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Painting skin

My first painting in Mark's style is LUCIA.  It's based on a photograph that might have been modified in Photoshop and so the colors are a little strange.  the problem, however, is that when I use Burnt Umber, red, yellow and white to mix skin colors, the burnt Umber makes the paint appear purple.  My only way around this was to pile lots of red into the white and then add yellow to kind of get a bit of depth to the color. Does anyone else have any ideas?  Kind regards  Dianna


  • dencaldencal -
    edited September 2018
    What brand of BU are you using?
    How about posting a picture of your purple skin?

    French Burnt Umber, PBr 7, is a ferric oxide, which manifests a lighter purple biased version of Burnt Umber. It tints similar to a weak Violet Oxide.


  • HI Denis -- I'm using the Geneva Burnt Umber. I'm determined to do exactly what Mark Carder says to do, but it's difficult!!!! I've managed to keep the purple out of the face, but only by avoiding Burnt Umber.  I just can't create the darker shadows required on the rest of the painting without using Burnt Umber. And in fact, I really need deeper shadows around the eyes on the face.  I couldn't manage to post both my painting and the original in the one post, but I will upload it in a separate post.  I would appreciate your advice. I was hoping you would respond.  Kind regards  Dianna
  • Here is the original photo I'm using.  Kind regards  Dianna
  • Dianna

    Looking good at this stage.

    Are you premixing and using a colour checker?

    I think you are missing ultramarine blue in your mix.

    Have a look at Mark’s video on skin tones again from 11 minutes in.


  • HI Denis ---   My head is spinning!  I am finding that so much of mixing color is counter-intuitive if you know what I mean! You might be right about the blue. I have not added any blue because my logic is, if the paint appears purple, that means the blue in the Burnt Umber is reacting with the red I am naturally using to create skin tone, thereby creating purple. So my logic is, why would I want to add more blue?  Instead I add more red and then counter too much red by adding yellow. (Incidentally, did my picture of the painting so far come through, or just the photograph?)  Anyway, I just did a little experiment with Burnt Umber and added yellow which is the opposite of purple and I must say the color did seem more brown than purple after that. I will now watch Mark talking about mixing flesh tones but first I might mention that I have watched every single video Mark has made, and as well as that I've bought the How to Paint a Portrait video. I've made notes on everything I've watched -- and yet this issue has completely escaped my attention. Anyway, I will now watch the video. Thank you for your help.  I will post again when I've finished.  Kind regards  Dianna
  • I am not using a color-checker because I check the color directly with the gloss photograph.

  • Well!  I have watched the part of the video you recommended at about 11minutes.  So the opposite of red is NOT yellow, it's GREEN which is yellow AND blue!!!  How can I possibly not know this after all the studying I've done of Mark's work and as well as that I have one of Mark's Color Wheels on the wall and I refer to it from time to time!  It's beyond me!!  But anyway, I have seen the error of my ways and I can't wait to get into mixing my skin colors now.  It's kind of funny when you think about it.  I will post my new results and thank you very much for your help.  Kind regards  Dianna  (I am so thrilled to have an answer!)
  • Dianna

    Yes it is counterintuitive. Adding blue will be a darkening and greying component.
    This will allow more yellow, red and white to be used giving more warmth to the skiin tone.
    Conversly, burnt umber will be present but a less dominant factor.


  • Thank you again.  I will start fresh tomorrow morning and see where this new information takes me!  Kind regards  Dianna
  • Too early for me to critique it much.
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