View Full Version : Copy Bouguereau - Au bord du Ruisseau

05-02-2013, 07:54 AM
I'm practicing skin tones and (because it never hurts to aim really high and way overestimate your own abilities ;D ) I started on a Bouguereau copy.

The original at http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=22&size=large has slightly different proportions than my canvas board, so I had to cut off some of the top and bottom and will add some to the left and right.

I am using a grid because my drawing skills are far from good enough (will start practicing those once I've got skin tones more or less figured out)

I do try to keep an eye on the anatomy when I'm copying the grid (and am too lazy to copy ALL the lines in the clothes/background etc.. will do those in paint..)

Step 1 - blue grid, red drawing, start of burnt umber layer.
(I think Bouguereau painted ala prima? I'm not good enough for that yet either, I need the 'reasonably accurate values in 1 tone' layers underneath).


Step 2

Step 3 - almost done with the burnt umber

Step 4. I messed up the face in burnt umber and the arm is too dark. Both are bugging me, so I started with part of the dead layer. Face is far from accurate but will hopefully be fixed later on. Will continue fixing the burnt umber layers after this.

ianos dan
05-02-2013, 08:00 AM
l will be watching this progress!Bouguereau never did dead layer or grisaille underpainting ,but it's interesting to see your copy .
No Photoshop corrections so far :).
Very curious how you will paint the face :)

Sarah Edgecumbe
05-02-2013, 08:29 AM
Just subscribing... Very interested as to how you proceed. Good luck!!

lOVE your start. Looks great already


05-02-2013, 10:08 AM
Showing us each step of your process is so helpful. It is much appreciated.

You leave yourself a lot of freedom to correct as you go with this slow, careful process.

I will sit back and just admire watching this unfold. You certainly chose a challenging painting to learn from, one of his best.

Thanx again for choosing to share this with us.


05-05-2013, 06:58 AM
Thank you everyone!!!

Did some corrections on the face after checking the original - moved the left eye a bit lower, the right eye a little wider, made the left nostril narrower, and put the chin a bit lower. The shape of the face should be more or less OK I hope, but because the shading is wrong it still looks off.

Oh well, at least it went from "the sleepy old girl with the big nose" to "the girl who looks a little like one of those monkeys with the huge eyes" :lol: . Waiting for the paint to dry, then more corrections! Some of the lines around the eyes are too hard too.

@birdhs/greggo - Thanks! And yes, this is why I need all the layers and can't do ala prima, I now have the option to endlessly correct my own mistakes :)

I still think it's a great way to learn though, since I really have to look and pay attention, but am still relying on someone who mastered it (vs my own attempts - where I know I would have messed up composition and foreshortening for starters..)


Sarah Edgecumbe
05-05-2013, 05:32 PM
looking fantastic! Keep up posted. As i am starting a Bouguereau I'm interested as to your method :-)

Happy Painting

05-11-2013, 01:24 AM
awesome job on modeling the head and features and eyes, this is going to be great when done

05-16-2013, 05:54 AM
Thank you! I hope so :)

Impatience kicked in and I started with a little color. Sorry for the blurry picture. Will use a proper camera instead of a phone next time.


05-16-2013, 10:27 PM
This is looking great!! Cant wait to see more.

Dana Design
05-17-2013, 11:39 AM
Subscribing and pretty amazed at the detail already in. Fantastic!

Sarah Edgecumbe
05-19-2013, 08:25 PM
looking Great!

Keep posting :-)

ianos dan
05-20-2013, 05:20 AM
In this stage ,already looks good! Very impressed :)

05-27-2013, 08:27 AM
Subscribed as well, such beautiful work!

06-05-2013, 11:00 AM
Subscribed too
This one looks splendid :)

08-04-2013, 05:47 AM
Sorry for not updating sooner, I had some issues with the poor girl's face that only got worse. I let it dry for a bit (read: ignored the painting) while I started the learn to draw a little better with some video anatomy courses. (Riven Phoenix mainly).


I ended up scraping all of the face off and starting over again (I also put some burnt umber over all the hair and the flowers which made her look like Jimi Hendrix). I thought I took some pictures of that, but I can't find them.

Two weeks ago I un-hid the painting, and started on it again.
I used photoshop to get an accurate outline of the main features of the face and taped that next to my scraped out face so I could redraw it.
And while I had photoshop open, I sampled some of the colors used in the face and hands and feet, and saved those as an images so I had some paint-mixing guidelines. (colors I would never have picked on my own by the way! good way to learn I think).

Thankfully it seems like I'm back on track now.


I think I'll finish everything in quite opaque layers, and then add all the smaller little color details in the skin tones with some glazing??

08-04-2013, 11:24 AM
Does anyone know how to get the texture right for the ground and the rocks?

For example the rock underneath the left corner of the clothing seems to have some horizontal and vertical interrupted lines of ocher, orange and grey all mixed together..?
I'm not sure at all how to do this..


Dana Design
08-04-2013, 11:27 AM
Wow! What a difference! The studying paid off in spades. This is going to be spectacular!

08-05-2013, 02:02 PM
This is just gorgeous. Thank you for sharing her with us!

To answer your question, I would say that they are artifacts of his under painting. It looks like your shadow under that skirt is too dark (in the area you were asking about). Paint what you see, rather than what you think should be there and you'll do fine! This is the only place that I see that happening for you! (I do it all the time, and it drives me crazy). crop a section of your painting, and a section of the original painting and put them side by side. You'll see what I mean. Another option is looking at both of them in a mirror, or upside down.

His background/rocks look like a warm gold underpainting with a scumbled/loose grey over the top. Mix in maybe some burnt umber in the shadows. It doesn't seem direct painted to me at all!

Now you have me wanting to do one of these too. I just bought a grand new easel, and this would be a great way to break it in.

08-06-2013, 05:12 AM
Thanks!! And : go for it, would love to see what you do what you'll do with it!

ianos dan
08-06-2013, 07:33 AM
Hello highwaykind !first of all ,congrats on your copy ,it really has that sharp details ,like the original ,please post some close up details ,to see her features better.
About the painted rocks: it seems that he worked with a palette knife ,or with a rough dry brush ,to obtain that texture.what l can see from this fragment you've posted ,it seems that he worked on a toned canvas ,and probably that ocher is left from the imprimatura layer.
What l saw in high-res photos of his paintings ,he painted the background very loose ,concentrating on the figures ,(very smooth and blended),so he made somehow texture difference between a rock ,a tree,a hand..and so on.
Bravo !

08-28-2013, 02:47 AM
Do you have an update on this? I can't wait to see it!

08-28-2013, 11:28 AM
(compares last posted image with painting): Yes, I have an update :)

I think most of the background is done now, and I also added the flowers in her hair. Need to look at the bottom foot when the rest is done to see if I made that too dark (eg; if it seems like someone else's foot?).


And some close ups. As you can see I need to rework the dress a bit so the correction of the foot doesn't show, also need to add more layers to the foot/hands so it's smoother.
Sorry for the reflecting dark parts = there is a window directly on the right of the painting.

And the face, still with very charming ballpoint lines that need to be hidden - :angel:. I did start on the left ear with some layers to hide what's underneath but I'm not sure the colors are right yet..

11-21-2013, 06:04 AM
And I'm DONE! All varnished. Yay!

Turns out you can not get rid of ballpoint marks by painting over them, so those still show through. Oh well. Lesson learned.


As always - not the best picture ever because I couldn't fine a place in my living room without sunlight hitting the painting. The bottom foot is not nearly as light.
After I've figured out how to attach the board to the frame I'll maybe try hanging it on the wall, lighting it with 2 lamps and putting the camera on a tripod..

Sarah Edgecumbe
11-21-2013, 08:35 AM
looks great!! well done :-)

11-22-2013, 04:32 AM
Lovely seeing your progress. YOu should be pleased. I hope her foot is not as dark as before, nor as light as the last photo, but in between. You have done supurb work on her clothing - all those stripes - eek, and her flesh tones look really fresh. Post a better photo if you can.

ianos dan
11-22-2013, 05:07 AM
Congrats on your copy! l really don't find mistakes or imperfections .
All those folds ,the clothing ,is like a real Bouguereau.
The difference between the picture showing the detail of the face ,and the last one is huge.l don't know if is the effect of the camera ,or the distance ,but it's more rendered than the previous pictures.
Please post some details again ,like hands and face ,it will help as give you some constructive critique .
A little tip:if your painting looks better in the evening ,because the lack of hard light acts like a filter ,helping your painting to become more realistic ,it means it needs more glazes,unifying tones.
For the moment , congrats for your effort ,and hope you post some photos later!

11-23-2013, 05:52 AM
Thanks all!!

I will try to take some pictures later today. (or link to a full-res photo?)
Here's one of the ballpoint mess


The face did change a lot since the last image I posted - I added a lot more layers.. and then even more to try and cover the ballpoint lines (that corrected most of the anatomy mistakes). Initially it looked like they were covered, but as the paint dried they kept showing. Lesson learned, this painting will always be mine anyway.

@Dan thanks for the tip: I think I could / should have added a lot more glazes to all the skin tones. I was contemplating adding a lot more detail to the hands and feet, but since I couldn't fix the ballpoint lines I called it done and varnished it (always my favorite part of the painting process)

11-23-2013, 06:44 AM

ianos dan
11-23-2013, 06:49 AM
Hahaha LOL ! yeah ,l have the same feeling ,l just want to varnish ,but l have to be patient
l like your painting ,l've made some digital corrections ;first of all ,you probably had to use lighter tones ,the original has more pale skin ,and l would have done this by some scumbles over this wonderful painting ,after that ,with some thicker paint ,in lighter parts ,and will solve the traces of the ballpoint.
So ,lighter ,and will be perfect ,but since it's varnished,l only congratulate you ,and hope it will help you in future ,
Bougueareau =light ,no high contrast ,tone to tone work ,smooth surface ,perfect drawing .
in one of this images l just took some tones with the piker ,just to see the difference between your palette and Bouguereau's palette. http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Nov-2013/1165823-pallte.jpghttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Nov-2013/1165823-default.jpghttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/23-Nov-2013/1165823-corection.jpg

11-23-2013, 10:54 AM
Thanks! Very helpful. My irises in the eyes seem too big.

Didn't dare to go that light with the face because then I'd lose the difference/contrast with the white shirt. (the picture might show the colors a bit too dark by the way, think it looks a little lighter in real life).
But I probably should have added at least some opaque lights there.

I tried taking pictures in parts, and then stitching it together in Photoshop, and removing the glare - but it's not really working. Might try taking pictures outdoors sometime this week, with some black and white stuff in the picture for correct color balance.

11-25-2013, 07:12 AM
Taking pictures outdoors -> yay.
Only a few reflective parts where there's varnish on top of some thicker paint, but the colors seem true.

Link to full-res photo link (http://www.corienbennink.nl/bokt/bouguereau-ruisseau-done.jpg)