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Man, this semester is going by fast… I would definitely like to make a few posts focusing on other artists and topics other than what I’m doing, but for now I’ve got an update on one of my projects! Last week I started a Rembrandt master copy (around 3×4 feet in size) and I thought I’d photograph my beginning steps and write a basic rundown of how I chose to start.  This is the painting after two days of work (an evening for the underpainting and an entire day for the overpainting); not an excellent image, but you get the point  6I usually start my paintings by evaluating large shapes of value and color rather than specific constructions of line.  In this case I spent around three hours making a monochromatic underpainting, as the following two images demonstrate.  At this stage, the shapes are still far from perfect, which forces me to reevaluate and correct everything when I paint over it, rather than filling in a perfect drawing like a coloring book. 1 2 After waiting a night to dry (I use fairly absorbent gesso, so it rarely takes more than a day for a layer to dry), I begin the opaque overpainting.  I start by working with large brushes a relatively thin paint, using 1 part linseed oil and one part Gamsol to dilute the paint.  In the first hour of this session, I make sure that I have covered the entire surface with approximate color and value.  Although this stage isn’t very specific, it provides me with the context necessary to proceed with the painting in an informed manner.  If I were to begin rendering at the face without the colors of the background or clothing laid in, I run the risk of losing track of the entire picture and compromising its overall quality for the sake of small details. 3 After getting this basic color lay in, I begin finishing the painting part by part, starting with the background, then moving to the clothing, and finally the face.  I use thicker paint, smaller brushes, and more decisive strokes to achieve a higher degree of precision and I do not move on from an area until I am satisfied with it.  This part of the painting requires a lot of focus because I am doing my best to make an accurate representation of what I see, rather than an approximation as was the case at the start.  The next two images depict the painting partway through this stage.4 5  Since the face is the focal point of the picture, I take greater care to finish this portion.  After the previous image, I use a palette knife to scrape the paint on the face off, leaving a ghost of an image for me to work on top of.  The scraping removes excess paint, which offers less resistance when I repaint the face in greater detail while the painting is still wet.  Although the paint has since dried and sunken in (in other words, the darks look much flatter and the color is duller), this image gives an idea of what the face looked like by the end of the day: 7  These process photos give some insight into what the first two days on a painting are like for me.  I tend to like to work quickly so as not to leave any crucial elements until the end.  I will likely repaint some areas and enhance the painting with glazing and scumbling, but until then, cheers! I hope this was somewhat helpful!