When I was in London, I got to see a self-portrait by Murillo. Murillo’s faces are always great,they really feel real. His Madonnas feel like they could be any 15 year-old girl that you know. From a conservation standpoint, his paintings always seem to be in the best of shape. As a guy who does a lot of faces/heads, Murillo stands as one whose faces are worthy of emulation.

In this self-portrait, Murillo shows his tricks or tools of the trade…i.e. what do you need to use if you intend to paint as he did?

In this painting Murillo displays his palette. The colors he used (or at least seem to be) Lead white, Dark Yellow Ochre or Light Raw Sienna, Vermillion, Alizarin Crimson (Or Rose Dore/Deep Madder), Burnt Umber, and Black. Basically White, yellow, a warm and a cool red, dark brown (which is really a yellow), and black which goes blue with white. Pretty simple 2 yellows, 2 reds, 1 blue/black.

He also displays a drawing done in red chalk, a ruler, a compass, and a porte crayon with a very long sharpened stick of sanguine. Funny how things don’t change. Most of the best painters I know use very similar materials. I have been using nearly the same palette, but I also includes some bright yellow and orange cadmiums, a Prussian Blue/Black mix, and I exchange the burnt umber for transparent oxide brown. Now, if I can just paint like Murillo…:)

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