View Full Version : Master of the Month (MOM) June/July 2008 (Aertsen)

06-02-2008, 07:45 PM
Everyone welcome!

Have fun! :)


Aertsen, Pieter (b. 1508-09, Amsterdam, d. 1575, Amsterdam). Netherlandish painter, active in his native Amsterdam and in Antwerp. A pioneer of still life and genre painting, he is best known for scenes that at first glance look like pure examples of these types, but which in fact have a religious scene incorporated in them (Butcher's Stall with the Flight into Egypt, University of Uppsala, 1551). His depictions of food, flowers, and everyday objects make him important in the development of still-life painting. Aertsen was the head of a long dynasty of painters, of whom the most talented was his nephew and pupil Joachim Bueckelaer.

Nicknamed Lange Pier (Peter the Long), born in Amsterdam, he became a citizen of Antwerp in 1542 where he resided until around 1556. Hosted initially by Jan Mandyn, a gifted follower of Hieronymus Bosch (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bosch/), Pieter Aertsen links the Dutch and the Flemish schools. His sons, Pieter Pietersz and Aert Pieterz, also became painters. Aertsen also trained his nephew Joachim Beuckelaer.

During his first years in Antwerp he was mainly commissioned to make altarpieces (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/glo/altarpiece/) for Dutch churches. Before long he also started to paint scenes from peasant life and he gained a reputation for his paintings of market scenes and "kitchen" tableaux, which contained an abundance of fruit, fish, poultry, cheese, bread and much more.

Renowned today as the painter of "kitchens" (Christ with Maria and Martha), featuring an opulent and familiar realism, he is in fact a varied and ambitious painter, tackling both religious compositions, genre scenes and portrait: his career can be traced between 1543 and 1571 with a series of signed and dated artworks. Today he is considered as important as Bruegel (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/bruegel/) among 16th century painting: a powerful and monumental artist, using splendid and frank tones, announcing the Flemish still-life developments with such realism and surcharge of details.

His compositions packed at the front with vegetables reflect a mannerist pathos specific to the 16th century; however if religious figuration is often relegated in the background in a subordinated position (a scheme that will later have much success, among his younger cousin and pupil Beuckelaer for instance, who took over this style of painting and developed it further), the religious painter should not be ignored, with such massive formats and powerful ambitions. He was tormented by iconoclasts and practiced a heroic and dignified style, close to and competing with Floris.

Examples of his work (choose any painting by this artist):

Market Scene

Vendor of Fowl

Link to other works by this master: http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/aertsen/ (http://www.ibiblio.org/wm/paint/auth/aertsen/)

06-02-2008, 08:38 PM
Ooh, awesome choice! Very nice and very complex....

BTW, for a while we were doing it over a 2-month time span - would you think that would be appropriate due to the complexity of this Master?

-- Linda

06-02-2008, 09:46 PM
Hi Linda, I'm glad you like the choice. I think a 2 month time span would be a great idea. I'll try to arrange to have the thread title changed. :)

06-03-2008, 09:09 AM
Awesome job here Janet! Thanks for starting this...

06-03-2008, 02:22 PM
Thank you Bernie and you're welcome! :)

06-12-2008, 12:45 AM
So apparently this guy never did anything easy - this was one of the simplest paintings I found!

Here's the crop I'll be using and the initial sketch - I'm doing this on 11x14 gessobord, and I've used a grid system to get the basic layout down.

Excuse the grainy photo - my colored pencil lines are very light and had to amp up the contrast to show it.

http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Jun-2008/10940-marketwomana.jpg http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/12-Jun-2008/10940-market061108a.jpg

-- Linda

06-12-2008, 09:44 AM
Hi Linda, the sketch looks great! The painting certainly has a lot of detail. I'm looking forward to seeing an update. :)

06-13-2008, 07:26 PM

Not much to see here yet, folks....

While I haven't found evidence that Aertsen actually used the 7-layer flemish technique, the fact that he's flemish and from that time period gives me reason to try it out. Of course, that means I could still be painting this in December... :rolleyes:

So I'm going off of artpapa.com for technique references, and here's a link to a description of the technique:


The 7 layers are as follows:

1: Imprimatura
2: Umber Underlayer 1
3: Umber Underlayer 2
4: Dead Layer
5: Color Layer 1
6: Color Layer 2
7: Finishing Layer

So here's layer 1, the imprimatura. I sealed the drawing underneath, and can still see it even though it won't show up in photos.
The imprimatura is a mix of prussian blue, yellow ochre, burnt umber, and white, to form an olive tone. I diluted this down to a wash, as the color needs to be no darker than the brightest midtones.


-- Linda

06-14-2008, 09:12 AM
Linda, thank you for all the information on the flemish technique and the colors that you used! I'm just a newbie and this is extremely helpful! :)

06-14-2008, 11:50 PM
So, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's progress on their Aertsens...




-- Linda

06-15-2008, 01:01 AM
While I'm waiting for the imprimatura to dry completely, I decided to go ahead and re-sketch the cartoon in burnt umber on the panel. This will just give me a better idea of where all the various fruits and veggies go, as shading each of them will be necessary in the next step.


-- Linda

06-17-2008, 10:17 PM
Here's the 2nd (umber) layer almost done, a bit more to do on the white areas and value corrections needed yet.

This is entirely burnt umber with linseed oil, I haven't gotten out the white yet. This took about an hour and a half, sketched in fairly quickly with a single brush, a #2 flat shader.

We'll see if the next layer refines it enough, I may need to do a 3rd burnt umber layer to clean it up enough.

What I'm learning about Aertsen so far:

Excellent use of negative space - many of the objects are framed by the dark background.

Excellent use of contrast - if it's a white object, there's something dark behind it, if it's a dark object, there's something light behind it.

Excellent use of soft edges - many of the objects fade off on their shadow side into the dark areas behind them.


-- Linda

06-18-2008, 10:09 AM
Looking forward to the rest of ths linda, maby one day i will be good enough to attempt something like this,there again, maby not.:)


06-27-2008, 05:14 PM
Yay, we're back! And only missing one post on here - so here it is:

So I guess this would be considered the beginning of the second umber layer, which would be layer 3 of this process. Here I'm darkening the values to give the picture a complete value scale. I'm also at this point finalizing the placement of most of the objects in the scene.

Err...hmm...the image inserter is bringing up a smilies insert box... so here's the pic as an attachment. :)

-- Linda

06-30-2008, 06:16 PM
Here I'm continuing to darken the values and refine the painting. I'm still only using burnt umber, and this is still the 3rd layer, Umber Layer 2. I'm slowly working my way across the painting with a fine brush.


-- Linda

07-20-2008, 01:29 AM
Here's another update (finally), worked on more of the veggies and the hands.


-- Linda

07-20-2008, 10:31 PM
Looking Good, Linda! I might try to find an image and crop it - then paint it. I am not one for complicated subjects but I could use a lesson in pumping up contrast- which he seems to have down very well.


07-21-2008, 02:44 AM
Yay, another victi...er..artist! :evil:

Seriously, I think this guy had OCD.

Jump on in, the water's fine, looking forward to see what someone else does with Aertsen.

As for me, I'm still sticking with my December timeline on this. :p

-- Linda

07-22-2008, 12:20 AM
Worked more on the veggies and the cloth folds. I want this layer to have the correct values before I move on to the next layer. This is rather tedious, but it makes for fewer composition decisions in upper layers.


-- Linda

07-24-2008, 03:05 AM

So here's the final for the Umber layer, I've gotten the placement and basic values of everything placed. Remember guys, this is only layer 3 of 7, so there's plenty more to go.

Next up, the *Dead Layer* (Oooooh) :p

-- Linda

07-24-2008, 03:12 AM
Linda, I have been following your progress with this and am so impressed. Wonderful effort.

07-24-2008, 03:23 AM
Ya know, you learn a lot about the psychology of an artist when you copy them. I see one of two scenarios in the Aertsen atelier:

"Hmm, happy little grapes, yes, and we can add a potato here and a happy little cabbage here..."


"Needs...More....FRUIT!!!!" :evil:


(going slightly bonkers with all the veggies - I mean I like food as much as the next girl, but come ON!!! :rolleyes: )

07-24-2008, 04:20 PM
Thanks Becca!

So here's my vampiress... (j/k) :rolleyes:


One thing to note here is that this is NOT black and white. I'm using a mix of prussian blue, burnt umber, yellow ochre, and black to create an optical black. This is then mixed in varying degrees with white.

This part is going very fast - all of this was done in about 3 hours this morning, which is lightning speed compared to the last layer. It's almost like a paint by numbers now - paint dark over dark and light over light. Not much thought needed because all has been planned out in the previous layer.

-- Linda

07-27-2008, 02:19 PM
Here's an update, I changed her face a bit and worked on the veggies.


-- Linda

Carey Griffel
08-01-2008, 08:32 AM
Linda, what awesome work you have going here, it's great to see your progress!

I for one had never heard of this artist and so found it a refreshing change and chance to learn something! (Even if I couldn't find time to join in. :( )

We'll be sure to leave this thread open so we can see any latecomers (and Linda's progress which hopefully we'll still get to watch! :angel: ).

Anyone have any ideas/suggestions for the next MOM? I'm sure I can dig something or other up but thought I'd leave the field open for some suggestions first!


08-01-2008, 11:47 AM
Thanks, I'm still aiming for a December finish here! Got a bit more done but it's not obvious so I'll wait for a bit more progress before I post.

I hadn't heard of this guy either - I think maybe some people are intimidated by the subject matter? For me, it's either bravery or sheer stupidity. :D
Nah, I'm actually really comfortable and happy with the progress and steps here, it just takes a long time to do, and just looks harder than it actually is.

I'd actually like to see if we have a classical artist with a simple/single subject, that way people can jump in with similar techniques on a smaller scale?

-- Linda

08-01-2008, 06:03 PM
moving this to the Painting from the Masters Sub-Forum... (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=181) still open for artwork and comments...

awaiting on the new masters thread for August/September... hopefully coming soon...

08-02-2008, 09:40 PM
Here's an update, worked on the background and more veggies. Still at the dead layer here.


-- Linda

08-03-2008, 08:53 PM
Annnd.... more veggies!

(we're almost at the color layer - I promise!) :rolleyes:


-- Linda

08-04-2008, 02:13 PM
Wow, there's a ton of work done with this already, how do you keep up your passion to finish?

I find if my paintings aren't "moving" along at a steady pace, I get turned off by them...

Thanks for sharing,

08-04-2008, 03:07 PM
Hi Malamik, thanks!

For me, this is a purely educational painting, and part of the motivation is the curiousity to see how it turns out. (plus, it could end up looking really cool and impressive at the end :cool: ) Everyone talks about how impressive the 7-layer flemish technique is, and how it really adds depth and dimension to a painting. Does it? Well, we'll see. :)

For painting in general, I used to be a painting in a day painter when I was first starting out (if it wasn't finished by the end of the session, it was trash). I learned that every painting goes through an ugly stage, and if I just kept on working through it, it usually turned out good. As long as I have a plan or references, I can usually save anything, and my "dud" pile is very small. Of course, that means putting in the time, whether it's weeks or months on a single painting! (of course, this depends on your painting style, and what type of style you're trying to accomplish - for me, as a realism painter, this is the timeframe)

I think it's just the confidence that comes with painting a long time, having the vision of the finished product, and knowing the steps it'll take to get there. I started this piece knowing it would take me much longer than the 2-month window allotted, but that's ok. Obviously, there's been plenty of ugly stages and this particular painting has a much longer ugly stage than most. :rolleyes: But, I know exactly where it's going and what I need to do to get there, so for me, it's progressing just fine. :)

I think it helps to have a realistic idea of how long a painting will take, then it won't seem so tedious when it does take that long.

-- Linda

08-05-2008, 06:53 PM
Guess what guys? The dead layer is done! Here it is:

So far I'm at 31.75 easel hours on this.

Next up? Color! :D


-- Linda

Carey Griffel
08-06-2008, 06:20 AM
Wow, that is amazing. I am really looking forward to seeing your color layers on this, Linda!


08-06-2008, 08:47 AM
Well Linda, for an educational painting, this is fantastic!
Flemish or no, you are a great artist.
Oh to have time to paint on a project like this...(I have a toddler).

My dud pile, is increasing, but at least they're only panels so far, if I reach for a canvas then it's already planned out.

08-06-2008, 02:03 PM
Thanks! I can't tell you how hard it was to not immediately start applying color last night! :)

Most of my painting sessions are only 1.5 to 2.5 hours long, and usually at night when I don't have other things to do. I'm actually on summer vacation right now (I'm a teacher) but next week I'll be back to being busy!

The nice thing about this technique is that you almost have to paint in short sessions, to allow the paint to dry, so it doesn't take away from the rest of my life, nor does being busy interfere much with painting. :)

-- Linda

08-06-2008, 02:31 PM
Linda... I tip my hat to you... this is looking GREAT!

08-07-2008, 03:35 PM
Thanks! Here's where we get to the fun part!

So here's the first part of color layer 1. I'm very quickly scumbling color into their respective areas. I'm not being very careful about it, just working on establishing the local color of each area.

Because each color paint has a varying opaqueness, some of the values established earlier are not as pronounced. Also, some areas might look washed out or too intense in their color. That will all be addressed in color layer 2 with additional glazes.


-- Linda

Mette Rörström
08-07-2008, 06:45 PM
Linda...I have been watshing your progres....Bravo!:clap:
It looks great .Esp.when the color layer is beeng added....

08-08-2008, 09:27 PM
Thanks! It really feels like it's getting somewhere now that we're in the color layer.

Here's some more glazed veggies, and worked on the flesh tones - I'll be adjusting these a bit more yet.


-- Linda

08-09-2008, 10:42 PM
Here's the next installment.. Worked on adding a background scene, more glazing, and worked on the dress.

I'm kind of mixing up the layers now, some parts of the painting are almost complete, while others have yet to be glazed.


-- Linda

08-21-2008, 12:52 PM
What beautiful work, Linda--the colors really glow. I looked through the thread and don't find what medium you are using for the glazing, or did I miss it somewhere?

Thank you for showing us each layer as you do it, this thread is a very helpful learning process.

Carey Griffel
08-21-2008, 04:11 PM
Wow, Linda, that is really luminous now! Everything is getting very 3D!


08-21-2008, 10:23 PM
Thanks! I'm really pleased how it's going - unfortunately I just hit the busy season (being a schoolteacher, school's back in session, and I work on my MS degree project next month) so it'll be a little slow in updating now!

Hi Joyce! I'm using straight linseed oil (no turps) on this painting. Actually, a lot of the glazing I'm getting away with only a tiny bit of linseed oil at all, and just scumbling to spread it across. Just have to be careful with the strength of the scumbling, as too much rubbing can erase previous layers! :eek:

-- Linda

08-23-2008, 04:14 PM
Here's an update - what I've worked on is probably not too obvious, but just cleaning up and defining various areas.


-- Linda

08-29-2008, 04:36 PM
Worked on a bunch of the details - the changes are probably not too obvious.

I'm skipping around - some parts are almost done while others still need their first glaze. Keeps it interesting. :)


-- Linda

09-06-2008, 10:50 AM
wow thats amazing, love seeing the process of it!! i LOVE it!

09-06-2008, 09:02 PM
Thanks! Having fun with this too. :)

Gonna try to take advantage of the 800p max size WC has to show some detail...


I'm a leftie, so I'm working on the details from top to bottom, right to left.

-- Linda

09-20-2008, 08:25 PM
Here's an update, everything on the painting has at least one glazing layer on now.


-- Linda

09-28-2008, 06:07 PM

Here's an update, I'm working on the final details. It's almost done! There's just a few more sections that need details, so probably 1 or 2 more sessions. :)

-- Linda

09-29-2008, 03:54 PM
My gosh you've worked on that. Well done.

09-30-2008, 02:20 AM
Thanks! I've had fun doing this, but I'm really looking forward to doing my own style again. I really haven't been working on any paintings besides this.

Aertsen is a very good painter, but I've been fighting my own anti-clutter-in-painting sense since I've started this! There are several things I would have changed if I was the original artist, and several things I did change for simplicity's sake. (I know, you're thinking, simplicity, what simplicity??) Actually, besides the relative placement of the objects and the painting method, I didn't pay too much attention to the original. :o Artist's perogative and all that.

Anyways, I learned a lot about the Flemish method, and I now have a better idea on where to apply it and where applying it would be a waste of time. Does the painting glow as advertised? Yeah, I guess it does, in real life, with a spotlight on it.

Oh, and the painting is probably distorted as almost all of these photos have been taken at a 45 degree angle to avoid glare and then re-distorted in Photoshop. So it probably looks better IRL.

Anyways, a couple more sessions yet, but almost done! :)

-- Linda

Carey Griffel
09-30-2008, 06:10 AM
This is a terrific demonstration of the method, Linda, and I'm so glad to see how much you've accomplished with it! I can definitely see where this would take over your art, but I'm sure you've learned so much by doing it. Way to go!


10-04-2008, 06:59 PM
This is looking great, Linda!

Antonov's lessons are wonderful. I got the Anna lesson, and have been practicing it. I understood the Imprimatura to be a color mixture no darker than the brightest mid-tones, rather than thinned to a wash, so that is my own approach. I'm not sure if I'm correct on that or not.
Yeah, started one of those 7 layers in December '07 and finished it in July, lol...

10-12-2008, 05:31 PM

It's finally finished!

Market Woman with Vegetable Stall
Study of Pieter Aertsen, circa 1567
Oils on Gessobord, 11x14.

Here's the stats on each layer:

55.25 hrs total

Started in June, finished in October

7 Layers:

Initial Sketch: 2 hr
1 Imprimatura: .5 hr
2 Umbra 1: 2.5 hr
3 Umbra 2: 8.25 hr
4 Dead layer: 17 hr
5 Color 1: 6.5 hr
6 Color 2: 5.5 hr
7 Finishing: 11.5 hr

-- Linda

04-25-2011, 08:19 PM
Excellent work. It's a beautiful painting. Would this technique translate well to acrylic painting?

04-25-2011, 10:38 PM
Wow, talk about resurrecting an old thread! Thanks!

Yes, I think you could probably do this with acrylics - it might handle a bit different, for example I don't know how dry brush scumbling would work, but there shouldn't be too much difference to prevent you from coming out with a good painting.

-- Linda