Category Archives: Velazquez

Copy of Velazquez’s Madonna finished

“The Immaculate Conception” after Velazquez, 16″ X 20″ oil on canvas

It’s usually a good learning experience to copy the masters and one of my all time favorite painters is Velazquez. I worked on this in one of my classes at Maitland Art Center recently and had intended to do some more things to it, although I wasn’t quite sure what. It was done in the style of grisaille and I never quite got back to it after my last post on glazing. I finally feel it’s time to let it go. After a while, interest and momentum tends to dissipate, boredom sets in and an unfinished painting (or one that you feel is unfinished) can become a sort of albatross around the neck, zapping energy. The painting served it’s purpose and I learned quite a bit from it. There will always be more paintings and learning experiences waiting in the wings.
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Copy of Velazquez's Madonna finished

“The Immaculate Conception” after Velazquez, 16″ X 20″ oil on canvas

It’s usually a good learning experience to copy the masters and one of my all time favorite painters is Velazquez. I worked on this in one of my classes at Maitland Art Center recently and had intended to do some more things to it, although I wasn’t quite sure what. It was done in the style of grisaille and I never quite got back to it after my last post on glazing. I finally feel it’s time to let it go. After a while, interest and momentum tends to dissipate, boredom sets in and an unfinished painting (or one that you feel is unfinished) can become a sort of albatross around the neck, zapping energy. The painting served it’s purpose and I learned quite a bit from it. There will always be more paintings and learning experiences waiting in the wings.

Grisaille technique learning curves


I got to work on my class painting Friday. I finished outlining my charcoal drawing with raw umber and mineral spirits and waited for it to dry before toning the canvas with a coat of light red oil paint mixed with half/half mineral spirits and linseed oil. It kind of got away from me and turned out really orange and not too transparent and some of the charcoal lines didn’t disappear with the paint, even though I had tried to erase them before toning. I figured it might be a good idea to have a canvas in reserve in case this one didn’t work, so I decided to do a copy of Velazquez’s “The Immaculate Conception.” Since I had some technical problems with getting rid of the charcoal under-drawing on the first painting, I projected the image onto the canvas like a few of the students had done in the class. I guess I’m not very mechanically inclined because that didn’t go well either. I had a heck of a time getting it to project properly on the canvas. For some reason, I could only get the top half of the image no matter what I did. So I ended up doing the bottom part of the image freehand, but with draperies it shouldn’t be a big deal. However, when I tried to tone the canvas over the raw umber drawing, a lot of the image washed off. There are a lot of technical issues to deal with in this grisaille technique and I hope I can catch on.

I did find an interesting book while Googling the term grisaille. It’s called “The Secret of the Old Masters” by Albert Abendschein, published in 1906. I’m reading through it whenever I get some time, which isn’t often. I like reading old books because of the flowery language they tended to use back then and it also has some good insights into the technical aspects of painting in oil and why so many old paintings have deteriorated into a shell of their former glory.