Archive for November, 2010

Snow in Santa Fe, BRRRRR!

November 29, 2010

I’m starting a new snow painting for Santa Fe. Which is quite appropriate, it got down to 7 degrees on Thanksgiving night! BRRRRRRRR! The sketch with my notes is shown above. The numbers on the sketch are the digital image files for the reference I want to use.

When painting a courtyard scene covered in snow I still have to construct the buildings first. Then let the snow fall. Therefore I begin by establishing the ground lines for the basic architecture, planter and bench.

The sketch on canvas is complete, ready for me to start painting in the morning. This is going to be a fun piece. Especially since I’ll be in our nice, warm studio! Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

We are so Thankful

November 25, 2010

What a beautiful morning, God sent us a special Thanksgiving treat. As we walked down to sit in our swing a flock of snowy white Egrets settled on “Duck Island”. I went back up and grabbed the camera. We were afraid our movement would disturb them but they seemed to accept our presence.

I was able to slip down to the water’s edge to get a closer shot. That Slinky isn’t the only one in the family who can slink around! Just click on the picture to see an enlargement. Joining Jack in the swing, we drank in the wonder of the moment. Then Jack laughed, “There go the rest of our fish. They’ve come for Thanksgiving dinner.”

Back at the studio Slinky wanted to be part of the holiday too. He is so funny. He’ll sit on the window sill and paw at your fingers if you rattle them against the glass. But come out the door, he is gone. The closest he will come then is at feeding time. We can sit in our rockers about 5 feet away from him while he eats. But any attempt to get closer and he disappears!

With Thanksgiving on our hearts we want to say how much we appreciate all of you who read this blog. We feel so fortunate to be with each other, live in this great country and have such wonderful collectors and friends. You allow us to make a living doing what we love. Thank you. Or, as we say in Texas, Much Obliged. Happy Thanksgiving. Mikki and Jack

It’s No Secret

November 24, 2010

I just finished one of my Surprise Christmas Commissions and am ready to start on a piece that’s not Top Secret. This is for a very special collector who has followed my career since I was painting horses. After we visited about her various desires I emailed the sketch above.

Kenna said she loved what I had done but asked if I could make a few changes. I said “Absolutely”. She told me a wonderful memory of staying with her grandmother when she was a young girl. She was allowed to pick her choice from her grandmother’s luscious flower beds to make a personal bouquet to decorate the room she stayed in. Kenna loves Zinnias and sent a picture of her sister in front of one of the colorful beds from her grandmother’s home. So we just pulled out the Salvia and added Zinnias. Because the Zinnias are oranges and pinks I changed the orange California Poppies to red Geraniums and the flowers in the pot on the window sill to Lavender. Then Kenna went back through all of my blogs and decided she liked the red window in “A Blaze of Color”, the floor in “Golden Adobe” and the rock wall like our home! She also requested I make all of the terra-cotta flower pots round.

The basic elements are sketched on the canvas with a thin mixture of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. I label the flowers so I won’t forget the changes we made. Now we’re ready to start painting. Please come back to watch. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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An Evening in the Sky

November 22, 2010

Last week Grant Teaff called, inviting us to come watch the Baylor Bears play the Oklahoma Sooners in Waco. Grant and Donell are very dear friends and collectors of our paintings. Jack has known them since 1972, the year Grant was hired to be the head football coach at Baylor. Grant wanted a new, proud image for the Bears. He contacted Jack, challenging him with the task. The finished piece is above, can you believe it’s 38 years old? Grant and Jack are on the left. Damon, Jack’s son, and I are on the right.

Grant was the Bears head coach for 20 years, compiling a winning record and directing the team to two Southwest Conference championships. He is now Executive Director for the American Football Coaches Association. After visiting a while we went to the stadium to watch the game from their skybox. Damon and Jack are with Donell in the picture above.

The view is wonderful as you can see. This was during pregame warmup, by game time the stands were filled.

The Baylor band put on an outstanding show.

Bill Lane, coach of defensive ends in 1974 and a member of the Baylor staff from 1972-1992, is cutting up with Jack and Damon in the picture above. We were very disappointed the Bears lost but we had a super time visiting with old friends and meeting new ones. We are back in the studio today. I’m finishing up a surprise commission so I should be able to post a painting for you to watch in the next few days. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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My Christmas Present Arrived Early!

November 17, 2010

The weather has just been so gorgeous we had to sit in our swing a while and enjoy the beauty of our little lake. The Least Grebes were cavorting in the warmth of the sun.

Turtles were sunning themselves as well, ready to “Plunk” into the water if we decided to venture near the edge of the pond.

Harry the Heron is steadily working on depleting the fish population that we stocked. Just remember Harry, we’re keeping track of all the stocked fish you eat and putting it on your tab!

And…. I know you’ve been wondering what I got for Christmas. Look closely, it’s hard to spot in the picture above. It may take you a moment to see. Look again. I’ll give you a hint, the black stuff. Behind the arbor. See it now? I’m thrilled, it’s just what every Texas gardening girl wants. Six yards of Living Mulch! That Jack is such a Sweetie, don’t you think?

I’m still working on commissions for surprise Christmas Gifts. Hopefully in a few days I’ll be working on a piece I can post. Thank you for your patience and remember, if you’d like to be on our mailing list please click on the box below. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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What’s up at the WHITE HOUSE?

November 13, 2010

I’m working on a few more of those “TOP SECRET” Christmas commissions so I’ll just fill you in on what’s up at the White House. (For those of you who don’t know I paint under my maiden name, Senkarik.) It has been a while since the fountain in our front patio has been working. We thought the pump had gone out so off to Home Depot we went. Put it in but still no bubbling or splashing. ERRRRRRR! So we figured the outdoor electrical outlet must have gone bad. Now that is WAAYYY out of our league. We hated to call an electrician for such a minor repair so we just put up with no welcoming fountain. Then yesterday, out of the blue, Jack said, “Flip it!”

I whipped around, looked at him and said, “WHAT?”

“The breaker, flip it!”

You know what? That man is a genius. Our fountain is happily bubbling away.

Now that we’ve got it working we decided to give it an update. We saw the coolest Caribbean Blue Tumbled Glass at our favorite nursery, Cooper’s Garden Place. We thought it would be perfect in the fountain. What do you think? It is really pretty when we look out the window of our office, so cool and inviting. Miss Mockingbird, our permanent resident, has been hopping around checking the blue glass out. She likes to stand on top of the fountain and peer in the window. I guess she wants to make sure we are working!

We had some of the glass left over so we decided to dress up one of our cactus pots. The tall cactus was given to us by one of our blog readers who shares our love of cactus. It’s a night bloomer and has the most beautiful white flowers. Next time it blooms I’ll be sure to let you see.

After all that hard work it was time for a little snack. Guess who came slinking around the corner to join us? If you would like to be on our mailing list just click on the box below. Have a great day. Hugs from Texas, Mikki Senkarik

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Making Changes

November 10, 2010

Does this piece look vaguely familiar to you? Do you feel as if you’ve seen it somewhere before? Well, look at my last blog. This is the piece the collectors of the previous commission saw, fell in love with and wanted me to paint. Just horizontal, not vertical. With Wisteria, they definitely wanted Wisteria.

Another couple also loved this painting. Everything but the Trumpet Vine. They lamented, “If only it had Wisteria draped over the doorway.” I thought to myself, “HMMMM, they may be on to something here.” Then I replied, “No problem. I can change that. It’s really a very simple process.”

The first step is to scrape off the Trumpet Vine. I place my hand flat against the back of the canvas in the area where I’m going to scrape.

Then, holding a single edge razor blade as shown above I carefully scrape off the thick texture of the orange flowers. I work the blade in a back and forth motion over the surface of the canvas. My hand placed flat on the back pushes against the canvas in the location I’m scraping. This is the trickiest part of the procedure. I don’t want to get too rambunctious with the razor blade and cut through the canvas. Now that would be a problem!

Let’s start the Wisteria. I just paint over the now smooth surface, covering the orange.

The Trumpet Vine is morphing into Wisteria! I let some of the greens from the previous foliage show through, adding to the dimension.

Invitation to Meander     36″ x 30″     Original Oil Painting

The change over is complete. It’s amazing how smart my collectors are. This is a much better painting with Wisteria over the door. The color is more muted than the Trumpet Vine, allowing the viewer’s gaze to go to the fountain and the sunlit scene beyond. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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Southwest Enchantment

November 8, 2010

As with the garlic ropes I mix several shades of aqua, blue and lavender. The garlic ropes are in shadow so the colors were grayed a little with a touch of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson). Because the Matilija Poppies will be washed in sunlight I want these mixes to be more pure. So I just add white to the base colors: Ultramarine Blue, Dioxazine Purple and Phtalo Blue.

Using the corner of a large, Flat brush I block in the blossoms of the white Matilija Poppies.

Next, the dusty gray-green foliage is painted around the flower shapes. Remember, you can see an enlargement of any of these images by just clicking on the photo.

Now I go back in and add the bright white highlights to the Matilija Poppies catching the sun. The last step will be to paint the yellow centers.

Southwest Enchantment     38″ x 48″     Original Oil Painting

Notice how the white of the Matilija Poppies is brighter than the white water trickling in the fountain. This is because I added just the tiniest touch of Hansa Lemon Yellow to the White used for the Poppy highlights. This made the mixture a little bit warmer than the cool white highlights of the water, making the flowers appear brighter and causing them to come forward. After letting it dry for a few days we’ll ship the piece to its new home in Albuquerque where it will add some Southwest Enchantment to the wall. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


Icing on the Cake

November 7, 2010

On to my favorite, gardening. The reds and greens for the Geraniums are mixed and laid out on the palette above. The colors lined up to the left are various mixtures remaining from the rest of the piece. I keep little dabs in case I need to go back to do any touch up or add a “color surprise” here and there. I begin the Geraniums by blocking in the various reds of the blossoms as seen in the flower-pot by the door. In the pots on the window sill the greens of the leaves are painted around the flowers. This method of blocking in the blossoms first allows the flower color to remain bright and crisp.

Moving to the Maximilian’s Sunflowers and California Poppies I employ the same technique. Flowers first, foliage second. Notice in the Geranium leaves I’ve used some of the leftover window color, one of those “color surprises” I mentioned. This adds depth to the foliage and makes it harmonious with the rest of the piece.

Now for the leaves of the Maximilian’s Sunflowers. A mixture of Ultramarine Blue + Hansa Lemon Yellow makes a warm green.

The California Poppies have a more blue-green foliage, therefore I use a mixture of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + a little Cadmium Yellow Medium. White is added for the leaves in the sunlight. Above I’m adding the centers of the flowers and highlights.

Like the icing on a cake, the flowers add the finishing touch to the painting. Tomorrow I’ll put the final flourish on the piece, the white Matilija Poppies. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


Painting Tile

November 6, 2010

Let’s turn our attention to the floor. We decided to change the tile floor to a brick red rather than my usual terra-cotta color. This will be more muted, making the bright flowers really pop. I begin with the distant patio, painting in the light and dark shadows. This area has a touch more blue in the mixture in order to make it drop back.

Moving forward, the middle and foreground floors are painted in the same manner. I use a basic mix of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + a little more Alizarin Crimson + a touch of Cadmium Red Light + White. At the back of each of these floors a bit of blue is added to make the far edge recede.

Painting is an exercise in mind twisting. Artists work on a two dimensional surface, the canvas, attempting to make it appear as if it has three dimensions. There are several methods to accomplish this. One is making distant objects more blue, as with the most distant mountains, the far patio and the back edges of the closer patios. Another is perspective lines like the ones drawn on the tile floor above. These lead the viewer’s eye into the landscape beyond the arch, giving depth.

Even the perspective of the rock wall adds to the dimensionality of the piece. Also the rocks are a little bluer as they go back. There is another technique to give depth to a painting. Notice how the front of the painting is in shadow. This is called the Threshold. Think of an open door to a well lighted home at night. Your eye is immediately drawn to the light inside. In a painting this works in a similar fashion. The sunlight hitting the tile floor, golden adobe building and the scene through the archway draws your eye, across the Threshold, into the distance. To use one of Jack’s favorite sayings, “That’s your little lesson for today.” Hugs, Mikki Senkarik