red Iron Oxide + water for Glazing).
© Flora Aube
Transcript for Mediums & Glazing
Use a medium tone of color that is in between your darks and lights for this step.
Start with very little paint on your brush with touch of glaze.
Use your medium tone to integrate your colors and start creating more contour by blending.
Don’t use so much paint that you lose your darks and lights. You are after a soft, blended effect, and if you are not able to eliminate a harsh line, let it dry and go back over it with glaze.
When you are overlapping your various tones, you may temporarily lose them so simply go back and forth between light, medium, and darks with as many layers as you need to create her contouring. It often takes many applications, so continue to work with her and adjust and give yourself plenty of space and permission for this step.
As you place the layers of shading, you will invariably lose some of the defining lines of her features. Once you have her contours in place, take a small brush and reset her features-keep your line soft. You may see you need to adjust the size of her eyes to match, or realign her nose or lips to the center, or reset her eye brows.
Keep it soft by keeping a touch of water on your brush and then brushing over your lines with a finger.
Follow your intuition
The lips generally take some time to get the shape and size right for Her. Listen to Her energy and let that guide you. Lips can be tricky so work with them over and over. Put them in and then step back. Feel free to keep adjusting until they suit Her.
Stay connected to who She is.
Be sure to integrate her neck and chest if the skin is exposed there. Try to work quickly.
Sometimes you may get too much paint on your brush for the area you are working. If you do, simply wipe it off with a wet paper towel and re-paint after the area has dried. This is a lot of experimentation and play, so just stay curious.
As you work more and more with the paint, you’ll get the feel of how the paint responds. Mis-takes will happen-sometimes this is the most fun. If you like the effect, go with it. Contouring with lights, darks and mediums is a process that is repeated a couple times. It is what creates fascinating depth in your painting.
Let her skin thoroughly dry and move into her hair or crown and garment by placing color and blocking. For simple, basic hair use the edge of a sponge brush and a round brush, alternating to place the strands, and using a variety of tones depending on what color hair She wants.
Move your body with your marks. Start at her crown and swirling the brush downward, lifting your brush at the ends to create a lighter stroke at the end. Allow thicker strands with the sponge brush, blot back the color to get some transparency.
Always listen and tune in. Feel what wants to happen. (Trust yourself.) Continuously ask, “What do I love about what’s happening?”
In between each layer, we do what is called ‘Glazing’ (different than your glaze medium to thin your paint).
Glazing is when we choose a color and dilute it with WATER and paint over part or all of our canvas with a thin layer. In doing so, we temporarily ‘lose’ our painting to the dark. You can use any color to Glaze but I like using medium to dark tones. I recommend using a quinacridone color for this step because it already has some transparency to it.
This is THE step that creates rich, amazing dimension. Get a good amount of paint out so you can do this step without stopping to remix. Use the biggest brush you have and paint it all over quickly, let it sit for a minute and then wipe off excess with a paper towel. This is always a scary step the first couple times but you will come to love the effect it gives your paintings. ________________________________________________________________________________
LIGHTS & DARKS AFTER GLAZING (with Paint + Water)
© Flora Aube
Transcript for Lights & Darks after glazing
Hold the intention of bringing back light and a feeling of translucence.
After the last step of glazing (paint & water) the skin down, a depth and richness will start to occur by going through the process of putting lights back into the face, and building dimensionality. Then add your darks (and medium tones). I recommend repeat this process at least 2 times, but you can choose to do it once if you are just beginning.
If you are already experienced with this, experiment with deep brown, blue or green as your shading layer.
Keep your paint layers thin and try not to cover completely over the former layers – allow complexity to show.
Keep your brush and fingers moving to continuously blend, blend, blend, building up each layer and continuously connecting the different tones. Use glaze with this step to keep the paint wet and fluid.
Keep your strokes loose and free.
Be gentle and patient with yourself. This generally takes time to understand how the paint responds, how much to use, how fast it dries.
It is worth taking all the time you need with this, and continue to practice your blending and contouring ability creates a beautiful feel of the skin.
Stand back from your canvas frequently and inquire, “What do I love?”