Archive for June, 2011

Escape to the Isle of Capri

June 30, 2011

Wandering around the island of Capri is delightful, surprises appear around every turn. One of the most unexpected was finding Hollyhocks. I’m not sure why I was shocked, the island is rather arid, much like the cooler areas of the southwest, with cactus and agaves growing everywhere. The same conditions in which Hollyhocks thrive. I use a mix of Permanent Rose + Cadmium Red Light + White to make a rich coral for these happy flowers. The blossoms are blocked in first with a large bright brush, followed by the green foliage.

I reverse my usual sequence to paint the Day Lilies. The strap-like leaves are painted first, then I “Lay” the flower color over the foliage, wall and distant water.

My brush picks up some of the green paint from the leaves so I make sure to clean it between each stroke. This way the flowers don’t get muddy, but remain crisp and bright.

The last step is to add the dark in the deep centers of the Day Lilies. A small brush dipped in a mixture of Alizarin Crimson + Liquin is used.

Escape to the Isle of Capri    20″ x 24″    Original Oil Painting

As I was finishing this piece Jack walked by my easel and whispered in my ear, “Let’s Escape to the Isle of Capri!” I’m ready, how ’bout you? We hope some special collector will be captured by the same urge and just have to add this piece to their collection.

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Similar, Yet Different

June 28, 2011

Our gallery in Santa Fe sold A Forever View and asked for a similar piece, the same size, to replace it. We get this kind of request on a fairly regular basis, both by the galleries and from our collectors. Similar, yet different. This is a fun challenge. I’m keeping the high vantage point but making this piece horizontal, moving the location to the Isle of Capri, off the coast of Italy.

One of the coolest things about being an artist is I can move my setting across the Mediterranean from Eze to Capri with a minimum of fuss and effort. All I have to do is pull out our reference pictures. One of my favorite views of Capri is the southern coastline with three monolithic limestone sea stacks called the “Faraglioni” in the background.

The darkness of the old stone wall acts as a frame for the brilliance of the sunlit water beyond. At the top I’ve washed in the vine that drapes down with Magenta + Liquin. This will give me an idea of the flower color as the walls, door and floor are painted. If I decide the Magenta doesn’t work it will be dry and easy to change.

The blue-greens in the water are the complimentary color, or across the color wheel from the red of the door. There will also be plenty of green in the foliage of the plants close to the entrance, making the door POP! This is one of those helpful little rules in painting: To make a color appear more intense place it next to its compliment.

The color of the vine works well with the surrounding elements so I’ve blocked it in with opaque mixes of Magenta + White. Magenta is one of the few colors I can’t mix with our Double Primary Palette. We photographed the vine at a hotel just north of Los Angeles, California. I don’t have a clue what it’s called but we thought it was really pretty. The corner of a Bright Brush is used to make the details of the individual petals. The foliage is a warm green mixed with Ultramarine Blue + Hansa Lemon Yellow. I’ve enjoyed having you visit our studio today. Hope to see you again soon. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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Shimmering Sunflowers

June 26, 2011

First of all, our email service was out all weekend, our server had to do some major maintenance. In the process some emails were lost in cyberspace. If you emailed us June 25 or June 26 please resend your email. If you haven’t heard back it is not that we don’t care, you are very important to us. It’s most likely we just did not receive your email. Thank you for understanding.

Our galleries in Santa Fe and Taos love these “Suitcase” pieces. They are small enough collectors can stick them in their travel bag, taking home a memory of the Southwest. I’m very fortunate our collectors love them too. My subject is drawn up and I’ve begun to block in the shadows and the sunlit portions of the adobe wall.

Cadmium Red Deep + Alizarin Crimson is mixed for the shadow on the door. Pure Cadmium Red Light gives a nice warmth to the part of the door touched by the sun. I use MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin to draw the door handle, the highlights are White with a touch of Ultramarine Blue. The floor is complete and my Pthalo Blue pot is ready to be planted.

But first let’s let the Spanish Jasmine drape over the door. The shadows are painted with lavenders and blues, dark enough for the pure White highlights to show.

Dioxazine Purple + White is used for the Salvia filling the pot by the door. Various mixes of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + White are made for the foliage.

The Yellow blossoms of the Sunflowers are blocked in first, then the leaves are painted. I’ve used Ultramarine Blue + Hansa Lemon Yellow in varying proportions for the foliage. A few brushstrokes of Pthalo Blue  + White are made in the dark areas of the leaves. This adds coolness in the shadow. The finishing touch is to add the centers of the flowers with MUD + Liquin.

Shimmering Sunflowers   17″ x 14″   Original Oil Painting

You may have noticed I use the Red Door, White Spanish Jasmine, Salvia and Sunflower combination on a fairly regular basis. This is because our galleries and collectors always seem to request this mix of flowers and color. A wise artist, A.D. Greer, once told Jack, “If you don’t paint what people want, you won’t be painting very long for a living.” Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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Under the Amalfi Lemons

June 24, 2011

The water along the Amalfi coast is the most beautiful Azure. The most distant water was painted with a mix of Ultramarine Blue + MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + White. The color becomes brighter and more intense closer to the foreground. So moving forward I use mixtures of Ultramarine Blue + White and Ultramarine Blue + Pthalo Blue + White.  The water closest to the viewer is painted with Pthalo Blue + White + a tiny touch of Hansa Lemon Yellow. If you would like to find out more about our Double Primary Palette CLICK HERE.

The closest mountain provides a dark behind the focal point of the lemons and foliage. Mixes of Cadmium Yellow Medium + Cadmium Orange and Cadmium Yellow Medium are used for the famous fruit. Highlights are made of Cadmium Yellow Medium + Hansa Lemon Yellow. I “Lay” the paint on the canvas. Even though the wash of the leaves is dry this technique keeps my yellows crisp and clean. I then come back and add thick highlights on the foliage with mixes of Ultramarine Blue + Lemon Hansa Yellow + White.

The bright pinks and reds of the Petunias POP against the blue greens of the water. The blossoms are painted first, then the foliage.

Under the Amalfi Lemons    11″ x 14″     Original Oil Painting

The petunias and wall give a dark across the front that acts as a Threshold. The light on the water and waves behind the dark flowers adds depth to the piece. Driving along the Amalfi Coast you catch glimpses of the beaches far below, with rolling surf sparkling in the sun. After seeing several I asked our driver, “How do people get down to them?”  Jack quickly replied, “Get down to it?  That’s the easy part. I want to know how I’ll get back up!” So I guess we’ll just take a seat on the wall, reach up, grab a lemon and enjoy the sound of the pounding surf in the distance.

Thank you for visiting today. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

A Special Collaboration

June 23, 2011

We call the commissions I paint Collaborations. I take the ideas of our client and weave them with my own to make a painting they will enjoy for generations to come. Bonnie, a longtime collector, loves the Amalfi Coast and the wonderful lemons grown there. After going through the pictures we have of the area I contacted her and asked, “What about a view from the hillside, looking at the Amalfi Coast from under the Lemon Trees?” I heard a sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line. Then she replied, “WOW, I love it!”

Following my sketch the plan is drawn on the canvas with a brush dipped in a mixture of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. If you would like to see any of these pictures larger just click on the image.

The foliage of the Lemon Trees is washed in with a mix of Ultramarine Blue + Hansa Lemon Yellow + a lot of Liquin. Then the sky is painted around the leaves being careful not to let the light color get muddy. I’ve worked in this sequence because I want the luminosity of the wash over the white canvas for the leaves. This gives a feel of the sun back-lighting the foliage. The farthest mountain is painted bluer so it will fall back.

The top edge of the mountain and horizon line of the ocean are softened. Again, this helps to make them recede. The town of Amalfi is painted next using mixes of Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Orange + a lot of White. I use more blue in the mix so it will be cool. The roof tops use the same mix but with more orange and a touch of MUD which grays the color. Breakers crashing against the rocky point are made with a few strokes of a fine liner brush.

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Hope to see you tomorrow! Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

La Paloma

June 22, 2011

The lights and darks of the terra-cotta tile floor are blocked in with cooler tones toward the back. The warmer colors are placed closer to the front to help give depth to the painting. Perspective lines between the tiles are then drawn into the wet paint of the floor with the same brush used for the design on the wall plaque.

The Geraniums are painted in the same sequence as the Jasmine. Flowers first, foliage next. The bright green leaves are a mix of Pthalo Blue + Hansa Lemon Yellow. More Hansa Lemon Yellow is added for the highlights. A little White is then added to the mix for the flower buds.

A special color is used for the Asters under the window. We can mix most colors with our Double Primary Palette; however, there are a few I’m unable to duplicate. This is one of them, so out comes the tube of Magenta. Various combinations of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + White are used for the foliage.

La Paloma     20″ x 24″     Original Oil Painting

Sunflowers, bobbing in the gentle breeze, finish the cheerful entry garden. With our lives more crazy than ever people want to “feather their nests” with happiness and beauty. My goal for La Paloma is to bring a bit of peacefulness to someone’s home, giving a soothing touch to a hectic day. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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Fragrant Spanish Jasmine

June 21, 2011

The last several days have been pretty hectic around here but today I’m back at the easel and happily painting away. Santa Fe needs another piece so here goes on a cozy little corner with the fragrance of Spanish Jasmine in the air.

The painting is approached in the same manner as building a house. The structure of the adobe walls and tile roof is completed before the landscaping begins.

The door and window are painted with a mix of Pthalo Blue + White. Now I can let the Spanish Jasmine “grow” over the roof and door. The darks of the white flowers are blocked in with purples (MUD + White) and blues (Ultramarine Blue + White and Pthalo Blue + White). The dark foliage is then painted around the blossoms. Painting the Jasmine in this order keeps the blossom color crisp and clean. To learn more about our Double Primary Palette CLICK HERE.

The background of the tile is painted first with the light and shadow pattern. The design of the dove carrying an olive branch is drawn into the wet paint with a fine liner brush. I use a mixture of Alizarin Crimson + Liquin, bracing my arm on the mahl stick to steady my hand.

One of the secrets to painting white flowers is to make the shadows dark enough so the highlights are prominent. The blossoms catching the sunlight on the Spanish Jasmine above glow against the purple and blue shadows and dark green foliage. To see any of the images larger just click on the picture. Please feel free to visit our studio again and watch the progress of my paintings. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

And remember, if you would like to receive an email every time I publish a new post you may subscribe to my blog. Go to the upper right side of this page. You will see a heading EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS. Just enter your email address and click the button “Sign me up!”  It’s easy.

Who Let the Sheep Out?

June 19, 2011

Let’s grow some grass so those sweet little sheep will have something to munch on. Cooler greens are used in the distant grass. I took some of the color left over from the trees and added a bit of Hansa Lemon Yellow and White. A few strokes of Pthalo Blue + White are made to give additional coolness to the grass behind the sheep. The grass in the foreground is a mix of Ultramarine Blue + Hansa Lemon Yellow which makes a warmer green.

A mix of Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Yellow Medium is used for the foliage on the vines. The dangling clusters of grapes are fun to paint with a small Bright brush. The corner works perfectly to indicate the individual grapes.

Beverly and Hal have such a beautiful, organized vineyard with roses growing at the ends of the rows. Each row is labeled with the variety of grape growing. The name is painted into the wet name-plate with a fine liner brushed dipped in a mix of Alizarin Crimson + Liquin. The Rose blossoms are blocked in first with varying mixtures of Permanent Rose and Cadmium Red Light.  Then the foliage is painted.

The dark values of the sheep are painted with mixes of Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Orange + MUD. White is then added to the mixtures for the sunlit portions of their woolly bodies.

Who Let the Sheep Out?      16″ x 19″     Original Oil Painting

Beverly and Hal love sports and are fans of the Sacramento Kings basketball team. Anyone who attends sports events is familiar with a song played during the games, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”  So we just changed it a bit to work for Hal’s painting Who Let the Sheep Out? Beverly surprised Hal with a family dinner party at a local resturant. They hung the piece by their special table. Hal said, “I first noticed it hanging and thought why does the restaurant have such a painting because it reminded me of a Senkarik. DUH…..Then it dawned on me. Being quick is not helped by getting older!” What wonderful collectors. Beverly is a fellow gardener, when we she returned my phone call while working on ideas for the painting she said, “You caught me out in the Garden of Weedin.” I might just use that myself one of these days. Have a great one. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


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I’ve Never Painted These Before

June 18, 2011

Jack has a new article published on Fine Art Studio Online. To read What’s Up With eBay just CLICK HERE.

Remember a couple of weeks ago I mentioned I was working on a super secret commission? Well, here it is. This painting was a new experience. We received an email from a longtime collector and friend wanting to commission a surprise birthday present for her husband. Beverly and Hal have a vineyard that she wanted to incorporate in the painting. But the most unusual request was SHEEP! Hal collects them and Beverly asked, “is there anyway you could possibly work some sheep into the piece?” What a fun challenge since I’ve never painted them before. One thing I found interesting as I was researching is that a lot of vineyard owners use sheep to eat the weeds between the rows. So they worked right in for the surprise painting.

Here is my painting setup. An image of the vineyard is displayed on my laptop, while a bottle of  Beverly and Hal’s wine sits on my palette.

The basic layout is sketched on my canvas with a thin mixture of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. To learn more about our Double Primary Palette CLICK HERE.

The summer sky with fluffy clouds is painted first. The distant trees are then worked wet-into-wet over the sky. Cool blue greens are used for the trees so they will recede. The light color from the sky, picked up on my brush as the trees are blocked in, softens them even more. The grapevines are washed in with mixtures of Pthalo Blue + a lot of Liquin in the distance. Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Yellow Medium + a lot of Liquin is used in the closest vines. Hope you will come back tomorrow and follow along. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

And remember, if you would like to receive an email every time I publish a new post you may subscribe to my blog. Go to the upper right side of this page. You will see a heading EMAIL SUBSCRIPTIONS. Just enter your email address and click the button “Sign me up!”  It’s easy.

A Forever View

June 16, 2011

The approach to cobblestones is very similar to the way I paint a terra-cotta tile floor. The light and dark patterns are blocked in first with cool colors in the back, warmer tones in the foreground. Heavier brushstrokes are used to give the texture associated with cobbles. The perspective lines indicating the crevices between the stones are drawn into the wet paint with a medium Bright brush dipped in a mix of MUD + Liquin. The gentle curve helps direct the viewer’s gaze to Cap Ferrat in the distance.

The horizontal lines between the individual stones are now in place. While the floor is still wet I go ahead and sign the painting. It would be extremely difficult to add my signature if the paint was dry. Pulling a smooth line would be almost impossible. The shadows of the Petunias are blocked in, followed by the greens of the foliage.

The yellow-orange of the Nasturtiums glows against the red door. The warm green leaves are mixed from various combinations of Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Yellow Medium. A few strokes of Phtalo Blue + White, leftover from the water, are added to the foliage for coolness in the shadows.

A Forever View    24″ x 20″     Original Oil Painting

The shadow across the foreground acts as a dark threshold. The darkness allows the  sunlight to skip over the tips of the purple Salvia in the left foreground. The shaft of light bounces over the cobblestones and lands on the Petunias, Red Door and Nasturtiums. The viewer’s gaze is then pulled through the open arch to the sparkling Mediterranean beyond. A Forever View that can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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