Archive for May, 2012

What are the chances?

May 30, 2012

We love Daylilies. When we first moved here Jack and I devoted one bed at the end of our driveway just to Daylilies. We planted a huge variety of colors: white, pink, yellow, orange, red and multihued. We could see them every time we drove in or out of our property. The first spring they bloomed beautifully, fortunately we took lots of pictures.

We quickly found out Daylilies have a well-earned nickname, Deer Candy! Our beautiful blooms disappeared almost overnight. Then the foliage was gone. So the next year we tried everything; sprays, repellents and finally deer netting. Those pesky little deer would push the netting against the flowers and gobble the blossoms. We finally gave up last year. In our little town there is an Alternative School for kids with problems that has a wonderful gardening program. We donate cuttings and plants we’ve divided to Johnny, the director. After the last time the deer ate all the blossoms I dug up the plants to take to the school. We seeded the bed with Zinnias and Laura Bush Petunias, both relatively deer proof. As I was putting all of the Daylilies in the truck Jack asked, “What about planting a few in pots close to the house. I know you love Daylilies so much, maybe the deer would leave them alone on the back porch.”

I thought that was a great idea so I pulled some out of the bag. I didn’t have a clue what colors they were but figured as many as we had there would be a variety and planted them in three pots.

Two of our potted Daylilies burst out in bloom last week. Can you believe they are ALL red with yellow centers. Now, what are the chances of that? I couldn’t have done that if I had tried. We are hoping the third pot has a different color!

Many of you followed my blog on the wedding commission, Memories of Venice. Several made wonderful comments that I appreciate greatly. The painting was shipped on Tuesday and we received this email today. Just had to share it with you, we thought you would enjoy Laura’s reaction to the painting.

Hi Mikki! I can’t tell you enough how absolutely gorgeous “Memories of Venice” is. AND I haven’t even seen it in person yet, which I know will be even more beautiful, if that’s possible! I had been trying not to look at the painting on the blog since the original post with the sketch because I wanted to be surprised…but when I got the tracking information I couldn’t stand it anymore! My mouth just dropped to the floor and stayed there. It truly is so beautiful!! I can’t believe I will get to look at it EVERY DAY!!!! You flawlessly captured the whole spirit of the city. And so many memories right there! The richness of the colors, the color palette itself, the grace with which you captured the architecture and sparkling lights – on the water, in the cafe, in the hotel, reflecting on the water, the romance of the lampposts, every detail is so perfect and SO VENICE. I could go on and on… Now that I’ve seen it, it’s so cool to see the process from start to finish looking through your past posts. I love how you called it your Dessert painting! I can’t thank you enough for creating such a wonderful piece for us. Laura

AND…….Last but not least, Jack’s latest article is out on Just CLICK HERE to read “Flying with Eagles.” Have a great day. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

Classic Red

May 25, 2012

Many of my eBay collectors have asked me to paint one of my classic red doors in an ACEO format. I’m fairly well trained, so here you are: Classic Red. A happy red door cradled by Trumpet Vine, Sunflowers and Pink Hollyhocks. I begin by doing a simple sketch of the basic layout with a #1 Filbert brush dipped in a wash of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + a liberal amount of Liquin. Just like my larger pieces the wall and door are painted next.

CLICK HERE to go directly to the Senkarik eBay auction.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term, ACEO stands for Art Cards Editions and Originals, a category on eBay that has become quite the rage for collectors over the last few years. The painted image is required to measure 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/2 inches, the size of a baseball trading card. To learn more about how I prepare the support for my ACEOs CLICK HERE. The terra-cotta tile floor is painted, followed by the Trumpet Vine and Hollyhocks. To see any of the images enlarged just click on the picture.

Classic Red       ACEO     3 1/2 inches tall and 2 1/2 inches wide

This is an Original Oil Painting on Strathmore archival linen and is signed on the back. Several of our Team Senkarik members collect these little originals and frame them in a regular frame with a wide, 4 inch matte. The ones we’ve seen look pretty cool. Bidding for Classic Red on eBay starts at a penny. That’s right, one cent!  HURRY, the auction will end on Sunday, May 27 at 9 PM Eastern Time. So HAPPY BIDDING! Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

To go to my eBay auction CLICK HERE.

Memories of Venice

May 23, 2012

Ah, gondolas. Gliding through the canals of Venice in one is so totally unique and romantic. At one time gondolas were painted in various colors, however black was prevalent because it looked so elegant and was suitable for every kind of big event. Some say the black color is derived from the black pitch used to seal the boats and make them waterproof. Whatever the reason, the graceful gondolas are all now black and a ride in one has become a tradition for visitors to Venice. A mixture of Alizarin Crimson + Pthalo Blue is used to paint the gondolas. A little White is added for the highlights. This mix gives a blue touch to the Black; ideal for replicating the highly enameled surface of the boats.

The ferro, on the front of the bow, has become a symbol of Venice. The S form imitates the winding of the Grand Canal and the six teeth represent the six districts into which Venice is divided. The semi-circular break between the curved top and the six teeth is said to represent the Rialto Bridge. The ferro of the gondola on the left catches the light from the lamp above, while the foreground one remains in shadow.

Geraniums fill the foreground containers. The flowers are blocked in first with a large Bright brush. The blossoms are done first so the color will remain crisp and clean when the foliage is painted.

The leaves are now painted around the pinks and reds of the Geranium blossoms. Some of the blue paint, leftover from the water, is used in the foliage to add variation and coolness in the depths of the warm leaves.

Memories of Venice          20″ x 24″        Original Oil Painting

The final step is to let the glow of the lamplight illuminate the promenade behind the containers of flowers. I think Venice is one of the most romantic places to visit. In the evening after the tourist traffic dies down it is absolutely magical. We’ve wandered the back walkways along hidden canals without seeing a soul, the only sounds were the calls of the night birds. You feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. I must admit, I’m extremely pleased with how Memories of Venice turned out. Jack said he is really going to miss seeing this piece on my easel. We will enjoy it a few more days while it dries and then ship it to the newlyweds, Laura and Mike. This has been a lot of fun, thank you for following along. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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Stripes, Stripes and More Stripes

May 22, 2012

I want to take a moment and share our Night Blooming Cereus with you. It awarded us with another flower today. It doesn’t bloom very often; when it does the blossoms open in the dark of night. This one totally closed up by 9 AM. But what an early morning surprise that we got to enjoy for a few hours. Just had to stop and “smell the roses” so to speak.

The promenade on this side of the Grand Canal is painted cooler, or bluer, in the distance and warmer as it comes forward. Then the perspective lines of the tile work are drawn into the wet paint from the back to the front. The horizontal ones separating the individual tiles are drawn next. I do this freehand using a fine liner brush. I can’t use the mahl stick here because it would limit my movement and I couldn’t make a smooth line.

Brightly colored striped mooring posts are seen all throughout Venice, randomly placed along the canals for anchoring boats. I think they are so cool, but they certainly take some concentration to paint. The entire pole is blocked in first with the lighter green. Then the darker blue stripes are worked into the wet paint.

Golden caps top out the mooring posts. Today my painting session is cut a little short, we absolutely have to go to the grocery store. I feel like old Mother Hubbard, our cupboards are bare. We should finish up tomorrow, see you then. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik



May 21, 2012

First of all I would like to extend a big Texas “Much Obliged” to all of my readers for the neat comments you have made about this painting. I totally appreciate every one of you.

All of the extra paint that I mixed for the sky, bridge and buildings has been saved and placed in rows on the left side of my palette. This will be used for the reflections, I won’t have to try to mix and match. Fortunately with oils the paint stays workable for several days. Please remember, you can click on any of the pictures to see them larger.

The bright lights on the promenade floor of the hotel are painted, I’m ready to begin on the Grand Canal. Using a mixture of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Ultramarine Blue + White I begin to block in the basic color of the water. The dark reflection of the underside of the bridge is the same mix with extra MUD added in. Reflections extend straight down from the objects casting them. Therefore the darker color is pulled downward with a #12 Bright brush into the wet paint of the water.

My objective at this point is to get the water covered. Using the blue I mixed in the previous step the water along the distant edge of the Grand Canal is painted. The color of the sky influences the water closest to the viewer so that part of the canal is blocked in with some of the sky colors that were saved. The area of transition between the two is softened with a brush dragged horizontally.

Now for the reflections of the buildings and lights seen under the bridge. First the color is pulled straight down. Then horizontal strokes are made to indicate the lights glimmering and dancing on the rippling water.

Using paint saved from the previous session the deep colors of the Rialto Hotel are painted into the water below the structure.

Finally the bright reflections shimmering from the well-lit, bustling restaurant are pulled into the dark water. WOW, what a difference that makes. This is so much fun. I took the liberty of changing the tablecloths on the outdoor tables at the base of the bridge to a deep red, cooler than the warm yellow ones that were originally there. Just following that simple rule: Warm Colors come forward, Cool Colors go back. Just making sure those tables stay in the background. I’m so excited about this painting, thank you for joining in the process. Please feel free to ask questions. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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. Thank you.


May 20, 2012

We received this in the mail yesterday. MMMMMMMMMMM! Nancy makes the absolute best jam ever. How did Paul and Nancy know I love jam n’ peanut butter sandwiches? Do you think the jam is a bribe? I guess I’d better get back to work.

The railing on the bridge is complete, along with the banner that was hanging when Laura and Mike were in Venice. Working on the buildings with all of the windows requires a steady hand, this would be difficult to paint without the assistance of my mahl stick.

I want the lowering sun to catch the tops of the buildings. The basic colors of the structures are blocked in first, making them gradually lighter and warmer closer to the top. Then the windows and shutters are added into the wet paint of the walls.

Capturing the day changing from late afternoon into early evening is a really fun challenge for me. The setting sun catches the green shutters on the upper levels of the Rialto Hotel. Some of the guests in the lower rooms have turned their lights on, they glow warmly against the darkening walls. Whew! That took some time to do, there are a bunch of windows in those buildings. I’ve worked up an appetite, maybe I’ll go make a jam ‘n peanut butter sandwich! Have a great evening. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


Rialto Bridge

May 19, 2012

OK, let’s get to work on that sunset sky. Purples are made of Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson + White. Then Cadmium Red Light + more White is added to some of the mix for that sun warmed glow. My first inclination is to make the sky lighter toward the horizon and darker at the top.

But I quickly realize the lights in the lamp post will show much better with the darker sky behind them. So I repaint the sky making the lower part on the left darker and let the setting sun illuminate the clouds in the upper right behind the Rialto Hotel. With my wrist braced against a mahl stick to steady my hand the lamps are drawn into the wet paint of the sky. To find out more about our mahl stick CLICK HERE.

The Rialto Bridge is one of Venice’s most famous landmarks. If you have ever been to that incredible city you’ve probably walked across the ancient structure. The well lit central archway glows against the early evening sky. Artists who paint work on a two dimensional surface, paper or canvas, attempting to make it appear three dimensional. There are several techniques used to help give the painting depth. One of the most simple rules is Warm Colors come forward, Cool colors recede. Following this rule the most distant portion of the bridge, the right side, is made bluer so it will recede. The left side is painted a bit warmer to make it visually come forward.

Before finishing the railings I paint the buildings lining the canal on the far side of the bridge that can be seen through the opening. This is done in a very loose technique to give the impression of structures and bright lights in the background. I’ll save the detail for the Hotel that is closer to us on the right of the bridge.  This is another one of those basic but very important rules: Objects closer to the viewer are more detailed. Please remember, if you would like to see any of these pictures larger just click on the image. Thanks for visiting the studio today, hope you will come back tomorrow. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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. Thank you.

Dessert Painting

May 18, 2012

Got all of my reference materials together and I’m ready to begin drawing the composition up on the canvas. The sketch acts as a road map, I know where the basic elements will go before starting. Planning beforehand prevents a lot of disasters and redrawing later. The laptop is a wonderful way to view our reference photos. I can flip back and forth through the images as I work. The basic drawing on the canvas is done in an oil wash of Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson + Liquin. My palette is a piece of 1/4 inch glass on a white shelf board. The container on the left of the palette is a water bottle with the top cut off, leaving the handle. It holds odorless paint thinner. The roll of tissue is to clean my brushes as I work.

This piece is one of those I call a “Dessert Painting”. I’ve been looking forward to painting this piece like one does anticipating the tasty delicacies on the dessert tray at a fancy restaurant. Or waiting for rolls to finish cooking so you can slather them with homemade jam. It’s a real challenge, a little different from my usual voice and I can hardly wait to get started. The foreground lamp post is the key to the scale of the piece so that is drawn in first.

After the lamp post is finished the Rialto Bridge is drawn up. The most difficult part is getting the perspective of all of the arched openings on the bridge correct. The buildings on the other side and base of the broad promenade lining the Grand Canal are also established. The canvas has been primed with a coat of white acrylic. This allows me to “Erase” any errant lines. I use a clean brush dipped in thinner to wipe the incorrect lines away. You can see where I’ve done a little “Erasing” above the right side of the bridge.

The sketch is finished. I don’t worry about all of the windows and doors on the buildings at this stage. They will be painted wet-into-wet when the buildings are blocked in. I have added a few more striped mooring posts than were in the sketch to balance the composition. I love the way this piece looks, it’s tempting to just leave it like this and not worry about applying any paint! It has everything Laura and Mike asked for: Rialto Bridge, Rialto Hotel, Grand Canal, Light Posts, Gondolas………

OPPS! No Sunset. I guess I’ll have to paint it after all! Have a great day and hope to see you tomorrow. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

A Wedding Present

May 17, 2012

Today I’m working on a little different commission, a wedding present! Laura and Mike just returned from their honeymoon in Venice a couple of weeks ago. Their Uncle and Aunt, Paul and Nancy, asked me to paint a remembrance of their wedding trip as a gift. That’s Laura and Mike in St. Mark’s Square on the right.

I was provided with a couple of pictures the newlyweds took in Venice. They were lucky enough to stay at the Rialto Hotel (the red building) at the base of the Rialto Bridge. Laura asked if it was possible to paint the hotel NOT under construction. Fortunately when we were there Jack took several photos from almost this same spot and the Rialto Hotel was in its full splendor.

The second shot is in the completely opposite direction. This was taken at the foot of the bridge, the Rialto Hotel is just out of the picture on the left. Laura and Mike love the sunset on the Grand Canal with the glowing lamps. They would like to have a combination of the two. Oh, and could I add a gondola? HMMMMM……………

After a lot of thinking and doodling I decided to focus on the bridge and hotel as the sun is setting. So here is my sketch. A lamp post surrounded by flower pots will be on the left and a couple of gondolas will bob, to and fro, in the right foreground. The fun challenge will be to paint all the reflections of the glowing lights in the Grand Canal. Hope you will come follow along and watch how it turns out. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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. Thank you.

Captivating Cove

May 15, 2012

We are so blessed to have had the wonderful experience of living on the Carmel coast. I want to share this secluded beach where we would take our daily walks. A quick sketch is made, the basic elements are drawn up on the canvas and I begin painting with the sky.

To go directly to my eBay auction CLICK HERE.

The famous Lone Cypress was not far from us. I took the liberty of moving it so you can enjoy the view from our quiet little cove. The foreground will be in shadow to accentuate the sun warmed rocks and Lone Cypress in the distance.

After the water and foregound beach are blocked in reflections of the rocks are pulled straight down into the wet sand. I couldn’t paint this special place without our resident sea otter, Roscoe. Usually around sunset the waters would calm down. We’d walk to the beach, sit on the rocks, watch the setting sun and enjoy his feeding ritual. He seemed to like watching us almost as much as we did looking at him. Probably he wanted to make sure we didn’t steal his tasty seafood dinner! Just click on the image to see little Roscoe enlarged.

Captivating Cove      16″ x 19″     Original Oil Painting

Have you ever dreamed of sitting by a quiet cove as the sunset paints the distant clouds in shades of pink and orange? Here is your opportunity to enjoy this experience every single day. Listen to the CLACK, CLACK, CLACK of Roscoe, the sea otter, opening an abalone for his evening meal while you watch the glow of the lowering sun on the famous Lone Cypress. Let Captivating Cove bring you the  joy of the Carmel coastline and refreshing sea breezes each time you look at it on your wall.

Framed in our Senkarik White Signature Frame the outer dimension of Captivating Cove is 16 inches tall and 19 inches wide. The size of the painted image is 11 1/2 inches tall by 14 1/2 inches wide. Captivating Cove is ready to put up on your wall, we even provide the hanger and nail. A Senkarik original oil painting this size sells in our galleries for $890. The auction bidding starts at 1 cent. That’s right, one penny. To say Thank You we are giving FREE SHIPPING, anywhere in the continental United States, to the winner.

CLICK HERE to go to my eBay auction.

The auction ends Sunday, May 20 at 8 PM in Texas. That’s Central Daylight Savings Time.  So have a little fun and take a trip to the coast. HAPPY BIDDING. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik