A painter has to be a kind of magician with a brush. He must put on just the right color in just the right amount in just the right place of his canvas. Diego Velazquez did that better than even the best of painters. His touch was sure, it was perfect.
And yet: everyone has heard about Velazquez’s pentimenti. Those are corrections an artist makes. If he was so sure with the brush, why did he make so many corrections?
Velazquez had to oversee the decoration of the king’s palaces. He had to decide where to hang up his own pictures. Every day he would walk past them and reconsider. Wouldn’t that leg look better a little more forward? Or: isn’t the king’s musket a little too long?
Here is a portrait of King Philip with changes, pentimenti, in his left leg, his glove, and his musket:
See the comments below on Velasquez’s curious brush-cleaning habit.