Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flesh Tones & Watercolors (A Cowboy Demonstration Painting)

          I get a lot of requests and pleas for help from beginning artists.  They usually fall into one of two categories:   1)  Fundamental drawing problems (which most beginners perceive as painting problems), or    2)  Mixing the wrong color based on selecting the wrong tube of paint; i.e. they pick a cool Blue when they should have chosen a warm Blue.
     Today I want to tackle a sub-area of Problem 2 and give you a starting point to deal with flesh tones using watercolors.  Generally flesh tones require the use of red, yellow and blue.  My flesh tone palette is simple and provides a great starting point.
     Beginning today, and for the rest of the week, I plan to demonstrate how to effectively use this flesh tone palette.  I am posting a photo that we will be painting from…. Yes, that’s right, you can paint right along with me, and that applies to Beginners as well as Advanced artists.

     If you choose to take my challenge and follow this insightful demonstration, this is what you will need:
  1. A small piece of 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper (Arches or Lana will be fine.)   Our painting image is 5 x 7.
  2. The following Winsor & Newton watercolors:  Indian Yellow, Burnt Sienna, Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red Light.
  3. HB pencil for your drawing.
    So, the first thing you need to do is print out this photo and draw or transfer it to your paper.    Tomorrow I will show you my drawing, and how I simplified it and broke into shadow side and light side.  Then the next day we’ll apply our first glaze!
     This should be fun and eye opening, so tell your art friends to stop by and observe or participate.
     I will tackle the hat and the wild rag around this cowboy’s neck in sections, so you can see the entire process.  And I would like for you to let me know if you’re interested in doing more paint-along demonstrations (I call them Footstep Paintings).
     Also give me some feedback on the blog.  I have tried to keep it informal and fun and still cover a variety of subjects, from personal to technical.  So be honest…. I can take it.
     So click on the photo, print it, and come back tomorrow for my drawing breakdown.  

All content and images © Mark Kohler Studio.



  1. So, here is your feedback... This post makes me wish I was a painter! (Now, back to writing.)

  2. Besides being very clean, uncluttered and pleasant to look at, what I really like about your blog, Mark, is that not only is it interesting, enlightening and educational, but on a more selfish level, it inspires me as an artist to keep going and doing what I love to do. So glad about all you are sharing with us through your blog.

  3. I couldn't ask for more! This is what I'm hoping to accomplish with this blog, so you've both inspired me to keep going. If I ever get off track, don't hesitate to steer me back on the right trail.

  4. Mark, I haven't picked up anything to do with art since we lost Sue. Darned if you don't inspire me to try again. This is an amazing thing you're doing and I may get some things out and try it. Thanks for being such an inspiration.

  5. Really enjoy the blog. I can see a book coming out of all this.

  6. Mark, what a wonderful refresher course! Easy and precise instructions. This will definitely help me "brush up" on my skills. Thank you for blogging and sharing your talent.