Entranced by Peter Paul Rubens
When I recently visited the Prado Museum in Madrid, I was utterly entranced by the paintings of Peter Paul Rubens, which I’d only seen in books before. Rubens, who I love more than even Rembrandt, is known for how he captured the feeling of light on skin with more brilliance than anyone else in the history of fine art. I could just feel the life in the people he painted with his gorgeous, flowing style. His paintings actually glow, which the finest art books do not capture.
In his day, Rubens’ palette of colors and the way he mixed them were unlike what the other artists of his time used. For example, he painted with brighter red and yellow and portrayed more reflected light (highlights) than the other painters. He also concocted an original, quick drying medium which he used for mixing his colors in order to make his paint dry quickly.
Rubens was not only one of the most prolific painters in history, he was also one the fastest painters ever known. Many of Rubens’ panels were completed in one day, most often painting wet into wet rather than in the conventional oil painting method of his day of building a painting in semi-transparent layers of paint called glazes. This was more time consuming as each layer must be dry before applying the next. Rubens, however, painted rapidly as if sketching with the brush, creating a luscious realism in a loose style. To read a good analysis by a present day artist on how Rubens painting and used medium, please see this article.