Step 1: I begin each painting with a basic sketch. The sketch is done with a burnt umber or a burnt sienna. The purpose is to tone the surface so my eyes can see the proper values in relation to the background. I then allow the piece to dry.
Step 2: I use a limited palette made up of Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, White, and Black; which I use to fill in the basic shapes. Believe it or not you can do most of your painting with these 4 colors and I recommend that you do. This will dramatically simplify your process. One of my biggest problems was using too many colors too early on, and this can make a painting feel daunting. The example to the left is a painting by Anders Zorn which was painted entirely using the Zorn Palette; Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, Ivory White, and Ivory Black.
Step 3: Once I have a basic outline, I begin working on the proper colors. I generally shy away from black at this stage and switch to Van Dyke brown (Anders Zorn just keep on using black). I mix in all sorts of colors to get the proper tones.
Step 4: Finally it’s all about working on the details.
Below is a video of the entire process.
Colors used – Manganese Blue, Titanium White, Ivory Black, Burnt Sienna, Van Dyke Brown, Yellow Ochre.