Recreations - Part 2: Conclusion

Now that we have seen the underpainting has been done, we proceed to finish the painting.

And, to put into practice a quote of an old professor: "Repetition is the price of knowledge," we are going to repeat something underpainting is not, but this time in reverse.  That is, what underpainting is not, finishing is:

  1. The final painting.  Everything as a painting is supposed to look.
  2. The final colors as they will appear on the composition. Are the colors balanced throughout the canvas?
  3. The application of details.  Use the Underpainting as a foundation upon which the details are going to rest. While the process finishing a painting keep in mind that this is the stage where you can use paint more generously.
  • The darker color were applied first. We used a small amount of the premixed Rembrandt mixture (see below) with the solvent  used for glazing.  It took several thin coats of paint to accomplish the rich, transparent and deep darks so characteristic of Rembrandt's work. As shown on the picture on the left, we painted the areas that are similar in color and value at the same time.
  • For the lighter colors we used more of the compound, until the lightest colors were mixed to a ratio of about 50/50 oil and mixture.
  • The same process was continued with lighter colors until the entire canvas was covered.
  • Because of color interaction, you have to go back and retouch areas that are out of the proper value and/or color.
  • While all of these steps were followed, we were careful to imitate the size, shape, and direction of strokes.

Click on image to see a larger view.

Note on Rembrandt's technique: Rembrandt Mixture.
Much has been written on the materials and technique used by this great master. Even the experts on the field can only speculate on how Rembrandt executed his paintings.  Some say he used a mixture of 50% linseed oil, 40% copal type varnish, and 10 percent beeswax.  After being heated and mixed, it cools to a soft brown paste.  Some scholars say he used this mixture as both a solvent, and a thickening agent for his lighter colors.  The result is this semi-transparent quality of his work.  For his darker ones he used glazing techniques applied in thin and consecutive layers.  One thing is for sure: Rembrandt worked some areas numerous times until he got the desired effect. For this painting we chose the above technique.

Please exercise extreme caution when mixing these ingredients over open flame, as fumes are toxic , and ingredients are highly flammable. (Trust us on this one: in one occasion we almost burnt the house when the mixture caught on fire.)

Others say Rembrandt used powder glass or calcium oxide mixed with the oil colors. If you are interested in further reading on Rembrandt's technique, visit these excellent sites for more in depth information:
http://park.org/Netherlands/pavilions/culture/rembrandt/manner/index.html  THIS ONE IS OUR FAVORITE!

Graphics by Santa Maria Studio. All Rights Reserved. 2004