Diego Velázquez – Portrait Study

"Diego Velázquez", Leo Plaw, 24 x 30cm, oil on canvas

After Rembrandt left the studio, I needed some one else to keep watch over things. So the Spanish painter to the court of King Phillip IV, Diego Velázquez (1599 – 1660) was it. Unlike Rembrandt, he was not an avid painter of self portraits, so that there weren’t many to choose from.

My aim is firstly improve my portraiture by rendering as accurately as possible the subject. This is a tricky business, because a millimetre or two out with the placement of the features and the face looks wrong. It can be quite frustrating to pick what is misplaced. But making the effort to make these minor adjustments are worth the time and effort, because everyone is an expert on the human face. We look at them every day.

The second aim is to learn from the masters themselves. I may not be using the same palette, but I have to figure out solutions to achieve similar effects. I’m not out to slavishly copy their brushstrokes, rather to capture the essence of the painting.

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