Verdaccio is a greenish gray color achieved by mixing of black (often mars , yellow, and white. It’s used by old masters for underpainting, especially in fresco painting. In portrait or figure painting, the greenish gray served as a complementary to the pinkish flesh color, and it also creates a contrast in temperature. The result is a more vibrant skin tone.
Contemporary artist Cuong Nguyen applies the verdaccio technique to not only oil painting, but also pastel and watercolor, with stunning result.
Here is a poster from his oil painting workshop:
Here is a screenshot from his pastel drawing youtube video:
You can see in pastel drawing, Cuong really pushes the green. Another sample from him:
Don’t be fooled by the layout of the above poster though. This is not a 4 or 5 step drawing. You need to sharpen your pastel pencils, apply lightly, and work many, many, many layers.
I tried this method in a simplified way during a life drawing session, and here’s the result:
Since camera was not allowed during life drawing, I didn’t record the early stage of this piece. I did start with leaf green, and my fellow artists thought I was going for a Halloween theme. Here are some other things I noticed:
- CarbOthello pastel pencils are great. Versatility and control at the same time.
- While it takes many layers to cover the green, a little bit showing through is not that bad. After all, our veins are sort of that color.
- If you want to achieve Cuong’s level realism, you need a better quality paper to take more layers; keep your pencils sharp (which I totally ignored), and a lot of patience.
- Be careful about the fixatives. I used Krylon Workable Fixatif. It makes my drawing darker and grainier.
Some day, I’ll try this verdaccio technique in oil.