Thursday, January 12, 2012

Amy, 8x10"

I painted this very small portrait of Amy last night in Open Studio at Mainstreet. I've noticed that there has been some discussion on the web lately about the three color zones of the face, and it occurred to me that this painting might help to illustrate the concept. (Fine Arts Views)

The theory of the three zones is that the top third of the face will have a yellow orientation, the middle will be in the red zone, and the lowest third will be blue. If we think about the head as an egg shape in the light, then it stands to reason that the area closest to the light will be warmest, and therefore have a warm (perhaps yellowish) orientation. The middle of the face is fleshier and has more blood flowing under the surface, giving a reddish or pinkish color. Then, as the face turns away from the light in the lowest portion, the temperature often turns cooler, where you will find blue or greenish hues.

If you look at Amy above, you can see that her forehead and the top of her cheekbones have a warm yellowish hue, her cheeks are pinkish, and then her jaw area has cool blues and greens in the skin tone. This theory is very helpful when you are trying to vary the skin tones in a portrait, because it serves as a guide. Of course, rules are made to be broken, and only careful observation of the model will tell you what color to put where. But I hope this was a bit helpful!


  1. Interesting about the color zones. That would be affected by the light and background color. I'll be on the lookout now! Check out these portraits:

  2. Thank you for sharing the information on color zones, Ann. I have to admit the concept is something new to me, but it makes perfect sense. This will be helpful!

  3. It makes sense. Good basic rule. Thanks

  4. A wonderfully done painting, Ann.
    Color zones is news to me. Thanks for the tip.