Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Painting Under Cool Light.

"Zumba Wrap"
By Johanna Spinks
Oil and Gold Leaf On Archival Board
free shipping

Come study with me this Friday, March 8th,  at my First Friday Atelier (delayed!) in the beautiful Malibu Highlands. 

 We will be painting from the life model under cool light conditions pretty similar to this sketch I painted at the weekend at my pal Jeremy Lipking's studio. He sure knows a thing or two about cool light and lots of folks had flown in for the weekend to see how he makes cool magic. Lipking's approach has made him one of today's most successful young figurative artists in the world. View his work: here

I have been lucky enough to be around Lipking quite a lot over the last year consolidating my art thoughts on a few things: first, that Lipking is truly a master of cool, among other things, and secondly, if one follows a few rules things seem to go a lot smoother.

Basically the rule of thumb is "where there is cool light, there are warm shadows". Art rules are usually meant to be broken but  I haven't seen this one broken too well.   If you have cool light and cool shadows, your sketch will be fit for the morgue - or the sitter will sure look like he/she is heading that way. Also, one can really push the shadows, making them warmer than they appear on the sitter. Transparent shadows are good too of course

Artists seem to have trouble with this cool skin stuff often sticking to the 'mustard and ketchup' approach,  mixing between a basic white, yellow and red to get PEACH. Many seem to paint PEACH for years before throwing a cool into it. 

I find it helps to have a basic mid-value mix on the palette that is cool,  to dip all my light mixtures into, avoiding any yellows until much later on.  That yellow will of course be a very cool one. Lemon yellow comes to mind. On this sketch, I used a grey pre-mix the color of fawn suede. Some super cool mauves, blues and pinks are handy to have around too.  Lipking taught me this. I don't think he would mind me sharing with you that he favors a mauve mix made from alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and white. He has been using this mix now for years.

I wouldn't get away perhaps with this cool skin tone on a portrait commission but, hey, art collectors of my non-portrait work seem, well, quite peachy about it.

Jeremy Lipking teaches year-round, all information at

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