Portrait of a peasant girl after Velazquez

Velasquez peasant girl 50x64 copy

Portrait of a peasant girl by Velazquez

This is a project by matt harvey to try and use the same technique as Velazquez in his portrait painting. I used a limited colour palette of vermilion, yellow ochre, white, black and burnt umber

This is the first of a number of Velazquez paintings I would like to try and copy. You can see the video in real time on my patreon channel, see the link here on my website.
I was interested in what palette he used and also in his use of the imprimatura and how that was left for some of the middle tones and her clothes.
He may have painted this in 1 or 2 sittings and I show that it is possible to achieve it in 1 sitting, although how he did it in a single sitting with such breathtaking technique is anybody’s guess.
The point of the video is to gain an understanding of the technique so that I or anybody else will be able to use it in their own paintings. There are a number of things that I feel could be worked on a little more but due to the fact I was filming it I stopped working here after 1hr 10 minutes. The technique comes with practice and I think something anyone can do, but of course I mean A LOT of practice. Personally it was very enlightening to make this copy. One thing I did struggle with was not being able to see it all properly, for example the area around her left eye is very dark and difficult to make out. Because of this I think I’ll leave it here, because I don’t know how I can improve it so that it looks more like the original.

I love Velazquez because I think he was a great human being as well as a great artist, as well as being obsessed by status! When he painted various ‘outsiders’ like his bonded slave (who’s freedom he later bought) or peasants, or the jesters and dwarves in the royal court, obviously some would have been the result of royal patronage as well as his own interest. But he painted these people with what I would describe as empathy because he still respected them for their humanity. I wonder about the girl in this portrait, and differences in their ‘status’ notwithstanding, Velazquez does paint her with a sensitivity and tenderness that make this an outstanding portrait painting. She is not sentimentalised like Bouguereau would have painted her, and you can see in this portrait a precursor to Manet’s modernist portraits of people in his everyday world. For this project my main interest is the technique he used, but I still find this a touching portrait that also demonstrates Velazquez’s profound empathy.

The colours I used, and I am pretty sure Velazquez also used, were:
Titanium White
Ivory Black
Burnt Umber
Vermilion
Yellow Ochre

Of course mine are modern equivalents

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