2. The Ground:
You can see the color and value in this image. It's a very strong and flexible ground. In fact, you will tear the canvas before you would be able to remove it. This is very important, as this ground is like nothing I've ever painted on before. Mix the Blanc de Meudon with boiled linseed oil very thoroughly, about 30% boiled linseed oil.
This is very important: Mix it with a large palette knife until it's a very thick consistency and you feel strong resistance when mixing - almost to the point where it begins to crumble, but is still a viscous fluid. Also important: You must add enough opaque oil paint so that the ground is not transparent! Odd uses burnt sienna, yellow ochre, titanium white, and a little mars black to neutralize the color. But he also sometimes mixes mars black and yellow ochre to produce a nice green ground. He adds titanium white for opacity, which you'll find absolutely necessary. Or you can use only titanium white if you want a light ground for more luminosity. This works well if your technique relies on a lot of glazing. A light ground will not work if you are scraping and sanding. You apply it straight to the canvas that has already been sized with rabbit skin glue (or PVA sizing for an alternative) with a large palette knife. Scrape it smooth so that the ground rests in the furrows of the weave and a thin layer on the ridges. Try not to leave any ridges from the palette knife. Let that dry for two or three days and repeat. 2 layers should be fine. You should be able to paint on it after a week.
Essentially, gesso is a cheaper replacement for this. Gesso is chalk suspended in oil, but the stuff that you buy in the stores is not ground as finely, nor is it as absorbent as blanc de Meudon. Blanc de meudon is composed of particles of calcium carbonate, also known as Precipitated chalk, or Spanish Whiting). It is the main component of limestone and chalk.
It is composed of a very fine chalk and boiled linseed oil. He, of course, uses the finest of both. But I have found that quality chalk is more important than the oil, so since I'm on a budget, I go for the good chalk and use merely decent boiled linseed oil as opposed to the stuff that he uses, which he has specially made for him.
Odd uses anything and everything can find. So, there's little I can tell you here. He tends to like cheap brushes, but keeps a few nicer ones around.
Take note of the pre-mixed colors. He has chosen these specific values and tubed the mixtures in order to make modeling flesh faster and easier. This is one thing (as well as great skill and years of experience) that enables him to mix color right on the canvas as he goes without mixing on his palette.
The palette alone is also not the trick to great flesh tones. It has to do with nuances created in the process of painting between the palette, application of broken color, textural variations, and subtle layers of semi-opaques, glazes, velaturas, semi-transparents, etc... which makes the flesh look luminous, semi-transparent, and thus: lifelike and beautiful.
Here's an old posting I did on technique that will be quite helpful. Oil Painting Techniques: Glazing. The part about light temperature and form at the end is particularly relevant to this discussion.
Odd, like all masters old and new, understands two different modes of temperature in painting flesh: local temperature and form temperature. Form temperature, I've detailed in the above link. As far as local temperature is concerned, a great example are the ear lobes, nostrils, hands, toes, and cheeks. The color of the flesh in these places tends to be warmer as blood vessels approach the surface of the skin. Conversely, in areas such as the forehead, where there is very little between the skin and bone, the color tends to be cooler in temperature. Take note of these while painting and you will notice a tremendous difference.
As if that wasn't enough to keep track of, Odd also uses another means of color shift on a large scale for both compositional, and illuminatory purposes. This is loosely based on optics, but is greatly exaggerated to exquisite effect. It's quite an interesting and beautiful concept: as light gets farther from the source it scales through the spectrum from yellow, closest to the light source, to orange, red, violet, and all the way to blue or sometimes green. You can see this particularly in his void paintings.
Now this is a general rule of thumb. If you look closely, he breaks and bends it all the time. Also, he takes into account local shifts in color and temperature as well as form shifts in color and temperature. Furthermore, there are changes in chroma related to the light, the angle of the planes of the form, local temperature and chromatic shifts in the skin, and some changes made purely for compositional purposes. As he moves into the shadow the color becomes cooler and more neutral.
Moving on past the palette and its application we come to....
5. The Medium:
It's actually quite simple. Like Rembrandt did, Odd uses primarily refined linseed oil which he lets stand in a jar... so it becomes essentially stand oil. That, mixed in various percentages with turpentine (he tends not to be particular about it), becomes a versatile medium.
Here's a great resource for mediums: Table of Mediums .