Archive for March, 2013

We Wish You a Blessed EASTER

March 31, 2013


For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

We are so blessed to have every one of you in our lives. Your friendship, continued support, thoughts and prayers have been incredibly wonderful. The beauty God has created leaves us in total awe. We live in peace and tranquility knowing He gave his only son for us.


Jack and I thank you for being part of our life and wish everyone a Happy Easter.

Color Recipes

March 30, 2013

2013-3-29 Wild turkeys 12013-3-29 Wild turkeys 3Turkeys for Easter! Well actually a few days before. We were on the phone the day before yesterday with Karen Reif, a good friend and collector when I gasped, “They’re back! Our Turkeys are back.”

2013-3-29 Wild turkey closeup

Wild Turkeys are indigenous in this part of Texas. Last year we had a family visit our bird feeder every day for several months. We got to see the four babies grow from chicks into adults. Looks like we might get the same pleasure this year. They love to take dust baths in the area where we burn brush. You can see the pile in the top right picture. Unfortunately we are in the middle of a drought so we can’t burn. So I guess our turkeys won’t get any dust baths until we get some rain.

SB0613 Stuart Step 9

OK, back to work. I’ve shown the color mixes I use for skin tones in the picture above. You can click on the image to see it larger.

The top row is for the upper portion of the face. The colors are mixed from varying proportions of Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + White. MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) is added for the darkest mix at the left end of the row.

The middle row is for the central facial band: the ears, cheeks and nose. The skin is thinner in this area and blood vessels are closer to the surface making it redder. The mixes here are made of Cadmium Orange + Cadmium Red Light + a little Alizarin Crimson + Ultramarine Blue + White. Mud is added for the darker shades.

The lower face colors are made of Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + MUD + White. The two mixtures at the right end of the row have some Cobalt Blue added.

SB0613 Stuart Step 11

Unless someone is out in the sun all the time without a hat the forehead area is generally lighter and more yellow than the rest of the face.

SB0613 Stuart Step 12

The ears, cheeks and nose are painted with the middle face colors. Stuart has heavier facial hair than Ben so I use more of the blue grays in his lower face. Right now my objective is to get the canvas covered, not to achieve an exact likeness. I will come back after the entire face is blocked in and begin refining the details. Have a wonderful day. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


Plaid, Plaid and more Plaid

March 29, 2013

SB0613 Stuart Step 4

Stuart, Ben’s older brother is next. The sky and ocean are completed first, then I block in the hair into the wet paint of the background.

SB0613 Stuart Step 5

Stuart’s ears, neck and the sides of his face are also painted while the background is still fresh. Like with his hair this allows me to soften the edges.

SB0613 Stuart Step 6

Now for the plaid shirt. I begin by making the vertical stripes of the pattern. Since the light is coming from the upper left the top of the shoulder and collar on that side will be lighter.

SB0613 Stuart Step 7

The horizontal stripes are made next, followed by the thin lines in the plaid pattern. This is all painted wet-into-wet. The collar is definitely a challenge!

SB0613 Stuart Step 8

WHEW! The shirt is done. Tomorrow we’ll begin working on Stuart’s face. Hope you’ll drop by the studio, I’ll be explaining the color recipes I use for skin tones. Have a great evening. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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Finishing Ben…Almost

March 28, 2013

SB0813 Ben Step 10

Even though Ben was wearing just a V-neck sweater in our reference photo Sidney asked me to add a shirt. Both Ben and Stuart seem to like plaid shirts so I’ve added one under the sweater.

SB0813 Ben Step 12

The biggest challenge in this portrait is the lighting. The original reference photo was taken in the shade of a huge tree, with no light and shadow pattern on Ben’s face. We’ve moved him to the sunny beach, so I have to make up the facial lighting and color. The human face has three color zones. The forehead is yellower, the center band with nose and cheeks is redder and the lower face is more blue. This is particularly prominent in men because of their facial hair. I’ll be showing the color recipes I use for each zone in a few days so please come back.

SB0813 Ben Step 13

Ben’s eyes are a deep brown. The iris, or colored part of the eye, is highlighted directly across from the white catch light. Since the sunlight is coming in from the upper left the catch light is placed about 11 o’clock. This makes the lighter area on the iris at 5 o’clock. You can click on the image to see it larger.

SB0813 Ben Step 14Ben Portrait ImageComputers are so wonderful. I can put the image of my painting right beside the reference photo to judge all of the details. This makes it so easy in refining the portrait.

SB0813 Ben 17x14

We’re really close. I can already see I need to raise the hairline just a touch and the left corner of the mouth needs a little work. I’m going to let this sit for a few days and move on to another portrait in the group. This will allow me to come back fresh and do the final tweaking. So we’ll start on Stuart tomorrow. Have a great evening and hope you’ll visit our studio again soon. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


Back to the Portraits

March 27, 2013

Ben Portrait ImageSB0813 Ben Step 2Remember the group of portraits I started back in February? Well our collector got sick so we decided to wait until he was well enough to take part in the progress. Dr. Kaye is doing much better now so let’s get on with painting the grandchildren. We’ll start with Ben. The reference picture is on the left, my sketch on canvas on the right. As you can see it’s definitely not an exact likeness yet. But don’t panic, I’ll refine it and make the needed adjustments as I paint.

SB0813 Ben Step 3

Kaye and his wife Sidney spent Christmas with their children and grand kids at the beach. Sidney asked if I could put the ocean in the background. Of course! I mix a large batch of the sky and ocean colors. This way all of the backgrounds will match.

SB0813 Ben Step 4

We had discussed putting clouds in but I feel they will be distracting. The warm tones of the faces will look better against the cool blues of the clear sky and water. The horizon line needs to be softened so it will fall back into the distance.

SB0813 Ben Step 5

The first step is to make a zig-zag along the entire length of the horizon.

SB0813 Ben Step 6

Then I lightly drag over the zig-zag line with a clean Bright brush. This smooths and softens the distant horizon.

SB0813 Ben Step 11

The extra sky and ocean paint is saved in a plastic cup. I’ll fill the cup with water, this keeps air from getting to the paint. It will stay fresh to use for the other three portraits.

SB0813 Ben Step 8

Ben’s hair is blocked in next. By working into the wet paint of the sky the edges of the hair remain soft. I’ll come back later and do some more work on the hair. Right now it’s a bit too reddish.

SB0813 Ben Step 9

Now let’s work on the sweater. The edge of the right shoulder is softened so it will fall back. Tomorrow we’ll begin on the face. Hope you’ll come back to watch. Have a great evening. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik

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Daisies and Hollyhocks

March 24, 2013

SC1713 Step 37

Yellow Daisies always look good with a backdrop of blue. I go back to my regular Flowers First, Leaves Last sequence of painting. The corner of a Bright brush is used to make the delicate petals.

SC1713 Step 39

A dangling vine fills out the Daisy container. Then the shadows of the White Hollyhocks are blocked in with various shades of Ultramarine Blue + White, Dioxazine Purple + White and Pthalo Blue + White.

SC1713 Step 40

The foliage is painted with warm greens made of Ultramarine Blue + Lemon Yellow. Next I add the centers with a thin mix of Magenta + Liquin.

SC1713 Step 41

The characteristic tall, seed pod lined stalks of the Hollyhocks gently sway in the soft breeze drifting in through the open archway. White highlights on the crepe paper like flowers are added and all that’s left to do is paint the bright yellow stamens in the middle of the blossoms.

SC1713 A Whisper of Serenity 30x40A Whisper of Serenity   30″ x 40″   Original Oil Painting

We’re done. Wouldn’t you just love to linger in the courtyard garden and drink in the fragrance of the roses? Serenaded by A Whisper of Serenity as the water happily splashes in the fountain. Venture out onto the soft grass, let the sweet little lamb nibble your fingers and then head down to explore the old mill. A delightful memory of Bucks County! 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. As we say in Texas, “Much Obliged!

Geraniums and Daylilies

March 23, 2013

SC1713 Step 31

The fountain is part of the “Threshold” and provides a dark upright to contrast with the light spilling out from behind. After the main structure is finished I paint the water cascading over the edge of the upper bowl into the large basin below. This is done by lightly dragging my brush, loaded with a mix of White + Ultramarine Blue, straight down. The skips and bumps give the appearance of moving water.

SC1713 Step 32

Geraniums fill the terra-cotta planters in front. The Reds of the blossoms are blocked in first. Mixes of Cadmium Red Deep + Magenta and pure Cadmium Red Deep are used. Then the leaves are worked around the flower color, helping to shape the blossoms.

SC1713 Step 33

The petals are painted with the corner of a medium Bright brush. The square corner of the brush makes nice, crisp strokes perfect to indicate the individual petals. The paint is applied with lots of texture.

SC1713 Step 34

Daylilies are painted opposite from my usual sequence of Flowers First, Leaves Last because the foliage is long and thin. It would be difficult to paint the strap-like leaves around the flowers.

SC1713 Step 35

Now the flower color is gently “Laid” on top of the leaves and background. I don’t want to pick up any of the color underneath and dirty the flowers.

SC1713 Step 36

Stems and deep centers finish out the cheery Daylilies. These are some of my favorite flowers, unfortunately the deer around our area love them. So much so that we call them “Deer Candy”! Have a wonderful evening and hope you’ll come back tomorrow to help plant the rest of the flowers. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


Courtyard Floor

March 22, 2013

SC1713 Step 27

Slate is commonly used in this part of the country as flooring. This presents a different challenge from the terra-cotta pavers found in the Southwest. However, I follow the same sequence in painting the floor. My first step is to establish the shadow pattern on the courtyard. The sunlight will spill in from the left, coming behind the dark upright of the fountain. Remember, if you would like to see any of these pictures larger just click on the image.

SC1713 Step 28

Then the sunlit area of the floor is blocked in. The slate is basically a warm gray. Mixtures of various combinations of MUD + Cadmium Orange + a little Pthalo Blue + White are used for the floor. The portion in the light is made warmer to give the feel of the sun baked stone. Using a brush dipped in MUD + Liquin I begin to make irregular perspective lines in the wet paint of the floor.

SC1713 Step 29

After the perspective lines are indicated, horizontal lines separating the large slabs of slate are drawn.

SC1713 Step 30

And…. the slate floor is finished. The dark shadow across the front acts as a “Threshold”. Think of being outdoors on a warm summer night and looking back at your home. The front door is open, revealing the well lit interior. Your eye is pulled through the darkness, across the “Threshold” of the open door to the bright light inside. The shadow across the front of the painting provides that dark “Threshold”, the viewer’s eye is drawn to the light dancing across the slate courtyard. This piece actually has a double threshold. The second is the shadow under the arch, the light beyond pulls your gaze to the sheep and mill in the distance. As Jack would say, “That’s your little lesson for the day!” Have a great one. Tomorrow we’ll start planting. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik


Weathered Doors and Roses

March 21, 2013

SC1713 Step 20

Here we go again. I’ve got the paint mixed for the windows and doors. Now, I’m sure this is a surprise…..the basic mixture #3 is Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Orange + White with just a touch of Pthalo Blue.  #1. Mostly White with a little bit of #3 added. #2. Mix #3 with a little bit more White. #4. This is mixture #3 with MUD to darken the value. I know I’ve mentioned this before but it’s amazing the variety of colors you can get from this mix in different proportions.

barn doors with roses 3

I love these old weathered barn doors from a farm near New Hope. The moment I saw them I knew they would end up in a painting.

SC1713 Step 22

After painting the windows the shadows on the doors are blocked in first with mix #3. Then I come back and paint the areas of the doors that are touched by the sun with mixture #2.

SC1713 Step 23

Resting my arm on the mahl stick to steady my hand, the lines separating the individual planks are drawn with mix #1. #2 is used in the shadows.

SC1713 Step 24

Climbing Roses fill the courtyard with fragrance. The deep red-pink blossoms are blocked in with mixes of various amounts of Alizarin Crimson + White.

SC1713 Step 25

The foliage is painted around the flower color, giving shape to the individual blossoms. Painting the roses in this sequence: Flowers First, Leaves Last helps to keep the color of the flowers crisp and clean. If the green was applied first, my brush would pick up the color from the leaves when painting the flowers, making them muddy.

SC1713 Step 26

Ahhhh! The roses are finished. Take a deep breath, can you smell that wonderful aroma? The mill is beginning to drop back now that we’re getting some warmth in the courtyard. It will really change in the next session when I tackle the floor. Hope you’ll come watch. 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. As we say in Texas, “Much Obliged!

Duck, Duck, GOOSE!

March 20, 2013

2013-2-13 BBWD

Spring is such an exciting time of year. The bird population on Senkarik Pond is always in flux. But one constant is our Black Bellied Whistling Ducks. We’ve seen several broods grow from chicklets into mama and papa ducks. They are year round residents, however their numbers increase in the winter and spring. I guess our locals invite all of their relatives down to escape the cold. We estimated almost one hundred on the pond this morning.

2013-3-20 BBWD on log and geese

Duck, duck…….GOOSE! A couple of years ago two Mystery Guests appeared on our little lake. This is the third year they’ve appeared. You can see them on the other side of the water hanging out with the ducks, they are Egyptian Geese. We saw them building a nest last year but never saw any babies. We certainly hope to see some this time.

2013-3-20 Geese and BBWD closeup

Here’s a closeup of the striking birds. You can enlarge it by clicking on the image. To see more pictures of our Egyptian guests CLICK HERE.

2013-3-20 fountain, geraniums and margarite daisies

And I just had to share a few more shots of our spring garden. Our pond is in the background. There is a light dusting of blue on the meadow behind the flowers, that’s bluebonnets. Usually the field is solid blue this time of year. We’ve just haven’t had enough rain for them to be at their best.

2013-3-20 garden boot planters

My recycled garden boot planters are really starting to fill out. Want to know how we made them? CLICK HERE to find out. Last but not least, Jack’s newest article has been published on Fine Art Studio Online. You can CLICK HERE to read Be Careful Who You Feed.

We had to go into the big city today for a few appointments so I didn’t get any painting done. I promise I’ll be back at the easel tomorrow. See you then. Hugs, Mikki Senkarik