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.