Archive for July, 2016


July 31, 2016


Max in reference photo

We’ll be working on Max this session…..

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The face is divided into three color zones. The forehead is more yellow, while the cheeks and nose are redder. This is because the skin is thinner in these areas, blood vessels are closer to the surface which causes the midface to be more red. The chin and lower face is bluer. It’s subtle in young boys but becomes more pronounced as beards begin to grow. I’m using the same paint that was mixed previously for Alex.

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The eyes are first blocked in with a dark mixture of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. If you would like to know more about our Double Primary Color Mixing System that Jack developed CLICK HERE.

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After finishing his sparkling eyes, mouth and lower face a little of the green from Max’s shirt is reflected on to the side of his neck. Please remember, you can enlarge any of the pictures by clicking on the image.

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The same mixes are used to paint Max’s hands. He was born in the Year of the Rabbit. So he’s holding his lucky Rabbit’s foot! I’ll finish the details on that later.

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The shirt is made of various combinations of Viridian Green + MUD + White.

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I have to make up the light and shadow patterns since there are no strong shadows in my reference photo.

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All right, Max and Alex are done. I went back and did a little more work on Alex’s face, as well as darkened his hair. Now, I’m happy with how both boys look. I sense Jack has been looking down from Heaven, peering over my shoulder and putting little tidbits of advice in my thoughts. My inbox continues to fill up with wonderfully kind words of comfort and stories about Jack’s giving heart. You don’t know how much this means to me. Thank you. Hope to see you again soon. BIG HUGS,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG


July 29, 2016

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My mixtures for the skin tones are all ready to go. #1. Cobalt Blue + White. #2. Cobalt Blue + Cadmium Orange + MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + White. #3 and #4. Different proportions of MUD + Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + White. #5. MUD + Alizarin Crimson + White.  #6. Mix #5 + more White. #7. Two shades of Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + White.

Alex in reference photoIMG_3909






Alex has changed his hair since the original photo was taken, so his dad sent a picture of the new cut. Ted affectionately calls Alex “His Imp” and remarked that his personality shows more in the second shot. OK, the challenge now will be to capture that “Impish” look in the portrait.

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After blocking in the lighter side of Alex’s face I paint his hair with mixtures of Cadmium Orange + Ultramarine Blue + White. MUD is added into the mixes for the darkest shades. The background is still pliable so I can keep the edges of the hair soft. I don’t want him to look like he is cut out and glued on the canvas.

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Light pours into the painting from the upper left, transmits through the clear cornea of Alex’s eyes and illuminates the lower right portion of the dove grey iris.

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The catch light is located at approximately 11 o’clock at the edge of the pupil, just under the eyelid. You never want to put the catch light directly in the pupil, your subject will look like they are on drugs. My wrist is braced against the mahl stick to steady my hand as I place the pinpoint dot. You can see this better by enlarging the picture, just click on the image.

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By using the technique Jack taught me Alex’s eyes are full of sparkle. We’re starting to see a little of the “Imp” in Alex.

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Alex’s face is completely blocked in. I’ll come back later and look at him with a fresh eye, then make any final adjustments that are needed. The navy blue jacket is painted with various combinations of Ultramarine Blue + Ivory Black + White.

Spirit Horse card

Ted thought it would be cool to incorporate the Chinese zodiac symbol for each family member. Alex was born under the sign of the Horse; so I’ve decided to embroider a horse on the cuff of his shirt. And what better one to use than the logo Jack designed when I first began painting! Since I was doing equine art he suggested calling my painting business Spirit Horse Studio.

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The horse is flipped and drawn into the wet paint of the light Cobalt Blue shirt with a mix of Magenta + Liquin.

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While the background is still a little wet I take some of the Viridian Green mix I showed in our last session and paint the edges of Max’s shirt. This allows me to keep them soft, which helps to give the figure the appearance of “Roundness”.

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Alex’s trousers are completed and we’re done with him. Opps! I just realized I didn’t paint the hand stuck in his pocket. Oh Well, guess I’ll have to do that in our next session. See you then. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

A Portrait Background

July 28, 2016

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The four blobs above #1 are my mixtures for the background. All are made of various proportions of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Ultramarine Blue + Ivory Black + a touch of Pthalo Blue + White. The other mixes are testing for some of the clothing. I want the clothes to be rich and intense, but need to make sure they work well with my background color. Don’t want any grinding clashes that will jar the senses! #2. Virdian Green + a little Pthalo Blue + White. #3. Pthalo Blue + White. #4. Alizarin Crimson + Cadmium Red Light. These make a pleasing combination, they may vary a bit when I begin painting the actual clothing but this gives me a plan.


VIDEO! The background is made very simple, I don’t want it to drag the viewer’s attention away from our main subject, the Risdalls! Since the light is coming into the portrait from the upper left that side is made darker. This way the light on the faces will be highlighted. Moving across the canvas to the right the background becomes lighter in order to accentuate their shadow side.

ANOTHER VIDEO! A Bob Ross Blending Brush is used to smooth the background.

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While the background is still fresh I pull strands of hair into the wet paint. This is much easier to do at this stage and gives a softness to the edges of the hair.

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The wash drawing is completely dry. This makes it easy to “Erase” any background color that went astray. All I have to do is take a clean brush dipped in paint thinner and wipe off the excess paint! You can see this better if you’ll enlarge the image, just click on the picture.

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And…we have our background. Thank you for following along. I’ll begin on the portraits in our next session. Big Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Wash In Continues…..

July 26, 2016

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I try a little different approach on Max by covering the entire surface of his face with a light wash FIRST. Then I come back in and establish the darker areas. It’s easier to work the shadows into the wet wash than it was on the dry canvas like I did on Alex’s face.

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I “Lift Out” the highlights on Max’s nose. This is done using a clean brush dipped in a little paint thinner. Dragged over the washed-in area the tip of the brush pulls the oil wash up, leaving the clean white surface of the canvas. You can see this better by enlarging the picture, just click on the image.

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Bracing against the mahl stick stabilizes my hand as I define Max’s mouth.

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I take the same approach on Ted, beginning by washing over his face with a lighter-value tone. Next the shadow areas are developed.

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The mahl stick is pulled out again to steady my hand as I delineate Ted’s lively eyes.

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Jennifer’s face is done in the same technique. Working wet-into-wet is easier for me. This is personal preference, some of you may like washing the shadows over a completely dry canvas.

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Jennifer’s cross is “Lifted Out” of the shadow wash on her neck.

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Our family is washed in and we’re ready to start applying paint in our next session. Thank you for following along today, hope you’ll come back soon. Hugs,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

It’s Great to be Back at the Easel

July 24, 2016

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you again for your loving support. Reading your heartfelt sentiments and anecdotes has helped me more than you will ever realize. Yes, we will all miss Jack tremendously, the chair at his computer is incredibly empty. But you know “Our Jack”, he wouldn’t want us moping around. If I did that he would come down from Heaven and kick me in the backside. Both he and God know my best medicine is Prayer and Painting. I’m blessed with A LOT of commissions to do, so I’ll be busy. I’m back at the easel today and does it ever feel good. A sense of normalcy has washed over my soul.

Risdall-DSC_5388 R Digital 2 small file

It’s truly amazing that the first commission upon returning to my easel is a portrait, Jack’s specialty. Over the 26 years we were together he taught me all of his portrait painting techniques and I know Jack is watching over my shoulder. The Risdalls visited our studio a couple of years ago; having met them I have a pretty good idea of each one’s personality. That helps when doing a portrait. The painting is going to be a surprise birthday/anniversary present for Jennifer! I’ll be working from a professional photo, Ted supplied me with a large digital file. That helps tremendously because I can enlarge the image to see the tiny details in the faces and hands.

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All four figures are first lightly penciled in on the canvas. You can see this better if you enlarge the picture, just click on the image. Next I begin blocking in the basic values with an oil wash made of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. Even though this is a very recent photo of the family, Alex the youngest son, has a new haircut. Ted sent digital pictures so I pop the image up on my laptop to use as reference for his latest look!

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At this stage I’m not worried about achieving a perfect likeness. I just want to get the canvas covered with the basic light and dark values. It would be difficult for me to paint the portrait on pure white canvas. I go ahead and block the clothing in too.

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After covering Jennifer’s dress, I begin on Ted’s jacket.

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Ted’s ensemble is blocked in, you can see I’m establishing the folds and shadow patterns on the clothing. Now, let’s move over to Max.

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We’re at a good stopping point for today. I’ll work on the rest of the faces in our next session when I’m fresh. Hope you’ll come watch the step-by-step process. If you would 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!

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

We Have a Date…….

July 20, 2016



On Friday, September 9 at 1 PM we will honor Jack White. Master Artist, Author, Teacher, Coach, Mentor and Friend to so many. Only God knows how many lives he has touched. The Celebration of Jack’s Life will be at Shepherd of the Hills Lutheran Church, located at 6914 Wurzbach Road in San Antonio. If you have any questions you may email me at


I hope you can come share in our love for Jack and celebrate the beginning of his new life in Heaven with Our Lord. We will see you again one day, my dear friend.

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG


With Heartfelt Appreciation

July 19, 2016

Jack & Mikki Meet Craig Luce 2002

It’s amazing how Jack has touched people’s lives. I’m sure the number is far beyond what any of us can imagine. Emails with stories of his generosity have come in from all over the world. Your words have been so comforting. Thank you seems so inadequate to express my heartfelt appreciation.

I’d like to share a poem by Henry Scott Holland that one of my collectors sent. It has really soothed my soul.

Death is nothing at all.

I have only slipped away to the next room.

I am I and you are you.

Whatever we were to each other,

That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.

Speak to me in the easy way

which you always used.

Put no difference into your tone.

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed

at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.

Let my name be ever the household word

that it always was.

Let it be spoken without effect.

Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.

It is the same that it ever was.

There is absolute unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind

because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.

For an interval.

Somewhere. Very near.

Just around the corner.

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it
was before only better, infinitely happier and forever we will all be one
together with God.

I take great comfort in knowing Jack is with Our Lord and no longer suffering. He is at peace and his heart is happy. Jack had said he DID NOT want a funeral and requested immediate cremation. But I am going to have a Celebration of his life. Originally I had thought on his birthday in March, but that is far too far away. So I’m working on a date in early to mid September. I’ll let you know the particulars as soon as we get them worked out. Big hugs to all of you for your heartwarming messages,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Our Jack White

July 16, 2016



Yesterday Heaven welcomed a master artist and amazing writer; Jack has gone home to Our Lord. At 83, Jack’s mind was sharper than ever but his body gave in to the ravages of time. Since a stroke 2 years ago he has been on blood thinners. The past few days they’ve whirled out of control, my best friend and mentor began bleeding. In the hospital he was given several transfusions and seemed to recover a bit. While under anesthesia, during a colonoscopy to discover the source of the bleeding, Jack vomited and aspirated the fluid into his lungs. His body gave out, Jack went into respiratory arrest and was put on life support. We decided long ago that if either of us had to be kept “Alive” with artificial means it was time to let go and let God take over. Yesterday we did just that; Jack’s last moments were peaceful and quiet. He is no longer plagued by a body that is suffering, no longer distressed by overwhelming feelings of helplessness caused by having to depend on me to do everything for him.

1a Early Fog (Tuscany)

I can imagine all of the artists in Heaven have flocked around him to learn from his vast experiences, get pointers on their work and discover the joys of using his Double Primary Color Mixing System. He is writing freely and happily, unencumbered by stiff and uncooperative fingers. Jack has helped so many of us here on earth. I know I would never have become the person I am today without him in my life. God has truly blessed me to have Jack as a partner for 26 years. We will all miss this talented man, his storytelling and infectious laugh. But as incredibly hard as it is to give Jack up I know he’s in a better place and whole again.


Thanks to all of you for being there for us over these many years. With love and hugs, Mikki and Jack signature JPEG

Vista of Joy

July 14, 2016

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As my long time readers know I love to garden. And Red Geraniums are some of my favorite plants. The rich blossoms are blocked in with mixes of Alizarin Crimson + Cadmium Red Deep, Cadmium Red Deep and Cadmium Red Light.

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The foliage is painted with mixes of Lemon Yellow + Pthalo Blue. A large Bright brush is used to shape the individual leaves.

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Silver Pony Foot Vine tumbles out of the terra cotta container. Mixtures of Cadmium Orange + Pthalo Blue + White make the delicate leaves and tendrils.

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Adding stems and flower buds finishes out our Geraniums.

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Now for the Canna Lilies. My large Bright brush is very versatile. It is perfect to paint the large leaves with mixes of Viridian Green + Lemon Yellow + White.

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The bright flowers are mixes of Cadmium Orange + Alizarin Crimson, Cadmium Orange and Cadmium Orange + White.

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The deep centers are delineated with Magenta.

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In order for White flowers to appear WHITE, the shadows parts of them have to be fairly dark. So I use combinations of Dioxazine Blue + White, Ultramarine Blue + White and Pthalo Blue + White. I kind of “Smoosh” the colors together in order to make happy shadows.

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Pure White illuminating the petals of the African Daisies pop against the shadows of Blue and Lavender. Then I make the red and black centers of the large blossoms. Please remember as you read through my blog, you can click on any of the images to see them larger.

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Hollyhocks fill the corner by the door. I use several mixtures of Magenta + Permanent Rose + White to block in the crepe papery flowers.

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Leaves are made of Pthalo Blue + Lemon Yellow + Cadmium Yellow Medium.

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After putting in the deep centers of the Hollyhock blossoms with Magenta, the Lemon Yellow stamens are added.

SG1916 Vista of Joy 24x30Vista of Joy    24 inches by 30 inches

We’re DONE! “Vista of Joy” will soon be off to it’s new home. Thank you for following along. AND…..I appreciate all of your prayers and kind comments more than you will ever know. Please keep them coming, Jack is still in the hospital. With Love,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG

Wispy Wisteria and Italian Tile

July 10, 2016

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Wisteria is one of my favorite vines. Seems my collectors like it too, much to my delight I get to paint it quite often. Here are my color recipes……..#1. Four shades of Dioxazine Purple + White. Sometimes I have to pull out some special paint colors, Dioxazine Purple is one of them. It’s a clean, crisp purple that I’m unable to achieve by mixing with our Double Primary Palette. #2. A trio of combinations of Dioxazine Purple + Ultramarine Blue + White. #3. Mixes of Pthalo Blue + Lemon Yellow + Cadmium Yellow Medium.

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First the blossoms are blocked in with a large Bright (square) brush. To see this better, just click on the picture to enlarge the image.

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Then I paint the foliage around the masses of purple. The greens are used to help shape the long, dangling flowers.

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The last steps are to highlight the leaves and individual petals of the wispy blooms.

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Wisteria……done! Now let’s move to the Italian tile floor. The entire surface is first covered, establishing the light and shadow pattern. Strokes of Ultramarine Blue + White are added toward the back to indicate the reflection of the sky on the wet floor. A summer shower has just passed through! These blues also make the tiles in the distance recede.

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Perspective lines are drawn into the wet paint of the floor. This is done freehand. I can’t use the mahl stick here. It would limit the movement of my hand, keeping me from making the lines straight.

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Next the horizontal lines separating the individual tiles are delineated.

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Sunlight streaming across the floor makes the edges of the wet tiles sparkle, so we’ll highlight them. Some of you have asked about the blue tape. It’s 2 inch painter’s tape we get at Home Depot. I use it to cover and protect my White Senkarik Signature Frame. When the painting is finished I’ll peel the tape off and SHAZAAM! A clean, white frame appears!

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The painting is really starting to come together. We’ll be planting in our next session. Why don’t you grab some gardening tools and you can come help!

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I’m frequently asked what my palette looks like at the end of the day. Well, here you go. LOTS of color laid out on the glass. But I can’t leave it like this….

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I want to start the next day with a clean surface. So I save the paint, lining up the colors on the left side of the palette. That way if I need to go back and work on any area I don’t have to remix any paint. I can just pull some from the little dabs. The blobs of oil paint will be usable for several days, long enough for me to finish the piece on the easel. The mixing area of the palette is then cleaned with a paint scraper.

I have a special request, Jack and I need your prayers. He’s in the hospital. Since he had a stroke 2 years ago he’s been on blood thinners. They’ve gone a little wacky and he’s had some internal bleeding. His doctors are working to find the source. Hopefully they’ll have this resolved soon and Jack will be back home again. He’s champing at the bit to get back to working on his latest book about Thomas Jefferson. We trust our doctors and know God has us wrapped in his arms. Jack and I are so blessed, we have the best readers and collectors in the world. Thanks to all of you. BIG  TEXAS HUGS,

Mikki Senkarik signature JPEG