Archive for November, 2015

“The Slew”

November 30, 2015

SK4815 step 29

Seattle Slew! I begin with the Black and Yellow silks of Tayhill Farm. The jockey, Jean Cruget, is adjusting his saddle making certain it’s secure for the race.

seattle slew 1

Many people think “The Slew” was black. Actually he was a deep, dark bay as you can see in the photo of him in the 1977 Derby.

SK4815 step 30

Various mixes of Burnt Umber + Ivory Black + White are used to paint the amazing colt. A few strokes of Ultramarine Blue + White are added on the point of his off shoulder to make it fall back. On a horse the left side is considered the Near side, while the right is the Off side. You always mount a horse from the near, or left side.

SK4815 step 31

Painting the Snaffle bit and bridle brings back fond memories of my “Horsing” days. I spent many an hour saddle soaping various items of tack. I can almost feel the soft leather against my fingertips. And getting a new bridle was quite a special occasion indeed.

SK4815 step 32

Seattle Slew is finished. His handlers are having a difficult time holding the colt back, he is ready to run! If you’d like to enlarge any of the pictures just click on the image.

For your enjoyment I’ve included a VIDEO documentary on Seattle Slew. It’s about 45 minutes long but well worth watching. Thank you for following along today. In the next session I’ll be working on Citation, do come watch. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Starting to Paint……

November 29, 2015

SK4815 step 23

First, I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Jack and I appreciate all of your sweet comments and wishes for the holiday. Now it’s time to get back to work. I begin with the distant trees behind the covered saddling stalls. I use cooler greens made of various proportions of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + White. A few brush strokes of Ultramarine Blue + White are made to add even more coolness to the background. As you read through my blog please remember, you can click on any of the pictures to see them larger.

SK4815 step 24

Now I “Build” the saddling stalls. The back wall has windows with wrought iron rails in the openings. Allowing some of the distant trees to show through helps give depth to the painting. The stone arches are made with mixes of Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + White. MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) is added into the mixtures for the darker shadows.

SK4815 step 25

It’s springtime in Kentucky, Dogwoods abound. I’ve got my colors all mixed and ready to go. #1. White + a little lemon yellow + a touch of Pthalo Blue. #2. White + a bit Ultramarine Blue. #3. Ultramarine Blue + White. #4. Dioxazine Purple + White. #5. Mix #4 + White and a smidgeon of Cadmium Yellow Medium. #6. Two shades of Pthalo Blue + Lemon Yellow + White. #7. A couple of mixes of Ultramarine Blue + Lemon Yellow.

VIDEO: Blocking in the Dogwoods.

SK4815 step 26

The Dogwoods are completely blocked in and the trunk is added. You can see how the darkness of the trees in the background accentuates the creamy blossoms of this spring favorite. My plan is for the light color behind him to set off Secretariat’s head and alertly perked ears.

SK4815 step 27

Standing sentry over the paddock is a stately Sycamore Tree. This tree was just a tiny sapling when the track was built in Lexington in 1936 and is an enduring symbol of Keeneland horse racing tradition. The silvery bark of the trunk reminds me of a dappled gray horse!

SK4815 step 28

The Sycamore is just beginning to push small leaf buds out on the fingers of its long branching arms. Come fall the Keeneland icon will be covered in brilliant foliage, making the autumn race meet even more colorful. But now we have the subtle beauty of the delicate Dogwoods gracing the lovely paddock. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

A Day for Thankfulness

November 25, 2015

2015-11-25 Front entry

THANKSGIVING……The calendar sets aside one day a year for giving thanks. But Jack and I are thankful for each and every one of our friends like you, all 365!

We also want to express our appreciation to all of those in the Military and Police Forces who keep us safe. We know you make incredible sacrifices in order to protect us.

God has so blessed us. Have a safe and Wonderful Thanksgiving and….GO COWBOYS!

Mikki and Jack signature small JPEG


Sketching Citation and Seattle Slew

November 24, 2015

SK4815 step 15

Today I begin working on Citation, another triple crown winner. I’ve decided to make the numbers on the saddle blankets the ones the horses were racing under when they won the Belmont, the third leg of the Triple Crown. You can see I’ve changed Secretariat’s  to the numeral 2. Citation came out of gate 4 when he won the Belmont.

SK4815 step 16

Citation knows the race is imminent. His jockey, Eddie Arcaro, keeps the big bay with tossing head and rolling eyes under control as he circles the paddock.

SK4815 step 17

The groom is having to step along pretty quickly to keep up with Citation! Please keep in mind as you read through my blog, you can enlarge any of the images by clicking on the picture.

SK4815 step 19

In the background Seattle Slew is having to be held back by his handlers. These horses know they will soon be flying at full speed around the track at Keeneland.

SK4815 step 20

Now I draw in Citation with the oil wash made of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin.

SK4815 step 21

Jean Cruguet is adjusting his saddle in preparation of the race.

SK4815 step 22

The oil wash sketch is complete. I’ve shortened Lucien Laurin and his assistant who is saddling Secretariat. I’ll begin painting in the next session.


But before I close for today I want to let you know our publisher is offering a special promotion just in time for your early Christmas shopping. You can save 20% on any of our books in PRINT. Unfortunately this doesn’t apply to the e-books. All of Jack’s art marketing books are available under this offer.  All you have to do is enter the promo code HOLIDAYS20 when you check out. The offer is good through Midnight on Monday, November 30.  CLICK HERE to go to our book store, make sure to check out all four pages.


This special offer also includes Jack’s newest book, ABRAHAM LINCOLN! Just remember to use the promo code HOLIDAYS20 at checkout. Thanks for following along! Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Sketching Lucien Laurin and Ron Turcotte

November 22, 2015

SK4815 step 12

Secretariat’s trainer was Lucien Laurin. Here he’s going over some last words with Secretariat’s jockey, Ron Turcotte, before the race.

SK4815 step 13

Ron’s silks are washed in with the same Cobalt Blue + Liquin mixture that I used on Secretariat’s blinkers.

SK4815 step 14

After getting the wash in finished I realized I made Lucien a little too tall. One of my astute readers did also, she sent a comment reminding me he was no taller than a jockey. Cheryl is absolutely right, Lucien was a jockey in his younger days in Canada.

Secretariat Lucien Lauren 4 ron turcott

Here is a picture of Lucien with Penny Chenery (Tweedy) and Ron Turcotte. Secretariat’s trainer is a bit taller than Ron, who was also from Canada. I’ll make the adjustments before I do the finished painting of the famous trainer.

secretariat 9

Cheryl also mentioned that the trainer usually saddles the horse. Again she is correct, my dilemma was I didn’t want Laurin’s back to the viewer. So I decided to have his assistant trainer, Henny Hoeffner, saddle Secretariat in my painting. I found this picture on, he’s in the yellow cap behind Secretariat. I’ll make him a bit shorter too. Then Laurin and Turcotte could anchor the lower left corner of the foreground. It’s a cool spring day at Keeneland, perhaps an old back injury caused by a fall in a race is bothering Lucien and he trusts his assistant with the saddling duties. But rest assured, I’m certain Lucien will check the girth before Ron is given a leg up! Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Sketching Secretariat

November 21, 2015

SK4815 step 6

The building and trees in the background are sketched with a brush dipped in an oil wash made of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + a liberal amount of Liquin. Even though many of the archways of the curved saddling shed will be covered by trees or horses I draw all of them in. This way I can make sure the architectural proportions are correct. Please remember as you go through my blog, you can enlarge any of the images by clicking on the picture.

SK4815 step 8

As I was planning the sketch for this piece Jack and I watched American Pharoah win the Breeder’s Cup Classic at Keeneland. That is how Pharoah is spelled, the owners misspelled it when they registered him, it has remained that way. I knew David was also watching and zipped him an email asking who his three all-time favorite race horses were. His reply was almost instantaneous, “Secretariat, Citation and Seattle Slew.” SO…..I had my horses for his Keeneland painting. Let’s start with Secretariat. Drawing him with the oil wash I decided to move him a little to the left so he won’t be so close to the edge of the canvas. You can see the shadow of the pencil sketch.

SK4815 step 9

A wash of Cobalt Blue + Liquin is used to delineate the distinctive blue and white checked blinkers of the Meadow Farm Stables owned by Penny Chenery. It’s funny, I’ve always associated Secretariat with Claiborne Farms but he never raced under their silks. He stood at stud and was later buried there.

SK4815 step 10

Eddie Sweat was Secretariat’s regular groom, I definitely wanted to include him holding the big red colt.

SK4815 step 11

Secretariat and his handlers are roughed in, tomorrow the sketching will continue. Hope you’ll come back and watch. AND……If you’d like to receive an email every time I publish a new post you can 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! Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

From Squirrels to Race Horses

November 20, 2015

One of my readers came up with a terrific solution for our SQUIRREL WARS! If you weren’t aware of our battle just CLICK HERE. But back to Fran’s VIDEO, it had Jack and I rolling on the floor with laughter. We definitely have to get one of these horse head feeders. Thank you Fran 🙂 And Charlene, I always throw some extra seed down on the ground especially for Mr. Squirrel!

SK4815 step 1

I couldn’t have a better lead in for my next collaboration. My collector lived a good portion of his life in Lexington, Kentucky, home of the beautiful Keeneland Race Track. This piece will go in his “Man Cave” along with other horse racing memorabilia. I’ve been so excited about this commission, those of you who have followed my career know I started out painting horses. To paint the Keeneland Paddock, buzzing with activity just before a race, is a dream! It was so fun going back through all of our race horse reference to plan the composition. The pen and ink sketch is shown above.

SK4815 step 2

The painting is going to be 24 inches by 36 inches. How do I transfer this complicated sketch to the canvas? Well……here is the answer. I make a grid on a copy of my sketch. I don’t use the original, it will be given to my collector as a gift with the painting. The grid is quite simple, first I draw a diagonal line, using a ruler, from the lower left to the upper right corner. Then a corresponding diagonal is made connecting the other two corners. That establishes the center of the sketch. Next both an upright and a horizontal line are made, intersecting that center point. Each quadrant is broken down into a grid using the same method.

SK4815 step 3

A grid is drawn lightly with a pencil on the canvas following the same system. To see this better you can click on the image to enlarge the picture.

SK4815 step 4

I begin sketching the subjects up on the canvas. I start with the figures and horse in the foreground. The grid helps me get them in the proper place.

SK4815 step 5

Now I draw the people and horses in the background, making certain they are in proper proportion to the ones in the foreground. The pencil sketch on canvas is done. The rest of the background will be drawn with an oil wash in our next session. Hope you’ll come watch. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG



November 18, 2015

Jack’s newest book ABRAHAM LINCOLN: His Dark Side Exposed is now available for sale. Just in time for your Christmas gift giving!


That’s Jack’s painting on the cover! And….. as a special for all of our readers, collectors and friends you can save 20% on ABRAHAM LINCOLN: His Dark Side Exposed until Thursday, November 19 at midnight. Just enter the promo code PRESALE20 when you checkout.

Do your shopping early and avoid the crowds. This would make a wonderful Christmas gift for a special someone in your life. Or maybe even you!  CLICK HERE to go to our bookstore page. Just remember to enter the promo code PRESALE20 when you checkout to receive the 20% savings. BUT don’t linger, the special savings ends tomorrow night at midnight! Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG



November 17, 2015

2015-4-25 Fountain courtyard from ramp 2

Jack and I love feeding and watching the birds that visit our garden. We regularly have Finches, Blue Jays, Mockingbirds and our Cardinals, Mr. and Mrs. Chippers. As winter approaches we’ll soon start seeing brilliant yellow Gold Finches. The feeder in our fountain courtyard has a weight sensitive perch so doves and squirrels can’t devour all of the seed. They are limited to what drops on the ground. An ideal situation for our feathered friends. You can click on the picture if you’d like to see the image of our fountain courtyard larger.

But that Mr. Squirrel is cagey, he figured out how to steal seed from our smaller feeder in the kitchen garden. So we put our thinking caps on and came up with an idea to make a baffle out of a clear Tomato Juice bottle. This should work, watch the VIDEO to find out.

Drat! That little toot got to the seed. Jack said I think if you could find a way to anchor the lower edge of the bottle to the cross bar of the feeder he couldn’t get down on it. So I cut slits on either side of the bottom and slipped them over the cross bar. The baffle won’t move, PROBLEM SOLVED. You can see in the VIDEO.

We fixed that little fella. Until I walked into the kitchen and looked out the window……….

GRRRRRRRRRRRR! Jack said, “This is WAR!” Then he went on eBay and found our solution.

Squirrel Wars 4

A large, flat baffle. I wish I could have seen the first time Mr. Squirrel tried to get on the feeder. Must have been a hoot! All I know is he no longer steals all the seed out of our feeder. He politely stays on the ground and eats all that dropped by the birds. But I do have to admit, I miss his acrobatic antics. And that’s the news from Jack and Mikki’s garden. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Silent Sentry

November 15, 2015

SK4715 Silent Sentry Step 14

Sage is planted behind Roxie; its darkness will accentuate the sweet Dalmatian. You can enlarge the image by clicking on the picture.

SK4715 Silent Sentry Step 15

Next the snow is completed. Notice how I’ve made that nearest the door a cooler blue made of Pthalo Blue + a touch of Ultramarine Blue + White. Moving to the middle ground mixes of Ultramarine Blue + White are used for the shadows. Then in the foreground a little Dioxazine Purple is added to the Ultramarine Blue + White mix. This makes it warmer, following that simple rule: Warm Colors Come Forward, Cool Colors Go Back. Surprisingly it works even when painting snow. A darker mix of the Ultramarine Blue + White is used for Roxie’s path of deep paw prints. Pure White is used for the sunny highlights on both the snow and snowman.

SK4715 Silent Sentry Step 16

Roxie is painted with the same warm whites I used for the birch trees. To refresh your memory, they were made of Ultramarine Blue + a bit of Cadmium Orange + White. This makes her stand out from all of the surrounding cooler Whites. Ivory Black is used for the Dalmatian Dots. I just had to add a heart shaped tag hanging from her collar!

SK4715 Silent Sentry Step 17

I’ve never painted a snowman before, it’s fun! The base color of the plaid muffler is Viridian Green + White.

SK4715 Silent Sentry Step 18

The Cadmium Red Deep stripes are carefully “Laid” on top of the Green. This is so my brush won’t pull the underlying Green into the Red, making it muddy. Cadmium Red Light is used for the highlights.

SK4715 Silent Sentry 14x14Silent Sentry        14 inches by 14 inches    Original Oil Painting

Gold stripes finish out the warm muffler. Roxie glances up at the Owl, a Silent Sentry keeping a watchful eye over everyone below. I’ve really enjoyed this piece, it’s neat to paint something a little different. And don’t you love all the special touches Jeana has added? Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG