Week 4 – The Palace of Versailles


Week 4 of Let’s Paint Paris!

The Palace of Versailles was built in the 17th century for King Louis XIV, The Sun King. I encourage you to start the week with a video “tour” of Versailles. Versailles is ornate, opulent, and gold. There is so much gold! There is so much going on in the rooms it’s overwhelming. We’ll begin the week by painting some of the details – things often overlooked because there is so much to see in a single spot. We’ll zoom out a bit and paint part of room, then zoom out more and paint the famous gardens, then the outside of the Palace.


Daily painting is hard. Often we have good intentions and start off strong but can’t maintain it. Be kind to yourself if you’ve missed several days. Pick up the paints and try again – at whatever pace works for you. Don’t put pressure on yourself – just practice, play and experiment. In addition to the photos in this email, there are reference photos on the Let’s Paint Paris Pinterest board to paint from.

Watercolor Thoughts

I developed my watercolor process by painting regularly. When you do things over and over you develop a way of working. You figure out what works (and you do more of that) and what doesn’t (and you do less of that). With each new painting, especially of a new subject, I’m figuring things out as I go. It’s not my personality to plan too much. I’m more of an impatient, dive right in kind of person. That’s why I don’t draw intricate pencil sketches before painting. If I can get away with it, I don’t sketch at all. I enjoy the challenge of turning the beginning blobs (the ugly stage) into something recognizable. Over time, as you paint more, you’ll develop your own process – you’ll incorporate tips from others, and things you learned on your own. A way of working that suits your personality will emerge.

Watercolor Tip – Color right out of the tube is bright and saturated. Depending on the subject matter you are painting it may look unnatural. Mix the color’s complement (the color across the color wheel) to tone the color down. Mixing a color with it’s complement also creates darks that work well in shaded areas. You’ll see on Day 1, I mix my gold color (yellow ochre) with purple to create the shadows.

marie Antionette bed chamber

Versailles Prompts

Day 1. The Mask of the Sun God Appollo (a symbol for Louis XIV) from the Golden Gate – The original gate was demolished during the French Revolution. The $8 million replica is decorated with 100,000 gold leaves. Learn more here.

Day 2. Floral Embroidery – A staff of nine seamstresses worked for nine years to recreate the embroideries in the Queen’s bedchamber (photo above). It is spectacular! See embroidery detail here.

Day 3. Sliver of Grandeur – Paint a room or part of a room. The photo below was taken just before I walked out of a room. It’s just a corner of a room, but the amount of detail in it is astounding – gold trim, paintings, ornate wallpaper, chandeliers, sculptures. Attempting to paint it illustrates just how much is in that small space!

Day 4. The Gardens – The Gardens at Versailles are the largest in the world at almost 2,000 acres. Louis XIV considered the gardens to be just as important as the Palace. Learn more here.

Day 5. The Palace – The palace contains 721,206 square feet of floorspace. It has grown dramatically since its early days as a hunting lodge. This interesting 3D animation shows how it grew and changed throughout the years.

Day 6 & 7. Free Choice – You may need these days to finish some of your earlier paintings. If not, pick another reference photo from the Let’s Paint Paris Pinterest board.

Week 4 Videos
Password is the same for videos as web pages.

I’d love to hear how you are progressing – share on Instagram with the hashtag #Letspaintparis and tag me @eileenmckenna.
Au Revoir!