Splash and Matt

October 24, 2016


One of the things I love about painting portraits in oils is you can come back later and smooth the color transitions. Working in acrylics doesn’t allow this because they dry so quickly. And…if you’d like your oil paint to stay workable even longer you can add a tiny drop of clove oil to the mixes. I’ve not done that, the regular drying time of oils works well for me.  I put my laptop on the palette and enlarge the photo of Matt. This allows me to compare the two images and get his likeness as close as I can.


Next I’ll complete the Chicago BEARS logo on the collar. My wrist is braced against my mahl stick to steady my hand as I delineate the letters. You may click on the image to see it larger.


The brim of the ball cap is highlighted so it will POP forward. Matt looks like he could be a professional baseball player doesn’t he?


Matt’s arm is blocked in so I can paint the White on Splash’s tummy. A light grey is used, I don’t what the white down here to take attention away from Splash’s face.


Matt’s arm and hand are painted with less detail for the same reason. His and Splash’s faces are the focal point, if the hand and fingers were highly detailed they would detract. The ends of the fingers are made a bit bluer so they will “Turn” around Splash’s body.

sj2916-splash-and-matt-19x16Splash and Matt        19 inches tall by 16 inches wide

The final touch is to add Splash’s name tag! It’s funny, I could hear Jack’s voice in my ear as I’ve been working on this piece. All of his advice and teaching over the years has been floating though my mind. How fortunate I am to have been able to watch and learn from a Master Portrait Artist. Thanks for following along, I’ve enjoyed having you! And please remember, ALWAYS feel free to ask questions. With BIG HUGS,


Blocking Matt In

October 22, 2016


Or should it be Blocking In Matt? I’m not sure which is correct so we’ll just move on to my paint recipes for his skin tones! #1. Cerulean Blue + White. #2. Two shades of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + more Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Orange + White. #3. MUD + a touch of Alizarin Crimson + Cadmium Red Light + Cadmium Orange + White. #4. A couple of mixes in different proportions of MUD + Cadmium Orange + a tiny bit of Ultramarine Blue + White.


We’ll begin by painting Matt’s neck, making his Adam’s apple less prominent. Next the shadows on Matt’s face cast by the cap are established. The light is coming from the upper left so his forehead, upper nose and the side of his face on the right will be in the shade of the cap’s brim.


There will be a tiny bit of light on the cheek where the sun passes over his nose and illuminates the cheek bone. The lighter areas of Matt’s face are almost blocked in. The face is divided into three zones. The Forehead is lighter and a bit more yellow. You won’t see that here because of the cap. The band across the ears, cheeks and nose are redder. The skin in these areas is very thin, the blood vessels are close to the surface which makes it more red. The lower face is bluer because of facial hair, especially in men. Matt is very fair, so he doesn’t have much of a Five O’Clock shadow. But his face is still a bit more blue in this area.


Now for Matt’s hazel eyes. I’ve made 3 shades of a mix of Sap Green + a tiny bit of Cadmium Orange + White. The eye on the left is finished, I’ll explain the steps as I paint the one on the right. The pupil is painted with MUD + Liquin, the I cover the entire iris area with the darkest shade of my green mixture. You may click on the image to see it larger.


When the light coming in from the upper left strikes the rounded cornea it makes a pinpoint highlight at 11 o’clock. Then the light is transmitted through the cornea and illuminates the iris on the opposite side. So I make a crescent with the middle value green on the lower right portion of the iris. Then the very center of that crescent is highlighted with the lightest green.


The last step of Jack’s technique of painting eyes is to add the pinpoint highlight on the cornea with pure White. Notice it is placed at the edge of the pupil mostly in the iris. You don’t want the catch light actually in the pupil, your subject will look like they are on drugs. And don’t trust your photo reference on the catch light. Most photos are taken with several light sources, showing multiple highlights in the eyes. Look at Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent’s portraits, that’s where Jack learned how to paint eyes. And, I’m really glad I didn’t go with the Sage Green background, it would have been so similar to Matt’s eyes they would have gotten lost. With this background Matt’s eyes sparkle and stand out.


Now we’ll block in the lower portion of Matt’s face.


We’re done for today. I still have work to do on Matt’s face, it is just roughed in at this point. I’ll come back in the next session and finish him out. Thank you for following along today. Again, I want to thank all of you for the love and support you’ve extended to me. I’ve enjoyed hearing your memories of “Our Jack”, they bring smiles to my heart. You don’t know how much I appreciate each and every one of you. BIG HUGS,


Painting Splash

October 18, 2016


Splash’s coat is painted with several different mixes of Ivory Black + White. The highlights will be different from my reference photo because the light is coming in from the upper left. Therefore the right side of his face, as he is looking at us, will be in shadow.


His collar is a deep wine, burgundy color. It won’t show much but that little pop of color under his chin adds interest to the painting. I’ll come back later and do Splash’s tag.


Splash’s moustache is a little warmer than the rest of his fur. Right now this is my under painting, the whiskers won’t be nearly as brown when I’m finished.  Also the hair under his nose needs to be darker.

VIDEO! Jack always said the eyes are the soul of the portrait and taught me his special technique for painting them. Come follow along as I paint our sweet fur baby’ eyes.


Splash is pretty much finished. I may need to come back and glaze the white on his chin, it might be too bright. I’ll get the rest of the canvas covered and then decide. I didn’t put much detail in the hair on his front legs, I don’t want them to pull attention away from his face. If you’d like to see this or any of the other pictures larger just click on the image. We’ll begin work on Matt in our next session. HUGS,

Painting the Background

October 17, 2016


Mixtures of several different proportions of Sap Green + Ultramarine Blue + a little Pthalo Blue + Ivory Black + White are made for the background. The values range from dark to light. Renee and I had originally talked about more of a sage green background. But as I studied Splash’s coloration I felt he would look  better against bluer tones.

Oh, I am so frustrated. SILLY ME…..I forgot to focus the camera before I began recording my video of painting the background. But fortunately you can still see it well enough to follow the process. Since Spash is so dark I paint the area behind him lighter. The background darkens toward the right side of the canvas to accentuate Matt’s skin tones.


I block in Matt’s turtleneck while the background is still wet. This allows me to keep the edges soft. I want everything on the lower portion of the canvas to kind of fade into the background. This way the viewer’s gaze will automatically be pulled to the sharper, more detailed areas of Splash’s and Matt’s faces.


I do the same with Splash’s lower body and keep detail to a minimum. While the paint of the background is completely pliable I go ahead to establish his entire outline, feathering the edges of the hair on his front legs, ears and head.


Keeping all of the edges soft avoids the appearance that our subjects have been “Cut Out” and placed against the background. Enjoyed having you visit our studio today, hope you’ll come back soon. HUGS,




Jack’s Speciality

October 15, 2016


Starting on a portrait today, Jack’s specialty. I’m so fortunate that he was always the coach and teacher. When Jack had a portrait commission he would explain what he was doing and why as he worked. Our easels were set up side by side so I could just look over and see his painting. This piece has been commissioned as a surprise for Matt, the gentleman in the photo. He’s holding Splash, their dear furbaby who is now in Heaven.


The first step is to lightly draw my subjects on the canvas in pencil.


Next I begin washing Splash in with a thin mix of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. In the photo his eyes are just red dots where the camera flash reflects off the back of the retinas. So I have to “make up” his eyes. Jack has a wonderful technique for this which I’ll explain in detail when I actually paint Splash’s eyes. Please remember as you read though my blog, you may click on any of the pictures to see them larger.


Splash is roughly blocked in, now we’ll focus on Matt. His face, arm and hand are covered in a light wash. Then I come back and establish the shadow pattern on his face. Flash photography flattens the subject, there is no definite light source. The old Masters painted portraits with the light coming in from the upper left, that’s what I’m going to do. SO…I’ll just make up the shadows. One thing Jack and I did was study and photograph shadows, we have lots of reference I can refer to.


Matt is a Chicago Bears fan, his turtleneck has a tiny BEARS on the collar. Renee especially asked me to make sure that is in the portrait.


The initial oil wash sketch is finished. This is not meant to be an exact likeness at this stage. I just want to get the canvas covered in the basic values to give me a guide to follow as I begin applying opaque oil paint. Thank you for following along. 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!




October 13, 2016

So many have asked, “How are you doing?” You don’t know how much your love and concern is appreciated, I consider all of you my friends. Well, I have my moments but overall I’m doing much better. One person wrote, “Do you talk to Jack?” YOU BET, ALL the time! It’s funny, after being a caregiver for 8 years it took me awhile to figure out what “I Wanted to DO!” Now I’ve gotten into a regular routine of painting, walking and gardening. Plus several friends are making sure I get out and about. God has so blessed me with wonderful people like you in my life. It really has made this time easier. I have such fun memories of Jack’s and my years together, plus knowing we will be reunited again in Heaven one day gives me peace.


Fortunately Jack taught me to live one day at a time, not allowing uncontrollable events to blemish our calendar with a black X. When we first got together he said, “Mikki, we may not be able to control what happens to us but we can control what we do about it. Just because something bad happens we don’t have to let it ruin our entire day. Let’s make up our minds to have NO BAD DAYS.” You can imagine our delight when we found this T-shirt in St. Croix.


And….. we had to get the matching tote bag as well!  Our philosophy is being put to its greatest test. Oh, how I miss him, but I can’t even mark a black X on July 15, the day God took Jack home. How could I when the love of my life is whole again and experiencing the glory of being with Our Father in Heaven? God has a new path for me and I feel Jack’s legacy of helping artists now rests on my shoulders. I’m here for all of you.


I decided to make this sign of one of Jack’s Whiteisms, “Today is a GREAT day to have a GREAT day!” For those of you who haven’t read his Art Marketing Books, his words of wisdom are sprinkled throughout the manuscripts under the heading WHITEISM. I must see this at least a hundred times a day, it helps me to stay upbeat and positive.


Also have this picture on our refrigerator. Now….how can you look at this without smiling? It was taken when we lived in Midland, Texas; we picked up the pinata at a roadside vendor. Jack named it “Fluffy Pinata”! SO….. HAVE A GREAT DAY! BIG HUGS,

Pots Galore

October 11, 2016


Let’s get to that beautiful blue, ceramic container. My color recipes are: #1. Ultramarine Blue + MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + a tiny bit of White. #2. Two shades of Ultramarine Blue + White. #3. A couple of mixes in different combinations of Ultramarine Blue + Cobalt Blue + White.

VIDEO! Working on the ceramic container. When painting over the edge of the gallery wrap canvas I have to go back over the sharp corner more than once to make sure it’s completely covered.


A mix of several different plants fill the tall container. We’ll plant the Petunias first. The blossoms are mixes of Magenta + a touch of Dioxazine Purple + White. Then leaves are added with combinations of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Yellow Medium.


When I need a lacy plant to cascade out of a container Silver Pony Foot fits the bill perfectly. The tiny, hoof shaped leaves are mixtures of White + Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange. The corner of a small Bright (square) brush is used to shape the individual leaves.


Spiky blossoms of Lavender, made of Dioxazine Purple + White, are a nice contrast in shape to the Petunias and Silver Pony Foot.


Now for the tropical touch of the Philodendron!


I always seem to come home from the nursery with many more plants than I actually need! The Lavender, Petunias and Silver Pony Foot I had left over from the blue container are planted in the terra cotta ones on the window sill. Don’t you think they look nice with the shutters?


Geraniums! A bunch of them, all lined up in a row! After blocking in the flowers with mixes of Cadmium Red Deep + Magenta, Cadmium Red Deep and Cadmium Red Medium, the foliage is painted. A bright, crisp green is mixed from different combinations of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Yellow Light.


Sweet Potato Vine is another of my “go to” draping plants. The heart shaped leaves bring a romantic flavor to the piece.


One of the distinctive characteristics that make Geraniums, well…… Geraniums, are the multiple flower buds. A small round brush is ideal to dot them in.


White African Daisies look so clean and crisp next to the Ultramarine/Cobalt Blue container. The shadows of the flowers are several combinations of White + Ultramarine Blue, White + Dioxazine Purple and White + Pthalo Blue. Pure White is reserved for those blossoms in the sunlight.

sj2816-pots-galore-20x24Pots Galore   20 inches tall by 24 inches wide

Centers and highlights complete the African Daisies. Pots Galore extend a pleasant greeting to all who visit! Thank you for following along. Jack and I have signed our correspondence with HUGS for many years. We both are huggers. The best explanation we ever found is that “A HUG is like a Boomerang – you get it back right away.” SO……BIG HUGS to y’all!

Floor and More….

October 9, 2016


We’re ready to begin on the satillo tile floor. My color mixtures are shown above. The recipes are as follows: #1. MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Cadmium Orange. #2. A couple of mixes of Cadmium Orange + Cadmium Red Light + MUD. #3. Cadmium Orange + Pthalo Blue + White. #5. All five blobs are combinations in various proportions of Cadmium Orange + MUD + White + just a tiny bit of Pthalo Blue. If you would like to know more about our Double Primary Color Mixing System that Jack developed CLICK HERE.


The entire floor area is covered to begin with, this allows me to get the light and shadow patterns just the way I want them.


A fine liner brush is used to pull the perspective lines into the wet paint of the floor.


The painting, still attached to the cardboard backing, is securely balanced between my easel and taboret. It certainly is easier to work on the bottom edge with the piece flat. That Molly is a ham. She was sound asleep until I went to take the photo, then she started rolling around! You may click on the image to see it larger.


The edges of the tiles are highlighted where the sun illuminates them.


Now I come back and finish the zig zag braces on the shutters. Don’t you think they add charm to the piece?


The individual chili peppers in the ristra are sculpted with thick paint mixtures of Cadmium Red Deep + Alizarin Crimson + White.


Cadmium Red Light is added to the floor mixes to use for the terra cotta containers. And that’s all for today’s session. Hope you’ll come back again to watch the progress of this piece. I’ll have a VIDEO in the next post! HUGS,

Sarza and Adobe

October 6, 2016


The basic structure is first sketched, then I begin washing in the fall leaves of the Sarza with Alizarin Crimson + Liquin and Sap Green + Liquin. These washes will give the foliage luminosity. I’ll come back later and work more on the Sarza but for now we’ll move on.


Sketching continues with all of the flower pots. I use a thin wash of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin to establish their general shapes.


The sketch on the canvas is complete, it will serve as my “Road Map” as I begin applying opaque oil paint.


Next we start constructing the building. Mixes of Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + MUD + White are used for the distinct Santa Fe adobe structure. A few strokes of Ultramarine Blue + White are made along the back edge of the door jamb so it will recede.


The door is painted with two shades of Pthalo Blue + a little Cadmium Orange + White. My wrist is braced against the mahl stick to steady my hand as I delineate the door hardware. Notice how the mahl stick hooks over the top of my easel.


The window and shutters are painted with the same mixtures as used on the door. It’s fun making up the shadows of the objects casting them.


A large Bright (Square) brush is used to shape the roof tiles. To learn more about the brushes I like to use CLICK HERE.


I’ll come back and add the zigzag bracing on the shutters. At this point the chili ristra is just washed in with Alizarin Crimson, I will sculpt the peppers with thick, opaque paint in another session. Thank you for following along. 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!


Putting Ideas Together

October 4, 2016


Santa Fe Art Collector, the gallery that represents my work in Santa Fe, sold 4 paintings last month. Talk about INSPIRATION! I’ve got to get busy filling the holes on their walls. My commissions will have to be put on hold for a little bit.  I frequently get asked how I come up with ideas for my pieces. For this painting I browsed through my “Santa FE” folder and just started picking images that excited me. The picture above will be the basis for my newest painting, I especially like the shutters and little tiled roof over the door.


We took this in Taos years ago. Aren’t those big, blue ceramic pots cool? The property was for sale, if we’d had more time I would have loved to look at it just to see the rest of their garden!


The Philodendron in the mix of flowers in this container will add a tropical look to my blue pot in the painting.


If you’ve followed my blog very long you know Geraniums are some of my favorites. And I really like LOTS of them in pots all lined up in a row!


So armed with these four pictures I grab my sketchbook, along with a Sharpie pen, and begin putting my ideas together on paper. When doing a piece that is not for a specific client the sketch is not quite as finished as one I’d make for a commission. This shows my thinking process, you may click on the image to enlarge it. I decided to make a corner with the door on one wall, the window on the other. Virginia Creeper or Sarza, as native New Mexicans call it, will cascade over the little tile roof. The light will pour into the courtyard from the upper right, I put a little sun there as a reminder. I was in such a hurry to get my ideas down that I got the perspective wrong on the window. But don’t worry, I’ll make the correction on the canvas. This piece is going to be 20 inches tall by 24 inches wide, painted around the edges on a gallery wrap canvas. We’ll begin work on the canvas in our next session. Hope to see you then. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG