Until now, I have painted skin tones with a blend of pinks, oranges, and purples, regardless of whether the lighting in my painting was overcast, sunny, indoors, or at night. I've known for a long time that in such changes of light, leaves are not always green, and that the sky is not always blue. But for some reason I've blithely used the same paints for skin and hair in any lighting.
(Left to right: overcast sky, night sky, sunlight.)
For the past few months I have been working through James Gurney's Color and Light, and I finally made the discovery that if I want to paint realistic lighting, I have to change the colors I use to paint skin (as well as sky, earth, trees, etc). I don't know why I didn't realize this before.
In one of his blogposts, Gurney made a reference to variations in lighting in The Lord of the Rings films, particularly Gandalf's reappearance in Fangorn Forest in The Two Towers. The lighting in this scene is very close to the light and mood I'm trying to create in my current painting.
I got out my DVD and paused it in several places to some quick sketches of Gandalf and Legolas:
Instead of my usual pinks and purples, I neutralized everything with Davy's Grey. I love Davy's Grey. Since I bought this paint I've used it more than any other color.