Saturday, July 21, 2012

How to Paint Your Own Rembrandt

The following article is reprinted here with the kind permission of Michael John Angel.  The original article can be read in its entirety on the 'Technical Page' of the Angel Academy of Art's blog.

How to Paint Your Own Rembrandt 

1. A thin coat of fairly lean oil paint is spread over the white canvas. The colour of this coat of paint is a greyed golden-brown, which was Rembrandt’s preferred field colour (the field colour is the unifying colour that pervades the whole painting, giving it a strong mood). This is left to dry thoroughly.

2. The darks are massed in, using a very dark grey-brown. 

3. The lights are impastoed, using a light-value version of the field colour. This creates the basic three-value field-colour underpainting.

4. The darks are now elaborated by wiping-back and by opaque painting. Please note that steps 2 to 4 are done before the drawing stage dries.

5. Once the light shapes in stage 3 have dried thoroughly, the lighter lights are added, using thick paint.

6. When this is all thoroughly dry, the main value notes of the head, hair and white clothing are roughed in, using fairly thick paint; however, the paint is thinner in the transition tones and thin in the shadows. The colour of this roughing-in is the field colour (various values of greyed golden-brown), and the result is a monochrome underpainting, with strong, simplified form. This used to be called the dead-colouring.

7. When step 6 is thoroughly dry, the head and clothing can be painted in full detail using thin paint and full colour. Please note that the painter concentrates on the face and on the light draperies—the dark clothing is left as it was in step 4 (unless some tweaking is needed). A few extra thick highlights can be added here and there in the lights to strengthen the impastoes.

8. Last of all, the background is finished.

To learn more of this technique, or the techniques of other Masters (such as Caravaggio), please visit the Angel Academy of Art blog or website.

Caravaggio's Method from the Angel Academy of Art blog.


francis said...

I really doubt Rembrandt painted that way. as always, those who think you can just apply the academic technique to everything will fulfill their own prophecy. might as well copy a photograph.

innisart said...

As you can see, Angel was making a copy of a Rembrandt. The article wasn't "Learn to Paint Just Like Rembrandt." Rembrandt was one of those artists for whom "anything goes," as long as it served a final vision; it would be hard to pin down a step-by-step procedure that would apply to all of his work.

You make me want to quit blogging.

Jason de Graaf said...

Pfft... everybody knows Rembrandt used necromancy to paint.

Er.. aren't prophecies meant to be fulfilled?

If you trip on copying photographs, then that's awesome.

Charley Parker said...

Nice thoughts about blocking in. Kind of a big jump there in step 7 (grin).

tinoradman said...

It's always interesting to hear sound pieces of advice about painting procedures. I'd like to see, however, the wip shots of M. Angel's actual copy of Rembrandt's SP.
I mean, those jpgs are done in Photoshop (they are alterations of the same picture) for the purpose of illustrating MA's principles and are not the actual wip shots.

Sarah Griffin Thibodeaux said...

I hope you don't quit blogging

Doug Stotts said...

If this posts twice, it's accidental. My first didn't go through somehow. Please don't quit blogging. I don't know of another blog that goes into the depth of detail that is useful to artists. I get lots out of it and I'm sure for every disparaging remark there are dozens like me who appreciate an objective source of information that is hard to get outside of an art school.

francis said...

Why bother copying from a master if you have no interest in his original process? what is the point even making a copy if you're just going to follow a formula? there are many ways to research Rembrandt's procedure - just look at his etchings there's more than enough info there.

tinoradman said...

As we all know, one of the most recommended learning tools for students throughout the history was copying the works of the masters - using all the knowledge they possessed (and a certain amount of guesswork, of course). It was integral part of an artist's education. Degas, for instance, was such a staunch advocate of copying that he once said - “You have to copy and recopy the masters, and it’s only after having proved oneself as a good copyist that you can reasonably try to do a still life of a radish.”
OK, I'd say he exaggerated his point a bit :)

The reason behind copying is obvious - one learns something in the process, his/her artistic vocabulary is expanded, his/her taste is developed and skills improved. The point was not to learn a formula.