Based on the methods of Flemish Masters of the 16th and 17th centuries; painters such as Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck.

The Flemish technique is also known as the 7 Step Method. The seven steps are:

1. Imprimatura

is an initial stain of color painted on a ground. It provides a painter with a transparent, toned ground, which will allow light falling onto the painting to reflect through the paint layers.


2. First umber layer

use a medium of 2 or 3 parts solvent to 1 part oil for the umber layer, increasing the oil in each layer

3. Second umber layer purpose of second umber layer is to establish all the values, improve detail and bring three dimensional feel to the subject.  Since burnt umber doesn't change over time umber layers also play an integral part in archival quality of the painting.

4. Grayscale layer

3. Mix paint colors for the dead layer
In the Flemish method, the dead layer is actually a grayscale layer (it’s “dead” because of its lack of color). The colors you’ll need for your dead layer are traditionally mixed from Flake White, Lamp Black, Yellow Ochre, Prussian Blue, and Burnt Umber.
NOTE: Flake White does contain lead. If you decide to paint with Flake White, use it with caution. Titanium White is an acceptable substitute without lead.
It’s a good idea to mix a range of grayscale colors before starting to paint. A good dark mixture is two parts Lamp Black, one part Burnt Umber, and a small amount of Prussian Blue. Then for your lightest value, use Flake White (or Titanium White) with a small amount of the dark mixture to reduce the intensity.
Next, mix a middle tone with two parts of the dark mixture and one part of the light mixture. Then mix five intermediate tones between the light and middle mixture and five more between the middle and the dark mixture.
If you’d like, you can adjust your grayscale values with Yellow Ochre, Burnt Umber or Prussian Blue to get warmer or cooler tones. The “cooler” your dead layer is, the brighter and warmer your color glazes over the top will appear, so keep in mind how you’d like your final painting to appear.

5. First color layer


6. Second color layer
7. Detailing layer
Traditionally, each layer was allowed to dry for a minimum of seven weeks, so it’s quite a long process.

​​​​​​​Jan Treadgold