Search
  • Sadie Valeri

Master Copy: Bouguereau's Sketch of a Young Woman


Sketch by Sadie Valeri after William-Adolphe Bouguereau


My study was painted in 3 sessions, for a total of about 12 hours (I believe Bouguereau probably did this this whole painting in one day, perhaps in only 6 hours or so - goals!). The first day I painted a transparent under-painting, the second day I refined the under-painting and then applied a layer of semi-transparent lead white. Then I let the painting sit a couple days to be sure it was dry and stable, and I painted the final opaque layer all in one sitting.

Instead of mixing the colors on the palette, I mixed the pigments directly onto the panel. I loaded my brush with only one pigment at a time, and I applied the paint with a very light touch, holding the brush far back from the ferrule (the metal part).


If you watch closely in the video, you will see I work with one brush loaded with white for a while, and them I switch and work with a brush loaded with the other colors for a while. I am lightly layering, alternating the white brush with the color brush. On the palette, I never allow my white to touch any of my other colors.


A note about the whites of the eyes, the sclera: If I used only white, the sclera would have looked alarmingly blue. I used yellow to warm up the color. Also, in general for portraits, it works best to paint the pupil and iris with very soft, blurred edges, and save the highlights for the very final stage of the painting.

Bouguereau used a more extensive palette for his finished painting, but for this sketch he probably only used a few pigments. Based on published accounts of his colors, I selected the few I believe he used in this sketch. These are the pigments I used:


Panel Tone Raw Sienna (Boug may have used Yellow Orchre) Transparent Under-Painting Raw Umber Burnt Umber Raw Sienna (or Yellow Ochre) Ivory Black

Semi-Opaque and Opaque Over-Painting

Lead White Raw Sienna Burnt Umber Quinacradone Red (Boug would have used Rose Madder Deep, both are a cool transparent red)


RayMar Panel L64C linen mounted on MDF panel

Rosemary's Brushes Eclipse and Master Series Long Filberts


If you would like to try your own copy and get my written feedback, please join me in my Online Atelier.

@2019-20 SJNV Creative Associates and Sadie Valeri Atelier | San Francisco, California, United States