I love to paint hands. Love them. All the joints and angles and fat parts and skinny parts and knobby parts… are your palms sweating just thinking about it? I, too, used to cringe when I got to hands- all the joints and angles make them a bit of a challenge. Make the fat parts too fat and you get sausage fingers. Too skinny and you get E.T. But get those angles right and… ah, satisfaction. Now, they’re my favorites. So, for practice(and for fun):
Since I’m working on a mid-value background, I layout the general shape, then establish my darks.
Keeping the greenish middle value in mind for the greener areas of my skin, next I lay down the lighter areas
I travel back and forth between dark and light, and really try to capture the color temperature as well
Typically I work with an easel, but in this case I had my panel laying flat so that I could view it from approximately the same angle as the model… by which I mean my hand.
To avoid getting too detailed too soon, I lay my shapes in broadly, with the intention of smoothing and blending later.
By laying the paint down broadly, I can get a feel for the form.
I’m careful about the amount of blending I do. I want the painting to look finished, but I don’t want it to lose its shape.
Click on the images above for more details on my process.
Oh, and here’s my palette. Because that’s fun too!
Look at all the pretty colors… and not one of them labeled as a flesh tone. Reality lies between the lines.
If I was painting someone with a darker skin tone, I would likely use many of these same colors. However, I’d spend more time up top, at the darker end of my color strings. And, of course, the opposite holds true for fair-skinned folk, whose skin tones lie in the lower third of my palette.
So, go out and paint something that scares you. Maybe next I’ll tackle feet… or profiles. Eeek…
This is Baby Monkey. My little girl’s best buddy. Her constant companion for the better part of her life. So loved is Baby Monkey that I worried about her safety, constantly checking to see that she hadn’t been left behind at stores, hotels, airports. The perfect size to clutch in a chubby little 3-year-old fist, she went everywhere with us.
But my little girl isn’t 3 anymore. She’s 6. Tall, headstrong, funny, bold. Baby Monkey stays home most of the time nowadays, no longer making trips to the grocery store and school. Recently, though, after a long day out my daughter said, “I want to go home. I want to go home and see Baby Monkey.”
Hello there stranger! How the heck are ya? Do you even remember me? I’m sure that’s questionable. Remember in my last post I promised you that I would tell you soon what was keeping me so busy. Apparently I lied. I apologize.
See here’s the deal. I had a baby! I say that like it just happened. Oh no. It wasn’t recent. It was so long ago now I’m embarrassed to say. Embarrassed because while a new baby might be a reason to neglect a blog, a 20-month-old, despite the fact that he’s into everything, seems like less of an excuse. The thing is that while I expected that to mean extra work, no one told me that the craziness increases exponentially with each child so that 2 children is somehow through some mathematical mystery 4 times the work. I would imagine that people with 6 children never ever stop moving and never take in any sustenance but the last drops in the bottom of a juice box and the 1/2 a chicken nugget child #4 dropped on the floor that the dog failed to notice. So hats off to those of you that make multiple children look easy. But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes. Kid x 2= Work². However, it’s also Fun², so while there’s extra cleaning messes, laundry, correcting, containing, and refereeing, etc; there’s also extra snuggling, kissing, teaching, learning, and laughing. It’s good. It’s great! But it is busy.
I am very happy to say, though, that work as been busy as well. I’ve done several commissions which I have really really enjoyed. I love the collaboration involved in helping someone flesh out what they want in a painting and bringing it to life. My commissions have ranged from an oil painting done from an old photograph of the client and her mother, to a traditional portrait, to a portrait of a beloved stuffed bunny, to tiny boots and baby knees (plus a couple of pet portraits not shown here). The work has been varied, but so so good with each piece presenting its own challenges, learning opportunities, and rewards. I’ll probably go into detail about some of these in future posts, but for now here’s a brief glimpse of what I’ve been up to since the new kid came along:
Yowzah it’s been a long time since I posted! So long that I forgot my password to log on to my site! I have been very very busy with things that I will share with you at a future point. However, for the moment, I’m STILL busy. I do want to show you a piece that I finished a few months ago, though, that I’ve yet to share. It’s a diptych (which is a fancy way of saying that it’s on two panels). I had so much fun with the colors in the skin tones-greens, violets, reds… To anyone reading this who is not a (totally obsessed with tiny details, value shifts, and color changes) realist artist, that statement probably sounded weird. I mean, caucasian hands should be painted in caucasian flesh tone, right? Yeah right, and grass is green and apples are red. Ok, well, those last two are true even though much more goes into those than meets the eye as well. But skin… how can I begin!? Skin is an organ, right? The largest organ of your whole entire body. It is a living thing with blood flow, covering muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones. And because it’s translucent, those elements underneath affect the color of the skin on top. So, take that complexity and add to it some other factors like form, light, shadow, the hills and valleys that make it look like a hand instead of just a lump of peach or brown clay and it gets pretty colorful. Your amazing brain is so amazing that it takes in all those details and processes them without you even noticing, then says simply to you, “That? That’s a hand.” So, take a minute. Look at the back of your hand. Wiggle your fingers and notice how the shape of the shadows changes as you do so. Pretty cool, huh? Now tell me, what color is your skin?
“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” -Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit
My painting, “Love Letter to the Here and Now” has been accepted into the Meridian Museum of Art’s Bi-State Annual Art Competition. Last week I hand delivered the painting to the museum in downtown Meridian, MS. With a bit of nervousness and one last loving look I left my brainchild in the capable hands of the museum staff. Good luck, Little One!
Hey y’all, remember me? Ages ago I posted (here!) the beginnings of a portrait I was doing of my little girl. However, I just realized I never shared the completed painting. So, I present to you “Love Letter to the Here and Now.”
“Love Letter to the Here and Now” by Erin Hardin- Oil on Linen
The title speaks to both the fact that the prototypical “dad with the video camera” is using a smartphone to record his child’s accomplishments.
Detail from “Love Letter to the Here and Now”
However it also truly is a love letter to my here. My now. Which I have to say, is pretty great.