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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Flesh Tone Insecurities? Consult Holbein

Holbein, The Younger, is the guy to go for for skin tones.  Subtle Elegance.

After Holbein' The Stone Thrower, (minus the coffee spot).  Today, this pose could be translated
into a hefty gal bowling a gutter ball.

Erin could benefit
Flesh tones drive me up the wall.  I see nothing simple about them.  There's a number of tints involved  and I'd prefer not to see them as complex as I do and use no more than three. ( It's when I get to the flesh, I adore contemporary portrait painter Alex Katz--one or two colors, that's it).

This morning I sat down to sun with Holbein. Schmid had said no one did skin tones like Holbein (the younger).  And that's true.  I counted three basic shades with two to three variations (one towards pink, the other towards ochre) as he moved from dark to light  in a hand detail.  I see a few more in this marvelous portrait. Obviously, simple isn't going to work on Erin. 

With a few moments left in the session,  I attempted a copy of his drawing of The Stone Thrower. It made me chuckle--and wondered if he and the rest of his male artist friends had ever seen a  female naked.  This gal is a guy with tits!  Michelangelo's women were Amazonian as well--probably had to do with orientations and begetting* being done undercover?

*Begetting.  A better word than....and in my mind since Sunday when I watched Inherit The Wind with Spence Tracy and Fredrick March.  --Who did you say?  Two very outstanding actors from the olden days.


  1. OMG!!! I caught my breath when I saw that large image of Holbein's portrait!!! Absolute genius!
    DO NOT BE HARD ON YOURSELF!!! Erin's skin tones are becoming richer and softer every time you work with them. I think a lot of the effect is in the blending, too.

    1. I'm not being hard, I'm just wishing there was a formula for Caucasian skin tones--I see green, pink, rose, Sienna, yellow, but I just keep scumbling along. As my mother once advised me: cook it till it's done. That used to irritate the hell out of me.

      Are Holbein's tones magnificent! They didn't exactly cheer me up. They let me know it was going to be a long haul.

    2. Patience, patience, patience.

  2. Spencer Tracy ... now there's a blast from the past; they don't make 'em like that any more.

    Yes 'flesh tones' is my current battleground. I'm finding the Afro skin tones the easiest to deal with, I guess there are more contrasts.

    I can see what you mean about Holbein, i shall follow your advice - is that Sir/Saint Thomas Moore in the painting?

    The nude comments made me laugh.

    1. The acting was a bit over the top given today's Stanislavsky (method) style, but those guys were great! John Scopes went on to be a successful geologist from the University of Chicago. He was never engaged. Jennings did die, but five days after the "Monkey" trial ended. Darrow went on to champion many rights issues.

      I think I'm going to print out that Holbein painting and hang it near my easel. I could learn much from him--maybe even try to copy that head. Yes, it is Moore.

      The female nudes of that time all looked like this. Ithe artists weren't blind--and they all couldn't have been gay--so it must have been forbidden to paint women as they really are--or else there were some pretty strange women in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands?

  3. I do not think it is the colors he used for the flesh as much as the relationship of all the colors on the face. Look at the lips and the stubble of the beard. The relationships are spot on. Erin's skin will be such a different palette than any you see in the old master paintings and I know you can match it easily.
    I nearly choked laughing so hard at "guy with tits " - funeee!

    1. I first saw these manly woman in Michelangelo's Dusk and Dawn and then in his drawings. After all the female nudity seen in sculpture, paintings and drawings, I really did think these guys had some sort of problem. Holbein's drawing surprised me again.

      Once again , I think I'm dragging due to all the careful work involved in finding Erin's coloration. Bottom line: It's slow and steady. marine's rubber tool is invaluable. I have confiscated a blusher tool from my make-up drawer. Works like a charm. Good for softening edges too.