Hi There! Some studio news: I’ve started a new series in my studio practice and I’ll be exploring expressive mixed media portraits in my typical layered and textured style with a limited palette.

Expressive mixed media portrait with rose pink globes

Over the years, I’ve circled back to portraits many times and each time I’ve tried to capture a personality in more evocative ways as I’ve developed my style. Having gone from realistic works, through a variety of media and levels of impressionism and abstraction, this series is the next step in that upward spiral.

Limited Palette: Zorn with Additions

In this series, I’ll be using a limited palette that’s inspired by the Zorn palette, a set of four basic colors that have been used by many portrait painters throughout history: it consists of yellow ochre, ivory black, vermilion, and titanium white. These colors are surprisingly versatile and can create a range of tones and values, from warm to cool, from light to dark. Generally, I like using a limited palette in a series to help make the individual works cohesive and this modified Zorn really lends itself to portraits of all kinds.

I use a variation with cadmium red in place of the vermilion as well as adding bright magenta, Naples yellow, and chartreuse green to bring vibrancy and contrast to the work. These colors aren’t part of the Zorn palette, but they complement it well and create a harmonious balance. Also, the only green in the traditional Zorn colors comes from mixing the yellow ochre and black to get a dull olive green (which is a fun surprise!) so my favorite light olive/chartreuse is doing double duty.

Limited Palette paint blobs in modified Zorn palette colors

Expressive Portraits – Exploring Mixed Media

I’m really excited to start exploring expressive mixed media portraits again and see where this series takes me. I hope you enjoy these glimpses into my studio practice and creative process. I’ll be sharing more updates and sneak peeks of studio updates and works in progress on my Pinterest account. Follow me there – I’d love to connect with you and hear your thoughts. Thank you for coming with me on the creative path!