Here is a step by step demonstration of a single subject using the classical realist approach to painting. I have taken this directly from the approach used by schools in Florence.
I begin with a drawing which can be done on paper and transferred or drawn directly onto canvas as you see here.
Next, I block in the darks and shadow areas. Ideally, I should use three value massing to keep the shapes simple and clean - but admit that I usually get carried away by prior habits and start working as if I'm drawing in paint. I love the way paintings look in monochrome!
In the following step, I begin to add color and create the forms that live in the light. I'm adding a bright red in the cloth area early so that it can dry and allow for thin transparent red layers in the mid tones later. Once the lights are finished, the darks simply require a few strokes of color to darken them and the painting is done!
So - I should share with my students who read this blog that THIS is the SLOOOOW and steady way to make a painting. Normally with a subject like this, I prefer to work Alla Prima and block in the colors, making corrections as I go and finish the painting in one sitting. You can see examples of this in the previous two posts. But, the approach above works really well for people in my current situation (with a wonderful new baby at home) who only have a few stolen moments here and there to paint between other commitments. This way, one is not relying on being able to re-work the "drawing", value and color all at once while the paint is still wet. Instead, using this approach, one can focus on just capturing the light patterns during a first sitting and then sort of go on "autopilot" and enjoy knocking in the color during future sittings.