A Very Good Way to practice your colour mixing skills is to paint a fashion figure wearing clothing with folds and shine, especially garments that have a lining of the same colour as the garment. For this particular lesson we were looking at trends in women’s work clothing. The garments were all of a brown colour. So this gave great opportunity to mix up a range of these wonderful warm colours.

Burnt Umber or Van Dyke Brown make a very good base colour to mix other browns. To make a brown spectrum:- Burnt Umber + Ivory Black (all these are 50/50 mixes, you can vary this as you go and then the list becomes endless!), Burnt Umber + Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber + Light Red, Burnt Umber + Yellow. So you will have four browns to work with, which you use in varying degrees of tone.

Start with the lady on the right of the painting. Paint in the skin tone first, I usually use a Skin Tone from a tube and add one other colour for shading on skin. I used a blue for the eyes and one of my dark browns for the eyebrows and eyelids. Underpaint the brown hair with a yellow. When that is 100% dry overpaint with varying red biased browns.

The darkest brown colours are the shadows cast by the woman’s figure on the left. Work Dark to Light, negative space painting will make the shape of the women’s figure. The folds and creases on the skirt give the shape of the body inside, work this wet on wet so the tones of the colours merge together. When dry you can add more definite shape of the creases.

For the lady on the left, follow the same pattern of method, starting with the face and hair. The browns of her clothing are more pink biased, consider adding a skin tone to the browns you use. The stockinged legs: use the lightest tone of a light brown and add stronger tone for the shadows. The large cast shadow of the two figures is an important part of this composition as it anchors them to the page and binds the two shapes together.

I worked on this painting over three days as I worked in glazes so I could get the tones as strong as I could.