Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mud and the Skin of Venus

"Give me mud and I will paint you the skin of Venus." Eugene Delacroix.

When I painted as a teenager, I was taught that there was a formula to create the color of flesh. Later, I forgot this "formula" and subsequently wasted a lot of time trying to rediscover the right combination to mix the color of our skin.
Now I recognize that there is no magic mixture. Our skin (whatever its shade) is so reflective of light that almost anything goes. It becomes a prism for the colors and the light surrounding us both in life and in painting.
So yes, the earth colors, the "mud," used by Delacroix and Titan can make the creamy skin of a Venus. And the saturated cadmiums used by many of today's artists can become the colors of our flesh as well. To see a contemporary kaleidoscope of skin colors, just visit Karin Jurick's 100 Faces.

Somebody's Dream is one of my more straightforward forays into the color of flesh. It's a 20x24 done in open studio.


  1. I love the part where her upper arm disappears into the red of the background...where did you get such a glamorous model with that J. S. Sargent dress ala Madame X?

  2. The dress is one of the model's dancing dresses. Our open studio director knows a wonderful diversity of folks.

  3. This is really lovely, Shirley. How long do you work on a pose in open studio? It looks like you have a wonderful place to paint. Love the pose, as well as the execution.

  4. Thank you, Tonya.
    We have four hours less several break times for model and artists. The place is great, a studio created especially for painting classes. It's big!

  5. You did this in four hours??? Wow! I am truly impressed.

  6. Aw shucks, thanks, Tonya. But as you know, sometimes it just flows. And lots and lots of times, it doesn't! And I have sooo many canvases to prove that last statement.


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...