Because the grass will stand in front of the Empress’ legs I’ve decided to paint the skin now, then work on the grass over the top of it. This will be a lot better than trying to paint flesh around all the fiddly stems and leaves once the grass is in. It was such a pleasure to get some colour onto the palette at last!
I have seven brushes in use with different colours on each: a mini fan for blending subtle areas, a round with light flesh mixed from Foundation White, Cadmium Orange and a touch of Viridian; a long handled filbert loaded with Foundation White; a round with some Burnt Sienna; a small round with Raw Sienna; a small round carrying a slightly blue version of the flesh colour; another small round with a dark blue mixed with Burnt Sienna, creating a nice rich dark value that I use extremely sparingly to avoid muddiness.Â I’ll paint at least one more layer of glaze over this layer of skin.
I use my fingers a lot to move the paint around, especially at first when I applied a thin glaze of Foundation White over the Brown and grey underpainting. I like to work in a manner similar to the Pre-Raphaelites, putting down a layer of white over the grisaille, then blending colour into the white.
In this first layer of flesh I aimed for general areas of colour, then used the filbert with the white to add highlight areas that stand up from the surface with a little texture for some drama. I want the hand to come forward, so there’s more texture in the paint showing the transition of light over the darker areas. I’ll redraw the hands and re-examine the flesh in the next couple of layers to clean it up a bit.