From Paper to Canvas

October 19, 2014

SJ8914 Step 8

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

SJ8914 Step 1

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.


SJ8914 Step 2

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

SI8214 Desert Retreat step 31

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

SI8214 Desert Retreat step 5

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

Let’s Go to Arizona!

October 11, 2014

SI8214 Desert Retreat step 1

Starting on a new commission today. It’s to be painted on an 18 inch by 24 inch standard canvas that will be placed in a traditional frame. SO…..we have to do a little extra preparation in order to be able to pack and ship the wet painting. The canvas is laid on a sheet of double ply cardboard that measures 24 inches by 30 inches. Screw eyes are inserted at three different spots into the stretcher bars on the back of the canvas. The painting is labeled with the title, our code of authenticity and a special personalization to the collector. The labeling is done on the white block that was painted with KILZ so the sharpie doesn’t bleed through to the front. You can see this better if you enlarge the image, just click on the picture.

SI8214 Desert Retreat step 2

After the screw eyes are inserted the canvas is centered and pushed down on the cardboard. The screw eyes make indentations in the cardboard. The impressions are enlarged with an icepick.

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Placing the canvas back on the cardboard the screw eyes are pushed through the holes. Then a nail is inserted to keep the canvas secure.

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The canvas with the cardboard backing is put on the easel. You can see my palette, the regular colors in our Double Primary mixing system are along the top.  The paint lined up on the side is left over from the previous painting.  If you would like to learn more about our color mixing system CLICK HERE.

 Sketch Erika and Lance

After discussing several ideas with our collector a sketch is made. It allows them to see the basic plan of the painting and will serve as my “road map” as I work. Hope you’ll visit our studio again tomorrow, I’ll begin sketching on the canvas. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG


Spicy Shadows

October 9, 2014

SJ8714 Spicy Shadows step 1

I have a question for all of you. One of our followers said she is getting the emails but no pictures show up. I don’t have any idea what the problem is. Has anyone else had this happen?

OK, let’s get to work on my last little piece for the Motorcoach Event next week. Jack and I thought a courtyard gate with a chili ristra would be fun.

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The color of objects influences their surroundings. The red of the Ristra is reflected into the shadow. So I drag a little Alizarin Crimson into the wet paint of the shadow cast on the wall.

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The gate is painted with light and dark shades of Ultramarine Blue + White. If you’d like to see this or any of the other pictures larger just click on the image.

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Morning Glories cascade over the garden wall. The flowers of the white Matilija Poppies are blocked in with various mixes of Dioxazine Purple + White, Pthalo Blue + White and Pthalo Blue + a touch of Lemon Yellow + White.

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The foliage is painted around the masses of blossom color. Then the centers are added. Can you see why the Matilija Poppy is sometimes called the “Fried Egg Flower”?

SJ8714 Spicy Shadows 6x6Spicy Shadows   6 inches x 6 inches   Original Oil Painting

Luscious Petunias are planted in the terra cotta containers and Cadmium Red Light highlights the chili peppers that cast Spicy Shadows across the bright blue gate. Have a Happy Day! Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

A Colorful Spot

October 8, 2014

SJ8614 A Colorful Spot step 1

Flower Markets and Umbrellas, I love em! As Jack will tell you, I’ve never met a garden shop I didn’t like! Our first step after sketching the basic plan up on the panel is to block in the background wall.

SJ8614 A Colorful Spot step 2

The setting for our little flower market is constructed. Several of you have asked if I wait to sign my paintings until the piece is finished. As you can see here I don’t. It all depends on when I paint the area where I’m going to put my signature. It’s easiest to make the fine lines of my signature into fresh paint. If I waited until the area was dry it would be difficult to make the thin brushstrokes over the lumps and bumps of the underlying color.

SJ8614 A Colorful Spot step 3

Nasturtiums fill the terra cotta containers on the ledge at the base of the wall. The flowers are blocked in with several mixes of Cadmium Red Light + Cadmium Red Deep. The leaves are then painted with warm greens made of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Yellow Medium.

SJ8614 A Colorful Spot step 4

Now for the bright umbrella. The lightest panel is blocked in with Cadmium Yellow Medium + Lemon Yellow + White. The next darkest panel is made of pure Cadmium Yellow Medium. Those in shadow are Cadmium Yellow Medium + Cadmium Orange + a touch of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson).

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The tall cylindrical pots in the front are perfect for Oriental Lilies.

SJ8614 A Colorful Spot 6x6A Colorful Spot   6 inches x 6 inches   Original Oil Painting

Mexican Bush Sage lazily hugs the base of the containers, making for A Colorful Spot. Wouldn’t you like to take home a bunch of those Lilies? Just an update, Jack is doing very well. We really appreciate all of you and your kind comments. We have the best readers! Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG



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