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Atelier Dojo’s Figure Painting in Oils: From Monochrome to Limited Palette (Session 6)

David Robinson 3 weeks ago

Painting with Jennifer: Atelier Dojo’s Figure Painting in Oils – From Monochrome to Limited Palette (A Blog Series)

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

PART 4

PART 5

PART 6

Tonight we painted a single limited palette painting in the three-hour class period. Jennifer did not paint along with us, but circulated among our easels and offered observations and advice the whole time. Although I had practiced mixing limited palettes in two outside sessions, I was still uncertain about the pigments to use and how to achieve the values that matched the model’s values. One of our fundamentals was that painting in one sense is the depiction of light striking a three-dimensional object. I can attest that achieving that accurate state is quite amazing and satisfying. But tonight I struggled to achieve accurate paint mixes on my palette.

There is a tendency to slow down when one has more time to accomplish a task. I am aware of the problem and try to avoid it. So I worked hurriedly to achieve acceptable flesh value tones on my palette. Nevertheless I took longer than desired to build the palette, and I dripped sweat when I finished the mixing. Seemingly, the rest of the class was already applying paint to canvas.

The next step was the oil sketch of the model. I gained an acceptable sketch, I thought, in part by mirror views of the model and the sketch side-by-side. I quickly slammed into mass applications of tonal paint into the correct areas of the model’s figure. Jennifer came by and pointed out that my darker flesh tone on the model’s thigh was lighter than the primary flesh tone elsewhere in the painting. Oops, back to the palette work.

tonal values

Example of Jennifer’s painting with correct tonal values | Photo courtesy of Jennifer Balkan

The night finally smoothed out with hard work on our paintings, accompanied by loud boom-chicka-boom sounds from the photographic show reception next door. By the end I felt I knew much better how to achieve an accurate limited palette. Then the class ended, we cleaned up, and all went home. I reviewed my painting at home—and second oops—the head was too small.

Session keywords:

Tonal values
Pacing
Accuracy

Cover photo courtesy of Dan Cook, Unsplash

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