How to Paint like the Masters
In this tutorial, I will show you how to paint like the masters. It is important to remember that there are no easy ways or tricks to make painting easier, which is why it’s so hard to master. Hopefully, this tutorial will offer you some guidance along your artistic journey..
Begin each painting with a basic sketch. Think of everything as a shape, either light or dark. Try to avoid middle tones. The sketching phase should be completed with an ugly dark color. Traditionally you’d mix one. I prefer to use a burnt umber or a burnt sienna. The purpose of the toned background is so your eyes can more easily see the proper values in relation to the background.
Master Painter Anders Zorn came up with a limited palette made up of Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red, White, and Black, called the Zorn Palette. Using the Zorn Palette, I fill in the basic shapes with a generic base color. Believe it or not, most of the color gamut can be reproduced with these 4 colors. One can complete a painting with this palette. I prefer to use the Zorn Palette to work through most of my painting. Like stages 1 through 3. 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.
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 keeps on using black). I mix in all sorts of colors to get the proper tones. Some great skin tone whites are Flake White(middle tones), Misty Blue(dark tones), and Ivory White(Bright tones). Using these three whites will help you make more realistic looking skin tones.
Finally, it’s all about working on the details. This stage can be as long as you’d like. Usually, this is where I have the most fun painting.
A video of the entire process is below.