Archive for January, 2010

STEP 19 Back to Basics

January 31, 2010


This is one of the most basic rules of painting and the principle for all of my work today, painting the foreground arches. I’m up on the ladder again, hopefully for the last time. The final highlights will go on the bougainvillea, then on to the tops of the arches. About halfway down the arches I’ll be at a comfortable reaching point, then the ladder can go back out to the garage where it belongs!

Above are the completed arches. The ones farthest back are bluer (cooler). As they come forward the base color has more orange and yellow in the mixture (warmer). This is even true on the shadow under the eave of the roof, it gets more blue as it goes back. In the opening of the front arch you can see the wall behind. I’ve also made this area bluer so it appears to drop in back of the arch in front of it. I’ve also softened the edge of the shadow where the light hits the back wall, this is another way to make things look more distant. HARD EDGES MOVE FORWARD, SOFT EDGES GO BACK. Just another little lesson for today!

Have a great evening and I hope to see you tomorrow. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik



STEP 18 More Study Hall

January 30, 2010

It’s back to Study Hall today. I want to test my color combinations for the foreground arches, terrace and flowers before I actually paint them on the large canvas.

But let me get off the subject for just a moment. Someone asked me about the container for my Odorless Paint Thinner. It’s a plastic, one gallon water bottle we’ve cut the top off, leaving the handle. After several days of use a lot of paint residue accumulates in the bottom of the container. After sitting overnight we can pour off the clean thinner, leaving the yuck to be disposed of. Our garbage bags are held up by an aluminum walker. You can see the top of the walker in the picture above. Jack used this when he had cancer, which rendered his legs useless. Fortunately today he is cancer free with complete use of his legs. But we are still using his walker. We get 55 gallon drum liners from Home Depot for our garbage bags.

Back to the painting. Here is the finished study. I decided to rearrange the flowers on the terrace from my initial idea. Instead of putting the magenta and purple petunias in the foreground I moved them to the back of the terrace. Then planted the more brilliant geraniums in the front pots. The cooler hues of the petunias make them drop back, while the warmer cadmium reds of the geraniums move forward.

Below you can see the finished study in front of the big canvas. This placement allows me to judge the color combinations in the study to the completed sections of the larger painting. Tomorrow I will return to the big piece.

Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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STEP 17 Warmth and Intensity

January 29, 2010

This stage of the painting is fun because as the foreground buildings start to go in, the background begins to drop into the distance. The color of the tower villa is warmer and more intense than the buildings along the harbor, therefore it jumps forward.

The rich hue of the Bougainvillea tumbling down the rock wall adds to the depth. As I paint I like to use the largest brush possible to put in broad areas of color. Then switch to a smaller brush as needed to paint the finer detail. I paint with thick brushstrokes and lay the paint on the canvas, giving a texture much like a palette knife.

Thank you for visiting my studio, I appreciate your interest in my work. For more information see . If you have any questions please feel free to ask. You may email Jack and me at .

Have a great day, Mikki Senkarik

STEP 16 Mixed up

January 28, 2010

Today work starts on the tower.  The study is set up to my right as reference, along with a couple of photos. Before beginning to paint I mix a good quantity of the colors to be used. Notice I’m mixing left-handed, even though I am naturally right-handed. A good friend of ours, who is a top orthopaedic surgeon suggested the use of the left hand to mix so over the years there would be less strain on the right.

The second picture shows a closeup of the palette. The paints across the top are my base colors. The two rows on the left side are colors I have premixed, the greens are left over from the palm trees. In the center are the mixtures for the tower. This gives me enough paint so the entire building is consistent. I don’t have to worry about running out of paint in the middle of the building and then having to mix and match more.

So, it’s back up on the ladder to paint the tower. Please come back and visit tomorrow. See you then. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik.

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STEP 15 Quick Growing Palms

January 27, 2010

Today’s plan is to paint the hill directly below the terrace of the foreground villa. The Portofino peninsula is covered with Eucalyptus, Pines, Italian Cypress, Umbrella Trees and Palms.  As I mentioned in STEP 13, the trees on the hillside make a dark mass, the light shines in behind them to glow on the buildings below. This is one method which can be used to give the feeling of depth in a painting.

While I was painting this afternoon Jack was on the computer writing his monthly article for Art Calendar Magazine. The studio was quiet except for the clacking of the keys on his computer. Deep in concentration I almost jumped through the ceiling when his deep voice shattered the silence, “Wow, those are the fastest growing palms I’ve ever seen!”  We laughed, wishing our landscaping would magically grow as quickly.

Now that I’m beginning to get some darks in the foreground the background is starting to drop into the distance. Next I will begin to work on the villa and tower.

Have a great day, Mikki Senkarik

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STEP 14 Color Study

January 26, 2010

Sometimes when working on a big painting I will do a small study to make sure the colors I have in mind will actually work. In my reference photo the villa with the tower is made of white rock. I want to make it darker to contrast with the arches in the left foreground which are going to be lighter. In the image  above I’m sketching the villa on a small canvas. Jack came up with this cool setup so I can paint my study right over the large canvas to get a true feel of how the colors I’ve selected will work.

Here you can see the setup. Jack took two strips of cardboard 4 feet long and glued them together. One end of the long piece rests against the top edge of the large canvas. The other end is taped to my palette, making an angle so the portable easel doesn’t touch the wet painting underneath. The small canvas sits on a shelf made of 4 narrow strips of cardboard taped together. Pretty Nifty!

The study is finished and I’m pleased with the color combination. So tomorrow I’ll be back working on the large canvas. Please visit as often as you like. You also might enjoy my website . If you have any questions feel free to ask. Just send a comment in the section below. Or you may email us at .

Hugs and Smiles, Mikki Senkarik


January 25, 2010

The buildings are finally done. Wow, there are certainly a lot of windows in Portofino. And it looks as if they all have a great view. It was fun painting the overhanging awnings and the people strolling along the harbor, enjoying the beautiful day. After I get the canvas completely covered I will probably go back and add a few finishing touches on the buildings, boats and water. The large white areas on the canvas make it hard to accurately judge the final values at this stage.

Here I have started blocking in the trees directly below the foreground terrace. One of the key rules in painting is you can’t have light without dark. The light will pour in behind the dark mass of these trees to light up the harbor.

I must say, this is one of my all time favorite shirts. Jack has one just like it, we got them on our first trip to Hawaii almost 20 years ago. They are made by JAMS in Hawaii and we call them our “Van Gogh Shirts.”  I was wearing this shirt when Jack threatened to throw me off the cliffs of Maui if I didn’t agree to spend the rest of my life with him! What does this have to do with painting? Absolutely nothing, just thought you’d like to know.

See you tomorrow, Mikki Senkarik

P.S. You can read more of our story at

STEP 12 Colorful Buildings

January 24, 2010

The buildings of the Portofino Harbor are taking shape. In the photo above I am working on the San Martino Church, which was built in the 12th century. One of the biggest surprises to Jack and I about Portofino was the rooftops. We expected them to be made of the rust and sienna terra-cotta tiles we had seen throughout Tuscany. However they were lighter colored, most likely made of slate. Occasionally there would be a terra-cotta tile roof but it was the exception rather than the rule.

The buildings are completely blocked in. Now I’m ready to start with the details of awnings, verandas, windows and doors.

Please feel welcome to visit my website: Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

STEP 11 Portofino Harbor

January 23, 2010

The test today is to make the buildings of Portofino colorful yet still muted so they remain in the middle distance. When the painting is finished I don’t want them to be so bright they visually jump to the foreground. I’ll admit I’ve been apprehensive about this part of the painting. But once I got started it has really been enjoyable. You can see the use of the mahl stick again. This steadies my hand and takes the strain off my shoulder. The photo on the laptop gives color reference for the buildings.

This stage is a bit slower. I’ve gotten this far today blocking in buildings. Much time was spent mixing the various colors. Tomorrow’s plan is to get the rest of the buildings built and then start adding windows, doors and architectural details.

See you soon. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

STEP 10 Boats, Boats and more Boats

January 22, 2010

A really nice thing happened today. It began last night when Jack and I received a call asking if we would be in the studio today. “Of course,” we said. “We’ll be here painting.”

Two of our favorite collectors came to see the big painting and then took us to lunch. We had a super fun time and it was a nice little break from painting BOATS!  Portofino’s Harbor is filled with dinghies, skiffs, sailboats and yachts. They are a challenge to paint. Since they are in the distance I don’t want them to be too detailed, but I have to have enough so they will look like boats.

Also notice the distant water is a duller blue. As it comes forward the color becomes more intense. Representational artists paint on a canvas, which is two dimensional, trying to make it appear three dimensional. There are methods to make this work. One is using warm and cool colors. Cool colors, Blues, recede. Warm colors, Reds and Yellows, come forward. The second method is to make colors duller in the distance and more intense as they come closer. I’ve used both of these techniques in the water.

The boats are blocked in, I will go back later and work on them a bit more. I’m getting the hill behind the village covered. You can see I have also used the warm/cool, dull/intense rules on the mountains. Tomorrow I will begin on the colorful buildings lining the harbor.

Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Mikki