Archive for November, 2014

Farolito Shadows

November 30, 2014

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 12

The long spiky leaves of the yucca are made by holding a medium size Bright (square) brush sideways. The sword-like brushstrokes pull easily into the wet paint of the wall. If you’d like to know more about the brushes I use CLICK HERE.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 14

A slightly larger Bright brush is used to shape the individual cactus pads. When applying the paint I give the brush a twist, forming the oval pads.

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The thorns on the cactus are indicated with a fine liner brush. I don’t try to make each and every one, just a few here and there that glitter in the sunlight. Then the snow that’s collected on the pads is added, it’s a lot like frosting a cake 🙂

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 16

I originally had planned Chamisa in this corner but realized it would be too similar in color to the mums. So we’ll go with some sage, typically found in the high desert. It fits in well with the cactus and yucca. The soft, gray greens look so nice with the blues and lavenders of the freshly fallen snow.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 17

I love Chili Wreaths. Again, the side of my Bright brush is used to highlight the hot, spicy peppers with Cadmium Red Light.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows 14x14Farolito Shadows   14 inches by 14 inches   Original Oil Painting

Farolito Shadows cascade across the rough adobe wall and bright portal. Even though it’s late in the afternoon the candles are lit. Tiny flames dance and flicker, ready for Christmas Eve celebrations in Santa Fe. If you’d like to see this or any of the other images enlarged just click on the picture. Thanks to Kent and Joe for allowing me the fun of painting this wintery scene. I’m looking forward to working on the other pieces in their Four Seasons Quartet. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG


Let It Snow

November 29, 2014

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 5

The background is made with cool greens that will provide a dark contrast to the warmth of the Farolitos along the top of the wall. “Painting Forward” I begin work on the Santa Fe building. Farolitos, or luminaries as some call them, are paper bags filled with sand that have a candle inside. It’s fun developing the shadows they cast on the ancient adobe.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 6

Light and dark mixtures of Pthalo Blue + White are used for the bright blue door.

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The crenelated shadows also fall across the door. Their edges are softer than on the wall because they’re farther away from the Farolitos.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 8

This piece is painted on the sides of the gallery wrap canvas. I have to use a step stool to paint the top edge. It’s a good opportunity to show you my studio setup. My easel, palette and taboret are on wheels, it is very easy to move things around to accommodate any size canvas. If you’d like to see the arrangement I used in our old studio to paint a six foot by eight foot painting CLICK HERE.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 9

The bags of the Farolitos are highlighted with a little Cadmium Yellow Medium near the bottom to give the impression of the votive candles burning inside.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 10

Mums have survived the cold, the flowers are blocked in with mixes of Cadmium Orange + Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Orange and Cadmium Orange + Cadmium Yellow Medium.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 11

AND…..Let it snow! The mums and entry courtyard are blanketed with the soft fluffy stuff The white snow is made cooler in the back with mixes of Ultramarine Blue + White. The foreground is made warmer using mixtures of Dioxazine Purple + White. I follow a simple rule, Cool Colors Recede, Warm Colors Come Forward, to help give depth to the painting. The blue door reflects into the snow directly below it. So I pull a brushstroke of Pthalo Blue + White into the white shadow along its base. Pure White is reserved to indicate the sun streaking across the smooth surface. Thanks for following along today. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

A Seasonal Quartet

November 28, 2014

Sketch Kent and Joe

I’m starting on a little different commission today, Kent and Joe asked me to design four pieces based on the seasons. It’s fun to develop the sketches knowing the paintings will hang as a group. Please remember as you go through my blog, if you’d like to enlarge any of the images just click on the picture.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 1

We’re starting with the Winter piece. Drawing the plan up on the canvas for a painting with snow takes a bit of thinking ahead. I delineate all of the architectural structure, even though a lot of it won’t be seen in the final piece. This method helps me to keep the relative proportions of the basis elements correct.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 2

Next I begin establishing the lines where the snow will be. The chili pepper wreath has been washed in with a mix of Alizarin Crimson + Liquin.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 3

Using a clean brush dipped in odorless paint thinner the ground lines are “Erased”.

SK9414 Farolito Shadows step 4

The sketch on the canvas is complete! We’ll start adding color in our next session. Hope you’ll come back to the studio and follow along. 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!

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

We Give Thanks……..

November 26, 2014

SH7214 Fresh Harvest 10x10

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. Jack and I feel so fortunate to be together and to live in this great country is an incredible gift from God. We are so thankful for all of the men and women who have sacrificed so much so we can enjoy our lives in America. With Thanksgiving in our hearts we want to say how much we appreciate all of you who read this blog. We have such wonderful collectors and friends. Because of you we are able to make a living doing what we love. Thank you. Or, as we say in Texas, Much Obliged.

We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with Laughter, Love and Hugs

Mikki and Jack signature JPEG

Full of Color

November 25, 2014

SK9214 - SK9314 step 15

Geraniums fill the containers by the door. They were blocked in with the same sequence of Flowers First, Leaves Last. The blossoms are highlighted with Cadmium Red Light + White.  Please remember, you can click on any of the pictures to enlarge them.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 16

The mass of White Daisies is first painted in shades of Ultramarine Blue + White, a lavender made of Dioxazine Purple + White, and Pthalo Blue + White. This initial block in provides the shadow color of the blossoms.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 17

After leaves are painted with mixes of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Yellow Medium + White I add the highlights on the individual petals of the Daisies. Pure White is reserved for this step. My wrist is braced against the mahl stick to steady my hand as I make the fine details. What is a mahl stick? CLICK HERE to find out.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 18

The Calla lilies are a warmer White than the Daisies. So a mix of Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + White is used for the shadow areas. For variation I add a little of the lavender from the Daisies into the mixture.

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Broad, tropical leaves are shaped with the flat side of a large Bright brush. Would you like to know more about the paint brushes I like to use? Just CLICK HERE.

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Stems and stamens complete the Calla Lilies. Then I work on the California Poppies. The fragile blossoms are mixes of Cadmium Red Light + Cadmium Orange and Pure Cadmium Orange. The lacy foliage is mixes in various proportions of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + White.

SK9214 - SK9314 Finished

Boisterous Sunflowers fill out the corner under the Wisteria and our Diptych is DONE! If you’d like an in depth tutorial on how I paint Sunflowers CLICK HERE.

SK9214 Full of Sunshine 14x14Full of Sunshine   14 inches by 14 inches

SK9314 Lively Colors 14x14Lively Color     14 inches by 14 inches

If you’ve never painted a Diptych before think about trying one. It’s really fun designing and working on two paintings that can hang individually or as a pair. I’d like to thank Monica and Myron for giving me this opportunity. Hope you’ve had as good a time following along as I’ve had painting! Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

A Passing Shower

November 23, 2014

SK9214 - SK9314 step 6

It’s really neat working on two pieces at the same time. The long, reaching arms of the Bougainvillea cross over the gap to the canvas on the right. The flowers, or bracts, of the vine have been blocked in with mixes in various proportions of Permanent Rose + White. The darker mixtures are used for the shadows, the lighter ones are reserved for the highlights.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 7

After details are completed on the Bougainvillea I direct my attention to the Wisteria. Working in my usual sequence of Flowers First, Leaves Last the blossoms are made of Dioxazine Purple + White. Then the foliage is painted around the purple, helping to shape the long, dangling flowers.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 8

My brush dances across the canvas as I highlight the individual petals of the Wisteria.

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A quick shower just came through. I pull some of the door color into the fresh paint of the floor to give the impression of reflections, shimmering in the damp pavers.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 11

The crevices separating the tiles are drawn freehand into the wet paint of the floor with a fine-liner brush. You can see this better by enlarging the picture, just click on the image.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 12

If you don’t have a mahl stick you can use this method to support your hand when painting intricate areas on your art. Since I’m right handed I brace my left hand against the easel. Resting my right wrist on the left steadies my hand in order to delineate the details of the sunface tile.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 13

The Hollyhocks are mixes of Alizarin Crimson + Magenta + White, Dioxazine Purple + Magenta + White and Magenta + White. The masses of flowers are blocked in first, then the leaves are painted around the brighter color.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 14

Tall stalks covered with seed pods and bright yellow stamens finish out the Hollyhocks. The Yellow door appears even more intense because the purples in the Hollyhocks are its complimentary color; across from it on the color wheel. Hope you’ll come back for our next session. Bring some gardening gloves, you can help me plant the rest of the flowers. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Cobalt Blue Walls

November 22, 2014


The courtyard of Casa Azul is the theme for my latest commission. The lovely cobalt blue building in Mexico City was the birthplace and home of their native artist, Frida Kahlo. Jack’s portrait of Frida is shown above. Casa Azul is now a museum dedicated to her art.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 1

One of the fun things about this collaboration is the piece is in two parts, a Diptych. I work on them together just like it’s one painting. The first step is to sketch the basic plan on the canvases in a thin oil wash made of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin.

SK9214 - SK9314 Mixes for wall

My color is mixed; I’m ready to begin painting the pretty blue walls and red trim. The mixtures are #1. Cobalt Blue + a touch of Pthalo Blue + White. #2. Mix #1 with more White added. #3. Alizarin Crimson + a little Cadmium Red Light + White. #4. Mix #3 with MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson. #5. Mix #3 with more White. If you would like to learn more about our Double Primary Color Mixing System CLICK HERE.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 2

The lightest areas of the rough stucco walls are covered to begin with. Then the shadows are dragged over the lighter paint. Working wet-into-wet softens their edges.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 3

After completing the red trim around the portal I paint the bright yellow door. The shadows are a combination of Cadmium Yellow Medium + Cadmium Orange + MUD. The sunlit portion is pure Cadmium Yellow Medium. Like on the walls the shadows are pulled into the sunny part of the door.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 4

The Chili Ristra is washed in with thin mixes of Alizarin Crimson and Magenta. The shapes of the peppers are made by “Lifting off” the wash with a clean brush dipped in thinner. Then the trim around the window is blocked in. You can see this better if you enlarge the pictures. Just Click on the image.

SK9214 - SK9314 step 5

There you go: Red, Yellow and Blue. Obviously this is an artist’s home, painted in the primary colors! 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!

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Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary…….

November 17, 2014

Kitchen Garden 1 2014-3-5March 5, 2014

How does your garden grow? Well, it’s coming. Here is our side yard outside the kitchen window when we purchased our new home. I wish I’d taken a picture before we cleaned all the trash out of this area. But I can assure you, it was a mess.

Kitchen Garden 1A 2014-7-4July 4, 2014

There were bricks and rocks strewn all over the property. One of the first things was to gather the bricks and make a platform for the garbage cans. You can see this better if you’ll click on the picture to enlarge it. Then flower beds were established with flexible edging. This allowed us to go ahead and get some plants in before the worst of the summer heat descended.

2014-9-11 Kitchen garden walkway 3 closeupSeptember 11, 2014

Had to get a new fence, the old one was more holes than boards! Our kitties are much safer now. We realized after the first rain that the soil here is thick with clay. The mud was a mess. The original plan was to make the walkway with Pavestones but it was going to be a while before that would happen. So Jack came up with a brilliant idea. Why not use the same mulch that was in the flower beds in the walkway? Just use the Pavestones for the steps. Then when it rains we could walk without getting our shoes caked with sticky muck. The rocks along the wall were collected off the property. The larger stones lining the walk are Rumble Stones, purchased at Home Depot.

2014-10-3 Kitchen Garden steps in progress 1October 3, 2014

Our plants are thriving. We brought cactus pads with us from our previous home. They are loving the hot, southern exposure. A Vitex Tree, Pride of Barbados, Jerusalem Sage, Salvia Greggi, Mexican Bush Sage and Zinnias are filling out. All of these are low water plants. Work continues on the walls of the walk. Each step has to be leveled out, then backfilled with mulch.

2014-10-6 Kitchen Garden with MollyOctober 6, 2014

Got the upper set of steps completed. I think they meet with Molly’s approval! She is sitting at the base of our Rose Arbor.

2014-10-8 kitchen garden 1October 8, 2014

Here’s a full picture of the arbor. It’s made of a 16 foot long Livestock Panel that we arched over and attached to steel fence posts. By next year it will be totally covered with Roses. The courtyard is leveled out and I’ve begun laying the Pavestones. Once all the prep work is done this part goes pretty quickly.

2014-10-9 kitchen garden 3October 9, 2014

This is the really fun part. We had a metal cutout made years ago to hang on our front door in Arizona. It’s been a part of our decor in every home we’ve lived in since. We thought it would be fun to incorporate into our kitchen garden.

2014-10-9 kitchen garden 4October 9, 2014

So……what do you think?

2014-10-14 Kitchen garden from window 1October 14, 2014

Our Jack and Mikki Garden from the kitchen window.

2014-10-21 Jack and Mikki courtyard 2October 21, 2014

The sitting area is complete. The Rumblestones are held together with construction glue applied with a caulking gun. I place them first to make sure I like the way they look, letting them sit a few days before gluing them in place permanently. I’ve been known to make changes after I get everything in and study it for a while 🙂

2014-10-21 Kitchen Garden from window with Sissie 1October 21, 2014

Sissie, our other rescue kitty, sure likes the view from the kitchen. I have a feeling the major draw is the bird feeder!

2014-10-27 Kitchen Garden 1October 27, 2014

Now for the lower section of steps and the walls bordering them.

2014-11-2 Kitchen garden 3

Talk about amazing timing. Our AC/Heating Unit went out just I was starting to complete the wall under the kitchen window. You can see the old unit in the previous picture. We had a wonderful company installing the equipment, Peter suggested moving the outside unit further away from the kitchen window so I’d have more room for the garden. Wasn’t that neat? So I incorporated a servicing area beside the unit into the design. AND…..Drum Roll. WE’RE DONE!

2014-11-2 Kitchen garden 1

View from the AC unit. The gate to the front yard is partially open.

2014-11-2 Kitchen garden 6

Looking into the gate from the front yard. The garbage cans reside immediately to the left.

2015-4-10 Kitchen Garden through gate

You want to see how it looks now? C’mon, follow me!

2015-4-10 Kitchen Garden 2

Everything is really coming together, don’t you think?

2015-4-20 Jerusalem sage

This was taken from our kitchen window. We’re loving our new home/studio. Thanks for being on our Team and following along. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG


Sun Washed Vineyards

November 15, 2014

SK9114 Step 44

Let’s do some planting. The flowers of the Geraniums are blocked in with mixes of Cadmium Red Deep + Magenta, Cadmium Red Deep and Magenta + a bit of White. The flat side of a large Bright (Square) brush is used to cover the large mass. Then the corner of the same brush is used to make smaller strokes for individual petals.

SK9114 Step 45

Silver Ponyfoot Vine drapes out of the container by the steps. When we saw this in the nursery I just had to get some for our garden. Having grown up with horses I fell in love with the name! Isn’t it great? After the leaves and flower buds are painted I highlight the Geraniums with Cadmium Red Light.

SK9114 Step 46

The Sunflowers are blocked in with the same sequence, Flowers First, Leaves Last. By working in this order the blossom color remains crisp and clean. I paint the green around the individual flowers, giving them shape. If I painted the leaves first my brush would pick up some of the green when applying the flower color, making it muddy.

SK9114 Step 47

Isn’t it cool how the addition of the large, dark centers make these immediately identifiable as Sunflowers?

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The last step on the Sunflowers is the highlight the individual petals. Next we move to the ivy hugging the base of the old, stone planter.

SK9114 Step 49

I depart from my usual sequence for the Salvia by the fountain. Because the flowers don’t grow in a clump or mass the foliage is blocked in first.

SK9114 Step 50

Now the tall, spiky flowers are gently painted. The color is carefully “Laid” on top of the underlying paint to avoid dirtying the purple blossoms. They are mixes of Dioxazine Purple + Magenta + White.

SK9114 Step 52

Back to Flowers First, Leaves Last for the Gerber Daisies in the foreground. Their bright blossoms of combinations of Permanent Rose, Cadmium Orange and Cadmium Red Light.

SK9114 Step 53

After the leaves are painted the delicate petals of the Daisies are delineated. Please remember, you can enlarge any of the pictures by clicking on the image.

SK9114 Step 51

As Jack and I were looking at the piece he suggested a few Bougainvillea shadows across the top of the white building above the window. It was too stark, drawing the viewer’s attention away from the focal point of the courtyard and distant landscape.

SK9114 Sun Washed Vineyards 40x50Sun Washed Vineyards      40″ by 50″      Original Oil Painting

WE’RE DONE! Wouldn’t you love to live here and enjoy the view of Sun Washed Vineyards every time you walked through the lush courtyard? That’s the greatest part of being an artist, you can make the world the way you’d like it to be. I just want to thank Dayna and Kevin for allowing me the fun of collaborating with them. Hope you’ve enjoyed following along as much as I have painting this piece. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Ancient Terra Cotta Pavers

November 14, 2014

SK9114 Step 36

It’s time to paint the courtyard floor. My colors are mixed and laid out on the palette. All of the browns are mixes of the same colors: MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Cadmium Orange. The lighter mixtures have White added in. Isn’t it amazing how many different mixtures you can make using various proportions of the same colors? The mixes to the right of the browns are pulled out from my saved paints on the left side of the palette.

SK9114 Step 37

The shadows on the floor are blocked in first. Textured brushstrokes are used, they will contribute to the feeling of the old, worn pavers. Notice the blues and greens at the most distant edge on each level. This makes the floor recede and “Lay Down”. Even the back edge of the front shadow is made bluer so it will go back.

SK9114 Step 38

After painting the lighter part of the courtyard floor the perspective lines of the irregular pavers are drawn into the wet paint with a fine liner brush. This is done freehand without using the mahl stick. It would limit the movement of my arm, making it difficult to draw the gentle curve of the tiles.

SK9114 Step 40

The rock wall of the planter in the foreground is painted in a similar sequence as the floor. The entire surface area is covered first, then the crevices between the rocks are indicated. I don’t completely outline each rock, I just want to give the impression of the old stones.

SK9114 Step 41

I LOVE fountains. That was one of the very first things we installed in our garden when we moved to our new home/studio. The burble and trickle of water is so soothing. Mixes of Viridian Green + Cadmium Orange + MUD + White are used for this water feature. The basic shape of the pineapple top is blocked in to begin with, then the criss cross pattern is drawn.

SK9114 Step 42

The water in the lower basin reflects up onto the bottom of the upper bowl. This is indicated by the rim of blue along the lower edge. The side of the fountain pedestal is made a little bluer at the base because the water also reflects onto it.

SK9114 Step 43

We’re done for this session. When the fountain is a little drier I’ll add the water cascading down. Do remember, you can enlarge any of the pictures by clicking on the image. Thanks for following along today! Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG