Sunday, 6 September 2015

Hand bones, finished and painted

My goal here was to get a nice layered finish on the hand bones.  I find bone hard to paint, partly because it's tricky to mix a convincing bone colour that isn't too yellow or too brown or too white, and partly because bone has a translucent quality to it that's hard to emulate.  I got as close as I could with a complicated process that involves four separate layers:


  • A mix of ultramarine blue and burnt umber.  This is what a painter would call the underpainting.
  • A fairly thick coat of the main colour, which is achieved by mixing white, ochre, burnt sienna, burnt umber, and a tiny bit of ultramarine. 
  • A thin wash of white with a very small amount of ochre.
  • Another thin wash of ultramarine and burnt umber which I wipe off with a rag until only traces of it are left.  This settles in the low-lying areas of the sculpt, where it brings out the details and creates shadow.  It also helps delineate where one bone ends and the next one begins.








Mostly I use regular tap water to thin the paint when I make colour washes, but this time I used glazing medium.  It behaves differently to water.  When water dries it evaporates, leaving only the pigment behind, but glazing medium is essentially a form of varnish and retains some body even after it dries.  This gives it a bit more depth and rounds out the shape of the sculpture slightly.