Archive for February, 2011

Pushing and Pulling

February 10, 2011

The building in the right foreground is the focus of today’s session. The lavender and blue colors remaining from the building on the left will be used in the shadows. For the sunlit areas of the wall I’ve made a mix of White + a tiny bit of Cadmium Orange + a touch of Ultramarine Blue. For the lightest white I use White + an almost imperceptible amount of Cadmium Orange. This makes a nice, sun-warmed white. The blue for the door and windows is Pthalo Blue + a little Hansa Lemon Yellow. The shadows on the wall are painted first, then the light areas. The shadow cast by the chair was a challenge. I had to paint it over a few times but I’m pleased with how it turned out.

The cascading vine is completed at this point. I use a fine liner brush to draw the streaming tendrils into the wet paint of the building. The highlights are added to the blossoms with Cadmium Orange + a little Cadmium Yellow Medium. After scrutinizing the piece in my mirror I realize I didn’t follow my perspective lines accurately as I painted the base lines of the windows and wall. I paint with a large mirror, mounted on a movable easel, behind me. This allows me to critique the piece as I’m painting. Looking at the reversed image in the mirror takes it from the inventive or creative side of the brain to the analytical side. It’s amazing how you can see problems in the reversed image that you don’t see on the actual painting. It’s like critiquing someone else’s work. Analyzing your painting in a mirror is one of the most important things an artist can do.

This is where the “Pushing and Pulling” comes in. Painting is problem solving so here goes on the adjustments. I “lift” the front edge of the bottom of the wall and “lower” the back part of the blue underneath the far window. I also decided to add a little curve to the double line of cobblestones in the middle of the street, making it less severe and much more pleasing to the eye. Compare the changes in the image above to the previous one. See the difference? Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

Let’s Plant Some Flowers

February 9, 2011

It may be COLD outside but it’s spring in the studio. So let’s get to planting, the containers by the door are ready. To make the color for the terra-cotta pots I added some Cadmium Red Light + MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) to the floor mix.

I begin by blocking in the geranium flowers with mixes of Cadmium Red Deep + Alizarin Crimson and Cadmium Red Deep + a tiny touch of White.

After painting the leaves of the geraniums I come back in with a fine liner brush to add flower buds. Strokes of Pthalo Blue + White interspersed throughout the greenery add depth to the foliage.

My colors are mixed for the sunflowers. The base for the flowers is Cadmium Yellow Medium. A bit of Cadmium Orange + MUD is added for the darker shadows. Lemon Hansa Yellow is added for the lighter highlights. The greens are various mixes of Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Yellow Medium.

Moving back to the canvas the yellows are painted first, followed by the greens for the leaves. I throw in a few brushstrokes of the Pthalo Blue + White used in the Geraniums.

To add a little zing to the Sunflowers I use some of the Tulip color (on the lower left of the palette picture above) for a few of the petals.

Dark centers finish the Sunflowers bobbing their heads in the breeze. The last little detail is to add a few petals that have dropped to the cobblestones. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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February 8, 2011

Finishing out the door and windows I use mixtures of Ultramarine Blue + White. The photo I’m using for reference had one of the double doors open. I really like the invitation issued to step inside the little cafe. In the image on the right I’ve blocked in the Bougainvillea and am now working the greenery around the bright pink blossoms. One very observant reader asked why I’ve started wearing gloves. It’s simple, my hands get really dry in the winter no matter how much lotion I use. I’ve got one of those pesky splits at the corner of my thumbnail where it’s hard to bandage. So that’s why the glove.

Now for the Cobblestones. I take some of my paint leftover from the stone floor in the background and add Cadmium Orange. This warms it for use in the foreground cobbles.

Working from the back to the front I block in the darks. Cooler and lighter in the distance, warmer and darker as they come closer to the foreground. I add in a few strokes of the leftover mountain paint which brings some color surprises and variety to the stones.

The sunlit area of the street is now painted. I’ve exaggerated the warmth of the cobbles to contrast with the cool shadows of the white buildings. The street I’m using for reference has a double row of cobbles running down the center of the street. I use a mix of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin to draw them in.

I don’t outline each individual cobblestone but rather indicate them impressionistically. This keeps them from becoming too prominent. I want the stones to be there but not shout out for attention. Less and less detail is used as the street recedes. It’s amazing how getting the cobblestones in begins to pull the painting together. Have a great evening. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


White on White

February 7, 2011

First of all, Green Bay won the Super Bowl. Yeah! Of course we would have rather seen our Cowboys in the big game but it just was not in the “stars” for this year. But enough football, it’s back to work this morning. One of the things I really like about collaborating with my collectors on special paintings is I’m forced into Uncharted Territories. The building in the left foreground is a challenge to paint. The actual building is white with a heavy mortar pattern. It was in full sun in the photo I’m using for reference. Because the light is coming into the piece from the left, highlighting the Library of Cestus, this building is in shadow. I use several shades of lavenders and blues to block in the building. With a large brush I go back in and indicate the irregular mortar. I’ve never rendered a building with this kind of texture, painting the white on white is a fun test in values. I can’t get too dark or the building won’t look white, yet it needs to be dark enough to appear to be in shadow. Getting the rest of the canvas covered will make a big difference.

Painting the small tile roof above the door is also a new experience. Normally I would paint terra-cotta tiles but the Turkish ones are white. I’ll probably make a few adjustments to them after I paint the Bougainvillea  in the foreground. Now for the sign over the door. I use a Mahl Stick to steady my hand while drawing the letters into the wet paint with a thin mixture of Alizarin Crimson + Liquin. I draw the letters very lightly at first to make certain I have the spacing correct. Then I go back and finish the individual nuances of the characters.

When doing the sketch for this piece I didn’t have a clue what I would plant in the flower boxes. My client and I discussed what would go there. I told him that sometimes the paint tells me what to do, I would just have to wait until I started working. As soon as I finished the blue shutters and flower boxes I knew Magenta Petunias were perfect to fill the containers! Thanks for visiting today. Come back soon. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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Ready for Some Football!

February 6, 2011

Whew! The Library of Cestus and columns are finished. On the left side of the boulevard you can now see how the warm columns jump in front of the cooler ruins behind them.

My extra paint is saved on the left side of my palette. I’ve taken some of my mixtures from the architectural ruins and added Ultramarine Blue. This makes several cool grays for the stone floor immediately in front of the Library.

I’m sorta in a quandary today. We have company coming to watch the Super Bowl so I can’t paint as long as I’d like to. Originally I had planned to paint the entire paved area but I just don’t have the time. So I get the distant stone floor covered, paint the shadows cast by the columns and then direct my attention to the vase on the table. Tulips are the national flower of Turkey, we decided they would be fun to include. I want to get those blocked in while the paint around them is still wet and pliable. I “Lay” the paint on the canvas with a large brush so I don’t pull up the color underneath, which would muddy the flowers.

The cool grays of the street accentuate the bright tulips. Taking artistic license I decided to remove the rubble in front of the distant steps because it distracted from the flowers in the vase.

It’s time to get ready for company and the Super Bowl. GO PACKERS! See you tomorrow. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

Snow, Ducks and Ancient Ruins

February 5, 2011

We had SNOW last night! I know those of you who live in the Frozen Tundra are falling out of your computer chairs laughing. (Can you guess who we are for in the Super Bowl?) Now just wait before you say, “That is the most pathetic excuse for snow you have ever seen!” We hardy ever have snow in this part of Texas so even a tiny bit is a pretty big event for us. Our temperature has been below freezing for several days so all of our plants are  tucked in! We’ll see what survives when it warms up.

Just had to share a little more of our snow covered backyard. One thing for sure. Slinky, our little wild kitty didn’t like it. We didn’t see hide nor hair of him until it melted. Snuggled under the freeze cloths covering the plants he wouldn’t even venture out for breakfast. He is definitely a southern kitty!

We have ducks galore enjoying Senkarik Pond. Northern Shovelers and American Wigeons make up the majority of our migratory duck population. There are probably about 100 in all. To see the image larger just click on the picture.

Now, from Ducks to Turkey (smile). I’ve got the paint ready for the Library of Cestus. Several variations of Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Orange are mixed. MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) is added for the darker values, White for the lighter ones.

The image above shows an example of one of the most basic rules in painting: Warm colors come forward, Cool colors recede. The ocher, sunburned grass covering the closest hillside has a warmth that comes forward of the cooler mountain in the distance. The jumble of ruins are blocked in with the cooler (bluer) mixes on my palette so they will fall behind the warmer, upright columns lining the left side of the wide boulevard. On the Library I use the largest brush possible and my cooler hues to cover the ancient walls.

The basic values of the upright building are now blocked in and I’ve started indicating the rock work. But not extremely detailed because I want the Library to fall into the distance. Too much detail would make it jump forward. This is another method to give the impression of distance in a painting. Objects in the distance are softer and less detailed. As elements come closer to the foreground they have harder edges and more detail.

Here I’ve applied the Warm/Cool rule again. The columns and protruding porticos are painted warmer than the wall behind them. This makes them visually come forward. It’s slow going but I’m pleased with how this stage of the painting is progressing. Thank you for visiting the studio today. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


Blue Sky

February 4, 2011

My client said the skies were incredibly blue, without a cloud, the whole time they were in Turkey. So I’ve got Pthalo Blue + White and two different shades of Ultramarine Blue + White laid out on my palette ready to paint that beautiful sky.

I use the Pthalo Blue + White mixture for the sky nearest the horizon where it is lighter and greener. Moving upward the lighter of the two Ultramarine Blue + White mixes is used. The darkest of the two is reserved to paint the top as the dome of the sky arches overhead. The mountain is painted with cool blue-greens so it will recede.

Before the sky gets too dry I paint the Bougainvillea and Trumpet Vine. It is much easier to paint all the fine stems, tiny tendrils, blossoms and leaves wet into wet. The image projected into the rear screen above was taken in Myrtle Beach and is one of my favorite Bougainvilleas to use for reference. On the left I’m blocking in the blossoms of the Trumpet Vine. I will paint the foliage next. By painting flowers first, then the leaves, the color of the blossoms remains bright and clean. If I painted the greenery first, then the flowers, the blossom color would pick up the green and become muddy.

The portions of the colorful vines extending into the blue sky are done. Tomorrow I’ll begin painting the ruins of the Library of Cestus. Come join in the fun. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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Good Bones

February 3, 2011

You sometimes hear people talk about a house or garden with a strong structural foundation as having “Good Bones”. The same applies in painting. The initial sketch on the canvas acts as the skeleton or “Bones” of the piece. If it is not correct, there is a lot of pain incurred as the painting progresses, trying to make corrections. Believe me, I’ve fought through that pain when I rushed the beginning sketch. Using a thin wash of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin I’ve started with the placement of the key element in the foreground, the outdoor cafe.

After getting the perspective of the tables, chairs, wine bottle and glasses worked out I move my focus to the building on the left. Once the doors and windows are drawn I wash in the dark areas with two glaze mixtures. MUD + Liquin and Ultramarine Blue + Liquin. I want these areas to retain some translucency as shown in the image on the right. When the windows and door are painted over the darkened area it will appear as if there is something in the room through the glass. On the right side of the door you can see I had to move the base of the flowerpot. The container was blocking the entry where I first placed it.

The building on the left is now complete. Even though I could use the computer to view my reference material I prefer to use actual photos for a piece as complicated as this. Maybe I’m just old-fashioned but it’s easier for me. I can study several photos at one time to combine elements.

To draw the complex architecture of the Library of Cestus I first print a picture on regular paper. Using  a red Sharpie pen I make a grid starting with a box around the structure; Top, Bottom and Sides. Diagonals are then drawn from corner to corner, establishing the center point of the ruins. A fine red Sharpie is used to make upright lines at the left side of each column.

A corresponding grid is penciled on the canvas. Using the reference points from the photo I sketch the Library in the background.

The initial sketch is done, ready for paint tomorrow. If you would like to see any of these pictures larger just click on the image. Presto! It will magically enlarge. Have a great day. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

PS. Just a little reminder. The eBay auction on my special Valentine’s Day painting, Touched by Romance, ends Saturday at 8 PM in Texas. That’s 9 PM on the east coast, 6 PM on the west coast.  Click here to go to the eBay auction.

The Sketch

February 1, 2011

So here’s “the sketch”. We moved the seaside village of Alacati about 95 miles to Ephesus with the stroke of a pen. That’s the fun of being an artist, we can combine places and elements that just don’t exist in reality. The toughest challenge is to make them appear real!

After studying the drawing my collector decided he would like more of the ruins showing in the distance. He especially liked these ancient columns leading to the Library of Cestus.

So back to the drawing board. I rendered another sketch with the columns added. I like this much better as did my client. The shadows the columns cast will be fun to paint. I’m looking forward to starting the painting. But I won’t be able to work tomorrow. We have our annual eye exam and once my eyes are dilated, I’m completely worthless! I hide in our darkest room wearing two pair of dark sunglasses. So I’ll see you on Thursday. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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