Do you remember the fad of the eighties about “having your colours done”? I do, if only because I got saddled with a pastel palette. Always having had strong colour preferences, the experience of having them assigned ticked me off and I have made a point of avoiding these colours since.
Yet it does start me thinking about the colours we already possess. Not the obvious two: eye and hair colour, though both can tweaked, as my ancient green contact lenses could attest. I’m thinking more about the colours below and above the skin surface and the shadow. They are the real deal.
Let’s start with the obvious, such as strong skin colour. Jon is a case in point. I played with that classic Scots high colour in ”Jon - detail” (in Portraiture) by setting him in strong evening sun which bleached part of his face and deepened his cheek. To a lesser degree, “The Private Joke” (glaze oil on panel) also employs contrasts of light and shadow to emphasize his ruddy colouring. Both portraits depended on strong daylight to set up the pose and utilize his distinctive hues.
But we live in Canada, don’t we!! Few of us boast that lovely deep tone, even in summer. For heaven's sake, most of us are fish-belly white from November to April. Here is where I count on setting my subject next to a sunny window. Side light is a huge help in defining features and creating warmth. With that boost, the subtle palette of “De” becomes a play between rosy skin and green eyes. On the other side of that glass it was minus 25. Daylight rules again! Use it when you find it.
Next post: More on finding colour.