227 my hand in watercolour


I don’t know much about colours, but approaching this one, i thought that i saw some red and some green in my hand. These two tints are ofcourse very sutle on a base of “skin-tone” – i don’t know what else to call this color – but i didn’t know how to get the skin-tone, so i just went directly ahead with the red and green. Obviously this hand looks quite dangerous.. But think that it works well as an exaggerated representation of colour.. (Maybe I’m thinking a bit about the french impressionists who managed to see colours where others didn’t)

Does anybody know how to get a better skin tone in watercolour? Should i start with a white pigment and just blend a little red in, or do you recommend that a go out and buy the specific colour i need?

0 thoughts on “227 my hand in watercolour”

  1. A lot of artists do use a touch of green, especially terre verte because it’s weak tinting enough to be used for more subtle adjustments. That’s not to say anyone who says they “see green” in a skin tone is actually literally seeing it, but rather they’re thinking in terms of how to mix it and thinking that a touch of green would neutralize the color a bit to make it more natural. It’s actually impossible under normal conditions to see both red and green at the same time within the same patch of color when you read about the opponent process of color theory. Skin tone tends to lean a little more orange than just red, depending on the person, so a mix of yellow and red ochres with a tiny amount of terre verte to prevent it from being too intensely colored makes a good skin tone. With darker skin you may want to use some umbers. Different artists have their own way reaching the mix they want, so I’ve heard of people using just cadmium orange and terre verte or instead of green using a little ultramarine violet along with a different balance in the yellow/red ochre mix. In oil paint I’ve seen a very realistic portrait painted with just white, black, and mars violet. Of course, the actual color of an object changes depending on lighting, so technically just about any color could be “correct” in the right lighting, so using different colors would suggest different lighting conditions. In color value tends to be more important than hue though.

  2. Your watercolour sketch shows that you’re doing a lot of drawing! ๐Ÿ™‚ – By the way, many years ago I did one sketch of my hand every morning…

    As for using colours, there are zillions of possible approaches; here three (of many) basic ones:

    “Realistic” colour = changes with the light of the surroundings. Hold a large, bright red or blue object close to your hand – you’ll see what I mean.

    “Emotional” colour = I think you’re on to that already; you “feel” (that is have the impression or want to express) that red and green on a hand looks dangerous. more or less that’s about how we’re wired to react to certain colours or colour combinations.

    “Spatial” colour (maybe there’s a specific term for that which I don’t know) = bright and warm colours seem to come forward in a painting whereas neutrals and cool colours recede. Have a look at Paul Cezanne’s paintings!

  3. White is a big no-no in watercolour…just dilute the paint for lighter shades, and the white of the paper is the white in the painting. I really admire your courage to dive into a new territory and to share your work…good luck with the learning!


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