Introduction to Oil Painting #8: Sepia and Sanguine

We are exploring earth tones. Earth tones are muted versions of spectral hues and generally come in two flavors: Yellow (sepia) and Red (sanguine). Add an earth tone to any spectral hue to mute it or extend its value range.  I raided my paintbox to find all earthy reds and yellows, then I made some color swatches showing the pure hue, tint, tone and shade of each.

Top to bottom: tube hue, tint, tone, shade.

Top:  Spectral yellow, Naples Yellow, Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Raw Umber, Sepia

Bottom:  Spectral scarlet, Red Oxide, Quinacridone orange, Burnt Sienna, Mars Red, Caput Mortuum, Burnt Umber


Earth tones were obtained from the land in central and southern Europe.  As artists were introduced to pigments such as Lapis Lazuli from Persia, their paintings acquired more vibrancy.


Titian, Bacchus and Ariadne, 1522-23

Two studies using sepia tones and sanguine tones:





Frans Hals, Clown with a Lute, c.1623

After sensitizing to the difference in the palettes, I combined them and added a complementary ultramarine blue to enhance color temperature and make shades.  The combined palette has a naturalistic and classical feel to it. You may want to play with this palette for awhile.

White (flake or titanium), naples yellow, raw sienna, burnt sienna, raw umber and ultramarine dark.



Make a drawing in graphite or charcoal,then  trace over marks with thinned sepia.




Albert Herter uses a similar palette in this painting.
Albert Herter, Young Woman with Dogwood, 1891

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