Another masterpiece of the French painter Serge Franzoia. An excellent painted background with equally good painted figures. Observe how careful selection of vibrant colors can make the theme so eye-pleasing.
For many flat figure painters, myself included, artist oils is the preferred painting medium. They are a versatile painting medium mainly because they have a slow drying time that enables to paint and blend colors and to create shadows and lights quite easily and with no rush. Also mistakes can be corrected easy enough, since you can simply wipe the paint of the figure and reapply it again.
When painting with oils, always try to have a selection of various colors of the best quality you can afford. Personally I am using W & N artist series with an assortment of some specific colors from other brands. Below is a list of the tubes I consider as basic and from which all other colors can be prepared.
- Ivory Black
- Titanium White
- Burnt Umber
- Raw Umber
- Burnt Sienna
- Raw Sienna
- Yellow Ochre
- Prussian Blue
- Cobalt Blue
- Cadmium Red
- Cadmium Yellow
Theoretically by combining these basic colors someone can produce literary any color or any hue available. A great help can be a color wheel which shows what happens when two colors combine. Remember also what we said in the chapter about general thoughts of paint about complementary colors.
Some basic knowledge of the color wheel and some good use of it can produce virtually any coloring possibility available.
Whatever oil colors we have in our disposal is useful to know their properties, how they behave alone or in combination with other colors. Some are opaque, some are transparent so their coverage degree is not the same. While we can use an opaque color alone or combined with some other for basic coverage of a surface, we can use a transparent one, thinned as a glaze to change the tone of another surface. For example we can warm up a white tunic by a careful application of a yellow transparent glaze in one or two coats. Some are very strong like for example Prussian blue. Use them sparingly. When pigment comes out of the tube usually come along with the oil they are mixed with. Put a small quantity of the color you want to work with on your palette, (anything can work as a palette, I usually use a glass with rounded edges covered with an absorptive white paper), let it settle for a moment and then add, with the tip of the brush, some white spirit and mix thoroughly. Consistency of the oil should be like “ warm butter” as Shep Paine says. Apply it on the figure and then take the excess oil with a dry brush. Leave only a thin layer of oil color onto the figure. Now we are ready to add our shadows and highlights with some darker and lighter tones that we have either premade or we can do it straight onto our figure using a lighter or darker tone of the same color. Avoid white or black for this job. Although they are neutral colors they tend to alter our primary color. Careful blending of the edges with a dry brush is imperative so we won’t end with a sea of mud onto our figure. When figure is completely dried we can come back and enhance some shadow or highlight areas some more until we are satisfied with the result.
“Snail Mail” figures from Detlef Belaschk painted by Jerry Mortimore.
Observing carefully the selection of the accompanying photographs and putting what we have discussed so far on them, you can more readily understand how things work practically onto a figure.
Burgundian Romance by Scholtz (edited by Fritz Menz) painted by the very talented artist Catherine Cesario