Lievens in progress

Last week, my husband took this shot of me working on my Lievens copy. Made good progress this week, starting the eyes and some of the skin tones:

The eyes, even unfinished, have brought the figure to life. Visitors love that, and for good reason. It's much easier now to envision the whole face. There is still much to do, probably three more sessions. I'm reserving the beard for last, because that seems to be the order that Lievens followed. The paint and scoring that make up the "whiskers" clearly overlap the skin and clothing.

I am using only an earth palette. Although I brought chromatic primaries with me, I didn't touch them. The "blue" eyes are painted with black and white, which is almost certainly what Lievens did. In isolation the color is grey, but in the warm context of the skin, they look very blue. Other than that, I'm using yellow ochre or raw sienna, earth red, burnt sienna and burnt umber. As for painting medium, I would love to use Venice turp which would give a lot more traction especially for the thicker passages of the skin, but real turpentine is not allowed in the NGA because of the stronger smell. Walnut alkyd medium works great for the glazing, adding translucency and a hint of tack and traction.Walnut oil is a nod to the original, since these masters were thought to use walnut rather than linseed. The alkyd helps it dry much more quickly than walnut or even stand oil would, alone.

If you haven't listened to the NGA podcasts about Jan Lievens, there are links in this post. Here is a slightly closer view of the copy at the end of the day: