National Gallery of Art
Diego Velázquez, who was born today in 1599, ranks among the greatest masters of 17th-century Europe. The steps in the artist's process are visible in this painting, "The Needlewoman" because it remains unfinished. He began by priming the canvas with a gray-green base. Next, he indicated the main forms of the composition, sketching them in with darker paint, then brushing them in with broad areas of opaque color, and finally, building up the face—the only area that appears to be finished—with transparent layers of glaze, giving it the effect of flesh seen through softly diffused light.
Diego Velázquez, "The Needlewoman," c. 1640/1650, oil on canvas