Peroxide Blonde

Peroxide Blonde by Sara Light-Waller

Back in the old days women dyed their hair white-blonde. It was the sexy thing of the moment during the late 1920’s and ’30’s. They used peroxide to do this style of bleaching and the color was called “peroxide blonde.” If you look at the way this type of white-blonde hair was treated in period art you can see that if the artist intended to highlight the whiteness of the hair, they’d show a lot of colorful highlights. (Kind of like a played-down version of the shiny lights you’d see in tinsel. ) If they were highlighting the blondeness of the hair, the colors would skew towards light honey blonde.

I was curious to try and capture those “tinsel-like” highlights in the hair and created an oil pastel portrait to try it out. In this “glamour-style” portrait I’ve also highlighted the woman’s powdered complexion, which was also popular at the time. The whiteness of the skin also reflects reflected light and you can see many colors in the skin tone which mirror the colors in the hair. Capturing more accurate and interesting skin tones was one of my original intentions for trying oil pastels and I’m delighted to see how well that’s working out.

I chose a sandy-colored velour paper for this piece. The painting is 11″ x 14″. It was inspired by two separate pieces by Modest Stein from the mid/late 1930’s.

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