Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Mixing Peachy Flesh Tones

Portrait by Charles Reid
Last year shortly before the first Sketch Seminar, I first came across the beautiful watercolor portraits by Charles Reid. If you haven't seen his portraits before do yourself a favor and go remedy that at once!
Photos provided by "Watercolour Fanatic"

Until that point I'd been using a water soluble crayon in something like a peach tone for my sketches. There is is just something about the way Reid's colors melt into one another that made me feel like I had to try his method.

After a little digging in search engine results I came upon a video clip where he shares his color recipe. You can watch it here.
washes of this recipe in various intensities

Reid's basic recipe:
2 parts cadimum red
1 part cadimum yellow
dot cerulean blue (worked out)

Now I haven't been working with watercolors very long so there are some colors that just baffle me! Yes, that is to say that I don't own cerulean blue. Instead I subbed my cheap phthalo blue. I think it worked well – when I remembered to work out the pigment before adding it to the mix!

Photo taken from Gurney's Blog Post
I really enjoy using this mix of colors in combination with this guide for color points I found on James Gurney's blog. (Another artist worth investigating!) Of course there is a way to use this guide that looks suspiciously like a clown, but with moderation and enough water things tend to level out. Below is a study I did with Reid's color mix and Gurney's hints.

Even though I still over work my paint relatively often I greatly prefer this method for peachy tones to my crayon. Why? Well, with a dash of yellow ochre or raw sienna can really shake up the tone. Mixing these tones instead of using a pre-made color brick is also great because it gives a gradient between colors that really shows off the benefits of watercolors.

What about you, do you prefer premixed colors or mixing your own? Why? Do you have a favorite peachy recipe? How about other skin tones?


  1. Great post! Charles Reid is one of my favorite artists! I love his sense of color but I also love that he says (to paraphrase) it makes little difference what colors you use as long as you get the values right.

  2. No Cads in my palette but I use his general system. Raw Sienna, Pyrrol Scarlet, a touch of Cerulean Chromium and plenty of water. I may have to try substituting the RS with Azo Yellow just to see how it works!

    Another great post... thank you!