Using a thoroughly modern medium like acrylic paint, doesn't mean you can't get the classic look of chiaroscuro.
I share my workflow for a chiaroscuro palette for flesh tones in acrylic paint.
Chiaroscuro means strong contrast between light and dark. It was used by Renaissance and Baroque painters to create volume when painting three-dimensional objects and figures.
I've been desperate to master this effect in acrylics. For the skin tones in my last piece, I finally achieved the look I was aiming for - and it was a lot simpler than I imagined.
Roger de Piles Flesh Tone Palette
The inspiration for my acrylic chiaroscuro palette came from an extract from Roger de Piles Les Élémens de Peinture Pratique, (The Elements of Painting Practice) written in 1684 which I found whilst researching natural pigments.
The book is based on the notes de Piles made whilst translating Charles Alphonse Du Fresnoy’s De Arte Graphica (1668) from Latin to French.
Roger de Piles (pronounced 'day peel') was a French painter, engraver, art critic and diplomat who lived in the latter part of the 17th century. De Piles introduced the term 'clair-obscur' (chiaroscuro), to highlight the effect of color in accentuating the tension between light and dark in a painting during his famous defence of Rubens in his book Dialogue sur le Coloris (Dialogue on Colours).
The website where I found the extract used examples of colours from their own oil colour range - the Roger de Piles Flesh Tone Palette but of course I needed to find acrylic equivalents. Several days of research later, I emerged with my own acrylic chiaroscuro flesh tone palette.