Blue Doors and Satillo Tile

October 24, 2014

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The bright blue door and gates are made of light and dark shades of Pthalo Blue + White. The intense color comes forward from the more muted blues in the distance.

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The first step in painting the courtyard floor is to cover the entire surface with the light and shadow pattern. The roof mixtures are used for the satillo tiles. Strokes of blue from the door and purple from the Wisteria are made in the shadows to give the impression of them reflecting on the wet tile.

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The perspective lines of the tile are drawn freehand into the wet paint of the floor.

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After the horizontal lines separating the tiles are etched into the thick paint of the courtyard floor I start on the Daylilies. These are some of the few flowers I don’t follow my usual FLOWERS FIRST, LEAVES LAST sequence. It would be difficult to paint the long, strap-like leaves around the blossoms. I’ll come back later to paint the “ghost” flowers that are already casting shadows on the wall and door. HMMMM, you never know, Halloween is just around the corner :)

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The painting, still attached to the backing cardboard, is removed from the easel and placed flat on my taboret. I had to shoo Molly off and have to be  extra vigilant while I paint the bottom of the canvas. I don’t want her to jump up and land right in the middle of the wet piece! That’s happened before, once was more than enough. The perspective lines of the tiles are continued over the edge. If you’d like to enlarge this or any of the other pictures just click on the image.

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WHEW! Getting all those lines straight and in the correct perspective is a challenge. Come join me tomorrow and we’ll do a little gardening. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG


October 23, 2014

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But before we get to the Wisteria we have to make the roof for it to cascade over! My mixes for the terra-cotta roof tiles are as follows. Mixtures #1 and #2. Different proportions of Cadmium Orange + MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) #3. Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + White. #4 and #5. Different proportions of Cadmium Orange + MUD + a little Pthalo Blue + White.

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The terra-cotta colors are scumbled together on the roof. Then I come back with my large Bright (square) brush and make the textured highlights on the individual tiles. A few strokes of Ultramarine Blue + White are added at the far edge of the roof to make it recede.

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The walls are constructed and I’ve already blocked in the Wisteria on the roof. I got so involved in painting I forgot to stop and take a progress photo, OPPPS :) The twisted trunk of the vine is drawn into the wet paint of the adobe with a mix of MUD + Liquin.

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So here we go. The blossom color of the Wisteria is painted first. I use mixtures in various proportions of Dioxazine Purple + White and Dioxazine Purple + Ultramarine Blue + White.

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Next I paint the foliage around the masses of purple, shaping the draping blooms. I follow this sequence, FLOWERS FIRST, LEAVES LAST on most flowering plants. Painting the blossoms first keeps the color crisp and clean. If the leaves were done first my brush would pick up some of the green as I paint the flowers, muddying their color.

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The final touch is to indicate some of the individual Wisteria petals. The paint is gently “Laid” on top of the underlying color so I don’t pick up any on my brush.

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Our wispy wisteria is complete! If you’d like to see the image enlarged just click on the image. Thank you for following along today. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Steppin’ UP

October 21, 2014

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We’ll begin with the sky. My mixtures are as follows:  #1. Cobalt Blue + White. #2. Pthalo Blue + White. #3. Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson + White. #4. Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + White. If you would like to know more about our Double Primary Color Mixing System that Jack developed CLICK HERE.

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The blue of the sky is done first. Since this piece is going to be painted on to the edges of the gallery wrap canvas I have to pull out my stool to do the top. So I’m Steppin’ UP today! You can see my easel setup here. The easel, palette and taborette are on wheels. This way I can adjust my working furniture to the size of the painting. It’s hard to work though when Molly is sound asleep beside me. I can hear her little snores! Oh, you can click on the picture if you’d like to see it larger.

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When the sky is finished I “Paint Forward” beginning with the most distant mountain. It’s made bluer so it will recede. The one that is closest is warmer so it advances. Then the landscape is painted. The farthest edge of the Bluebonnets are painted with Ultramarine Blue + White. The part of the field in the foreground is mixes of Cobalt Blue + White.

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A stream meanders though the limestone rocks. I use mixes of Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + White for the boulders. A little MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) is added into the shadows.

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A waterfall splashes into the crystal clear pond below. The limestone rocks at the right of the falls are brought down behind Gragson to accentuate his dark head. Sunlight streams across the water silhouetting both dogs. Thanks for following along today, hope you’ll visit our studio again soon. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

From Paper to Canvas

October 19, 2014

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Here’s my pen and ink sketch for our collaboration. We’re including Denise and Phil’s “Fur Babies” in the painting!

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To make the transition from the drawing in my sketchbook to the canvas I’ll use an oil wash of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. That’s the small brownish blob to the left of the paint mix! It’s an alkyd based product that makes the oil paint dry faster.

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Dipping my brush in the oil wash mixture I begin drawing the Southwestern architecture of the building up on the canvas.

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The Wisteria dripping over the building and gate is lightly indicated.

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Now the landscape forms in the background are drawn in.

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The chili rista is washed in with Alizarin Crimson and Magenta. If you’d like to see this or any of the other images enlarged just click on them. The plants are labeled so I don’t forget what our original plan was :)

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Now for “Baby”, Denise and Phil’s Maine Coon Cat. I block in her shape, nestled on the ledge of the fountain.

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“Rumsfeld” and “Gragson” are now added. I don’t worry about doing any detail on them at this point. I just want to make sure their sizes and silhouettes correct. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Thinking Ahead

October 18, 2014

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This commission is going to be painted around the edges on a gallery wrapped canvas. We have to think ahead about preparing the piece for shipping! A square is painted on the back of the canvas with White KILZ. This is where I label the piece with the title, our copyright code of authenticity, my signature and a special personalization to the collector. The KILZ paint keeps the Sharpie pen from bleeding through. A hanging wire is attached and then screw eyes are placed into the stretcher bars at the red arrows.


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Here is a closeup of the screw eye. To make it more convenient for our collectors we also tape wall hangers and nails to the hanging wire.

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This canvas is 30 inches by 36 inches. A piece of double ply cardboard is cut to 36 inches by 42 inches. The canvas is turned right side up and centered on the cardboard. Then I press down on the canvas, the screw eyes make indentations in the cardboard. If you will enlarge the image (just click on the picture) you can see an arrow drawn on the canvas. It’s directly to the right of my hand. This was penciled on when I labeled the canvas, it indicates the top of the piece. The arrow insures the painting will be in the same orientation as the label on the back. Believe me, I’ve made the mistake of not marking the top of the canvas and ended up making a painting with an upside down label on the back :)

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The indentations are enlarged with an ice pick.

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The canvas is placed back on the cardboard, the screw eyes pushed through the holes and nails are placed in them. This anchors the canvas securely to the backing board.

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Tape is placed over each screw eye and nail to make sure they stay in place.

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Now the complete unit is put up on the easel. Molly, our studio supervisor, is in her official spot. We’re ready to begin painting. We’ll get going tomorrow, hope you’ll come watch. If you would like to receive an email every time I publish a new post please feel free to subscribe to my blog. CLICK THIS LINK and scroll to the upper right side of the page. You will see a heading EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS. Just enter your email address and click the button “Sign me up!”  It’s easy. And if you enjoy my blog please CLICK the FaceBook LIKE Button. As we say in Texas, “Much Obliged!

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Desert Retreat

October 16, 2014

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Let’s get to planting. I love little growies that tumble over the sides of planters. The clump of Lavander fits here perfectly. The mass of blossoms of the California Poppies is blocked in with Cadmium Red Light + Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Red Light and Cadmium Orange. The foliage is then worked around the flower color.

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Mums fill the terra-cotta container in front of the planter. The flowers are mixes of Cadmium Red Deep + Magenta, Cadmium Red Deep and Cadmium Red Light + Cadmium Red Deep. After the leaves are painted bright yellow centers complete the rusty red Mums.

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White Hollyhocks are fun to paint. The blossom area is first painted with various mixes of Ultramarine Blue + White, Dioxazine Purple + White and Pthalo Blue + White. This color will be the shadows of the flowers.

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Foliage is painted next. I use my large Bright (Square) brush to form the leaves and shape the flowers. If you would like to know more about the brushes I use CLICK HERE.

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Sunlight dances across the papery thin Hollyhocks. Pure White is used to highlight the individual blossoms. You may click on the image to see it larger.

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Tall stalks covered with seed pods finish out the Hollies. Now for the Sunflowers. They are painted in the same sequence: Flowers First, Leaves Last. Then the large, dark centers are added. PRESTO! Sunflowers magically appear.

SI8214 Desert Retreat 24x18Desert Retreat     24 inches by 18 inches  Original Oil Painting

Can’t you just feel those sunwarmed tiles beneath your feet as you walk through the flower filled courtyard? Listen closely and you’ll hear the distant yips of Coyotes! Desert Retreat is ready to head to Arizona, bringing the serenity of the Sonoran wilderness to its new home. What great memories we’ve had while I’ve been working on this piece. I love doing commissions, if you have a special place you’d like captured on canvas please feel free to contact us. Just CLICK HERE. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Cluck, Cluck, Cluck

October 15, 2014

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Turquoise gates are painted with a mix of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + White. The lighter portion is the same mixture with additional White.

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The old Mesquite door is made of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Cadmium Red Light + a little more Alizarin Crimson + White. This is almost exactly like the front door of our home, we love the little Speakeasy window!

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Now let’s tile the floor. The entire surface is completely covered with the light and shadow pattern. The blue at the back of both levels makes the floor recede. Then the perspective lines are drawn freehand into the wet paint with a fine liner brush.

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The lower level in the foreground remains in shadow. This acts as a “Threshold”, directing the viewer’s eye to the lighter area beyond. Think of standing outside on a warm summer’s eve. The front door of your home is open, revealing the well lit interior. Your gaze is drawn through the darkness, across the threshold of the door to the light inside. In this painting your eye is directed to the sunny courtyard and the desert landscape through the open gate. The “Threshold” technique also helps to give the art a feeling of depth.

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Now it’s time to add the Yellow and Green chili peppers to our Ristra. You can click on this or any of the other images to enlarge them.

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CLUCK, CLUCK, CLUCK. Our little hen is looking for crumbs and goodies to eat while the Rooster keeps watch. We’ll be planting in our next session. Hope you’ll come help :) Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG



A Casita in the Desert

October 14, 2014

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We begin today’s session by blocking in the casita. It’s fun to paint southwestern architecture with the rounded adobe and vigas protruding from the walls. As you go through the post please remember, you can click on any of the pictures to make them larger.

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The rista has been washed in with Alizarin Crimson. Now that it’s dry I work around the individual peppers, shaping them with the thick paint. The red of the chilis reflects into the cast shadow so a bit of Alizarin Crimson is added into the darker wall color. This ristra is going to be a little different, it will have yellow and green peppers added later.

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The mass of Wisteria blossoms is blocked in with various mixes of Dioxazine Purple + Ultramarine Blue + White and Dioxazine Purple + White.

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I come back with different shades of green made of Viridian Green + Cadmium Yellow Medium and paint around the purples, shaping the Wisteria blooms. I usually follow this sequence: Flowers First, Leaves Last. If I painted the foliage first it would be easy to pick up some of the greens on my brush as the blossoms are added and muddy their color.

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The Bougainvillea is painted in the same sequence. At the very last I pop in those bracts illuminated by the sun. The thick paint is carefully “Laid” on top of the underlying color. That way the blossoms retain their bright hue.

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Erika had a special request: a Rooster and hen in the courtyard. No Problem! They are drawn in with a thin wash of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. Thank you for visiting our studio today! If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

I Love the Desert

October 13, 2014



Erika and Lance requested a desert landscape in front of the distant mountain instead of the water that was in the original pen and ink drawing. The lake is on the other side of Red Mountain, a stately landmark they can see from their home in Mesa, Arizona. So…taking a trip down memory lane I pulled out some pictures of our home in Carefree, Arizona where we lived several years ago. This is where I fell in love with the subtleties of the desert.


We had nine amazing Saguaro cacti on our property, stalwart sentinels standing upright amidst the soft desert foliage.

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The sky is painted first since it’s the source of light. The upper regions are Cobalt Blue + White. Closer to the horizon the sky becomes lighter and greener. There I use a mix of Pthalo Blue + a touch of Lemon Yellow + White. Work then begins on Red Mountain. Mixtures in various proportions of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Cadmium Red Light + Cadmium Orange + White are used for the massive rocks.

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Bracing against a mahl stick to steady my hand I delineate the details of the Saguaro Cactus. What is a mahl stick? CLICK HERE to learn more.

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Santa Rita Cactus and Mexican Bush Sage grow at the base of a feathery Palo Verde.

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Our desert landscape is finished, tomorrow we’ll start on the casita! Do remember, to see any of the pictures larger just click on the image. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

On the Fly

October 12, 2014

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I always sketch up the basic plan on the canvas with a brush dipped in a thin oil wash of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. Drawing begins with the building, it’s the skeleton of the painting.

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As I draw I label the flowers and vines, I don’t want to forget what I’m supposed to paint :) Erika and Lance decided they wanted to change the Bougainvillea on the left side, over the door, to Wisteria.

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We keep the Bougainvillea on the right side, the basic shapes of the Hollyhocks and Sunflowers are drawn in. Next the steps leading to the upper courtyard are built.

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I realize there isn’t enough room for the container to the left of the door that was shown in my  original sketch. Sometimes in painting you just have to make some editorial changes “On the Fly”! Tomorrow we’ll start applying color. See ya! Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG


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