"Paint everything you can as often as possible. Do this and you will continue to grow as an artist."
The Dutch Maid - V1
V1 - The Beginning. One of my favorite stages of painting. A point that can be the start of something beautiful or could end in total disaster. I stretched this one myself using oil-primed belgian linen as the support. I did not do a preliminary sketch so, as you can see I was "feeling my way" around the composition. Which is a great segway into the 1st rule broken: Never have a horizon line in the middle of your composition. Yes, I did this on purpose. Once I decided to have a landscape behind my center of interest (COI) and a curtain to drape her, I knew dividing the composition in half would make things work. With a horizon line too high, it would hit the drape; Too low and it would touch her shoulders. Since either situation would have been unacceptable, I chose to place horizon line in the middle. I think this decision helped makes this composition more cohesive and adds just enough interest to improve and not detract.
Once the sketch was completed, I set it with charcoal fixative (outside!) and let it rest.
A few hours later I used a thin mixture of raw umber and naptha to tint my canvas. (Sometimes I tint the canvas first and then sketch but I wanted to do something different).
The Dutch Maid - V2
V2 - The 2nd stage begins with using raw umber to produce some values. This is when I decide which direction my light is coming from. I continue to use raw umber, but this time it is cut with equal parts turpentine and dammar varnish. This gives me the three-dimensional quality I need to judge how I am going to proceed and this decision depends on what I want the finally outcome to be.
I have a choice now to paint directly or glaze. I decide to glaze everything except the sky but this will be shown later. Time to move on to step 3.
The Dutch Maid - V3
V3 - I paint in my values using the grey value scale. As you can see, I have only done this for the parts of the composition that are going to be glazed (Have you noticed her features have changed? I hate when this happens...). It shows that a tiny shadow here and a little highlight there can change the entire look of a person (even one that you have invented from your imagination!). I am not happy with it so you may notice me "tweaking" the features until the face in my imagination has reappeared.
The Dutch Maid - V4
V4 - Time to start the sky. No bells and whistles here. I kept it very, very simple. I want nothing to detract from my COI. I needed a cool blue to set it back as far as possible so I used ultramarine blue. I also worked on the face and headdress some more.
The Dutch Maid - V5
V5- On to the glazing! I love this part. What you see here is after eight glazing sessions on the face, drape, landscape and dress. (Sorry, I forgot to take photo's). Due to drying time, this took approx. two months total. I have also worked on the sky and added a few clouds. Here I broke the 2nd rule: Adding a color that is nowhere else in your painting - the red drape. I did add a little bit of the red in the landscape and dress but overall the color hue of the drape is unique to the rest of the painting. But again, I believe the warmth plays well against the sky, compliments the landscape and definitely stops your eye from falling out of the painting. (By the way, I use no turpentine when glazing - Just a glazing medium.)
The Dutch Maid - V6
V6 - Now I have had a few more glazing sessions, working the painting until I am satisfied. I have lightened the shadow side of the headdress. I felt there was too much contrast. After that dried I glazed the cap for the first time using yellow.
The Dutch Maid - V7
V7 - I fine-tuned everything. I glazed the headdress blue, worked on the sky and glazed the drapes for the last time. After this dried, I added a few opaques in the headdress for added highlight. I am now happy with the face again! "The Dutch Maid" is completed. And it only took six months....