The “Skin”ny on Skin

Forgive the title…I’m kind of a dork…

Yowzah it’s been a long time since I posted! So long that I forgot my password to log on to my site! I have been very very busy with things that I will share with you at a future point. However, for the moment, I’m STILL busy. I do want to show you a piece that I finished a few months ago, though, that I’ve yet to share. It’s a diptych (which is a fancy way of saying that it’s on two panels). I had so much fun with the colors in the skin tones-greens, violets, reds… To anyone reading this who is not a (totally obsessed with tiny details, value shifts, and color changes) realist artist, that statement probably sounded weird. I mean, caucasian hands should be painted in caucasian flesh tone, right? Yeah right, and grass is green and apples are red. Ok, well, those last two are true even though much more goes into those than meets the eye as well. But skin… how can I begin!? Skin is an organ, right? The largest organ of your whole entire body. It is a living thing with blood flow, covering muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones. And because it’s translucent, those elements underneath affect the color of the skin on top.  So, take that complexity and add to it some other factors like form, light, shadow, the hills and valleys that make it look like a hand instead of just a lump of peach or brown clay and it gets pretty colorful. Your amazing brain is so amazing that it takes in all those details and processes them without you even noticing, then says simply to you, “That? That’s a hand.” So, take a minute. Look at the back of your hand. Wiggle your fingers and notice how the shape of the shadows changes as you do so. Pretty cool, huh? Now tell me, what color is your skin?

Tug of Love

Tug of Love, detail

Love Letter to the Here and Now

Hey y’all, remember me? Ages ago I posted (here!) the beginnings of a portrait I was doing of my little girl. However, I just realized I never shared the completed painting. So, I present to you “Love Letter to the Here and Now.”

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“Love Letter to the Here and Now” by Erin Hardin- Oil on Linen

The title speaks to both the fact that the prototypical “dad with the video camera” is using a smartphone to record his child’s accomplishments.

Detail from "Love Letter to the Here and Now"

Detail from “Love Letter to the Here and Now”

However it also truly is a love letter to my here. My now. Which I have to say, is pretty great.

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My here. My now.

Let’s Try This Again, Part III

Bit by bit I’m moving along on this painting. I’m loving it, but my little one has decided naps are for chumps so I’m not getting to work on it much. That’s ok. Next week she starts pre-school so I’m trying to soak up every sweet, frustrating, fun, non-work productive, bonding, silly, frivolous, educational, and mundane moment with her. I have the rest of my life to work. Here and there, though, I have made some progress on it.

Last post I showed you my rub-out underpainting:

Now for the fun part- color! Here’s what I’ve done so far, plus a couple of detail shots.

Don’t you love skin tones? Look at all the colors in there- greens, pinks, violets- and I can promise you there’s not a bit of pre-mixed “Caucasian Flesh Tone” on my palette. Where would be the fun in that?

Ok. Let’s Try This Again, Part II

Last post I showed you this value study I did in preparation for my next painting-

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Value study on Ampersand Oil Paper 6″x8″

Now I’m ready to start on the real deal.  First, the drawing:

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Drawing on canvas in sepia pen

Next, the rub-out. I’ve found that my initial little value study helps with this step. The more familiar you are with your subject and your values, the better. 

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Burnt Umber Rub-out

Next up: My favorite part- the magic part. Painting. Stay tuned. 

 

 

 

Ok. Let’s try this again

A while ago I showed you this in-progress picture:

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with the promise that you would see it transform along the way into a finished painting. I lied. I didn’t mean to! Sometimes I just can’t finish a painting. There’s certainly something to be said for committing to a project; working until your idea comes to fruition; pressing on until the bitter end. But there’s also something to be said for stopping when you realize that what you’re working on just isn’t “you” anymore. That is not to say the same attitude should apply to every situation that bores you, or even to every painting, but of all the commitments you could flake on in life this is one case where the earth will not shatter, hearts will not break, and jobs will not be lost (unless, of course, it’s a commission- which this was not so I’m free to do what I want. So there!).

Now, let’s try this again with a painting I know I’ll finish- in part because I’m much more more in love with the subject matter. A portrait of my daily life.

To start I did a value study:

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Value study on Ampersand Oil Paper, 6″x8″

A quick laying down of the lights and darks of my composition. This is done on a small scale (in proportion to the size and shape of the finished painting) quickly and loosely, with no gridding, no drawing, and no blending. The purpose of this step is just to help you check the balance of lights and darks in your painting. For example, this composition stands alone because it is primarily dark with a bright white center of interest. When paintings edge too much toward mid-range in value, they get dull no matter what your colors or subject. Value studies are helpful, though because you don’t get distracted by the pretty colors or elaborate patterns and you can really see the bones of the picture. So far, so good. And I’m not a bit bored.