ripresa (ripresa) wrote,

Painting: Bernard (and musing on skin tones)

Today we had a live model, Bernard. It's interesting working with an actual person, because that person is like an object that you're trying to capture for your art. He sits still for a long time, and then when he talks, and interacts with you, it's like.. your art talking back to you, and telling you what he thinks of his lips on your canvas. How odd.

I admire his ability to sit still for such long periods of time. He says that he centers himself, and finds it relaxing.

Everyone was using all sorts of dark brown (Bernard is black), and I saw the colors the other students were using, and didn't want to do something like that.. I tried explaining it to the instructor, and he said, "too cliche".. and i agreed. It's hard to explain, but it was just so sterotypically, cartoony... black. It's like, hey, I'm drawing a black person, let's make his coloring really dark brown. I think there really aren't that many shades of differences between white folks and black folks. Especially when you paint in shadows and light. And you could probably use the same method of underpainting and color palettes for both.

Anyways, I thought, let me just paint him blue. This really sounded like a good idea at that time, as I wanted my painting to look different from the other students since I didn't like their skin tone choice. I talked to another student, she's Indian, and she's like, the Indian Gods are actually really really dark skinned, black almost, but when dipicted in pictures, they always use blue. I knew that Krishna is always drawn blue, but I didn't realize he was supposed to be really really dark skinned. I really thought he was blue in color. This was quite a revelation to me (I grew up on Indian myths, so it's like finding out that .. umm...  snow doesn't fall in nice spherical balls (which I discovered when I first saw snow in Cornell. You see, that's how they depict snow in cartoons and pictures..))

Anyways, so I painted him blue, with purple/red shadows. And light blue for highlights. And then I realized, the painting was looking rather ghastly (not the actual painting, it was rather nice, but the subject was looking ghastly). And when Bernard was taking a break, he took in the other students paintings, made minor remarks about them.... then went over to mine in the corner, and took a step backward in surprise.
  "You totally just went against everything.  Totally left field!"
  I smiled apologetically.
   "I look like a Zombie!"
  I smiled reassuringly, "It'll look more alive when I do the eyes..."

I thought about it more. I don't want to do a zombie painting. I mean, it was interesting. But finally, I decided to put in browns and skin tones, and it actually worked really well with the blues underneath. The instructor really liked the colors, my Indian friend really liked the colors, and I really liked how it all came out. So that was a nice serendipity.

It's interesting how I usually paint impressionist style, but with faces somehow I always get more realistic style.

Anyways, here is Bernard. I am quite pleased with the painting.

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