Archive for October, 2016

Painting the Live Oak

October 31, 2016


Still “Painting Forward” I begin on the next layer of the landscape, the distant oaks. These are made without a lot of detail so they will fall back. The part of the Bluebonnet field in the distance is just roughed in to give me a “Ground Line”.

VIDEO! Painting the majestic Live Oak Tree. In the spring the oaks are covered with pollen, making them turn a warm, grey green. Of course those who suffer from allergies don’t like this season, but I love the way these incredible trees look. Nice thing about paintings, our collector can enjoy the spring color of the oak without any sneezes. The foliage mixes are different combinations of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + White. I add a bit of Cadmium Yellow into the lightest mix to highlight the areas of the massive tree’s canopy that are illuminated by the sun.


I still have a little more to do on the large Oak but I want to get the Bougainvillea blocked in before the sky gets too dry. The tile roof is painted first so the Bogie can cascade over it.


A special color is pulled out for the Bougainvillea, Permanent Rose. The brand I use is Winsor Newton WINTON. Mixed with White it is perfect for the hot pink bracts of this prickly, but beautiful, plant.


The leaves are made of another color that is not normally found on our palette, Viridian Green.


That’s our painting for today. Hope you’ll come back and watch the next session, I’ll be working on the Bluebonnets! HUGS,

Sun Brushed Clouds

October 29, 2016



Let’s get to painting on the sky! My color recipes are #1. White + a tiny touch of Lemon Yellow + Pthalo Blue. #2. White + Pthalo Blue. #3. White + Cobalt Blue. #4. MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + White. #5. MUD + a little Cadmium Red Light + White. #6. Mix #5 + a bit of Cadmium Orange + more White.


The blue field of the sky is painted first. The Cobalt Blue mix is used mostly at the top edge of the canvas. Since the sun is coming in from the left the upper portion on that side is made with mix #2. Then the lower part of the sky nearest the Live Oak Tree is blocked in with the #1 mixture.

VIDEO! The clouds, brushed by the warmth of the sun, are painted wet-into-wet into the blue.


After finishing the sky I “Paint Forward” by blocking in the most distant hills. Mixes of Ultramarine Blue + a little MUD + White are used. By making this hill bluer it will fall back. This follows a simple rule of giving the appearance of depth in a painting: Cool colors recede. Warm colors come forward. When he first started teaching me to paint, Jack wrote this statement out in large letters and taped it on my easel. You will see as the painting progresses, it really works!


The next bluff, covered with scrub oak, is painted with several mixtures in different combinations of Pthalo Blue + Cadmium Orange + White + a little MUD. This makes cool grey greens that come forward of the blue hill in the distance but will still remain in the background. White is added into the mixes for the rocky hillside. Brushstrokes of Ultramarine Blue + White are made here and there to bring additional coolness to the oaks and ground.


I decided to make another hill, in between the two. This was easy to do. I just painted it in, over the blue, with some of the color from the foreground bluff. By working wet-into-wet, the blue underpainting cooled the color. So the middle hill is warmer than the distant blue one, but cooler than the one in the front. As Jack would say, “That’s your little lesson for the day!” BIG HUGS,

Texas Oaks and Bluebonnets

October 27, 2016


I’m beginning another commission! We are taking the Live Oak, Bluebonnets, Pansies, Sunflowers and Geraniums from this painting.


Then we’ll incorporate the Arch, Steps and Bougainvillea from the piece above.


So here is my sketch. The commission will be on a 30 inch tall by 36 inch wide gallery wrap canvas done with our White Senkarik Signature Frame. The actual size of the painting is 24 inches tall by 30 inches wide.


I’d like to show you our painting setup. My easel, palette and taboret are all on wheels, making it easy to configure the setup to fit any size piece. I work under daylight corrected florescent bulbs which guarantees my lighting is always consistent. This is a fancy four bulb fixture that we had our handy man install. BUT….when we were on the road we used two bulb shop lights, suspending them from the ceiling of the apartment or hotel room with eye bolts and chains. When we left we filled the tiny holes in the ceiling with spackling compound and no one ever knew any better!


The basic architecture is drawn on the canvas first with a thin wash of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. If you will click on the picture to enlarge it you can see our White Senkarik Signature Frame. The blue painter’s tape protects the area around the painting so I don’t get any paint on the frame. When I’m done, the blue tape is pulled off, revealing the clean frame underneath! The outer edge of the frame is wrapped with shrink wrap, keeping me from getting any fingerprints or paint on it.


My collector was thinking about having a couple of the containers either blue or teal. So I’m going to wash them in with a mix of Ultramarine Blue + Pthalo Blue + Liquin to give Deb an idea of how they would look. This is just an initial wash in, they can always be changed later.


A Prickley Pear will be planted in the rectangular container behind the blue ones.


Now I draw in the Texas hills and majestic Live Oak in the background. We had several of these oaks at our previous home. A tree expert told us they were over 300 years old. I wish those massive trees could talk, can you imagine the stories they would tell?


Flowers are labeled so I don’t forget our initial plan! I’ve certainly been known to do that when I get painting. Sometimes it seems like the brush takes over and I just hold on. Who knows what will happen then! Thanks for following 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!


Life on the Road

October 26, 2016


Jack and I were NOMADS for over 10 years. When we met I had never traveled much, so Jack suggested that we go live in places people visit on vacation. I was still doing Medical Illustration at the time, as well as painting for a couple of galleries. Jack was also painting. The galleries and publishers didn’t care where we lived, as long as they received illustrations and paintings when they needed them! We got rid of all of our stuff except necessary papers and tax records. Stored those and then everything we needed fit in or on top of our Ford Explorer, LILY!

This was taken on arrival at the Motel 6 in St. Augustine, Florida. That was the best we could afford at the time. We would unload our stuff in the small room, set up and get to work. Then in the evenings we would explore our new hometown!


When we got ready to leave St. Augustine we were headed up the east coast; heavy rains were forecast. So Jack made a HUGE envelope out of a tarp. Then loaded all of our “top of the car” stuff in it. Of course our theme song was Willie Nelson’s ON THE ROAD AGAIN. When it came on the radio we’d belt it out at the top of our lungs. Glad no one could hear, we were awful. If you like to look at any of the pictures larger, just click on the image.


Here we are packed and making one last visit to the beach before driving north on I-95! It’s funny, I can look at the load and remember exactly where we were. The loads were always different, depending on the art supplies we had at the time of pulling up stakes and heading down the road again.


Ready to leave Galveston, Texas to head east to Cocoa Beach. Galveston was a fun place to live, we had a loft studio on the top of an old, historic building overlooking the Tremont House and the Strand in downtown. All the parades went right under our windows, Mardi Gras was incredible! Our six months in this wonderful island community went way too fast. The big round bundle hanging over the front windshield is a beach inspired comforter we purchased there. We may have been nomads but I wasn’t ready to give that up!


After staying on the “Space Coast” of Florida for a while we started west. We were going to California. But when we stopped in Midland, Texas to get gas Jack said, “Let’s stay here for 6 months”. At first I thought he was nuts, I had never considered Midland a Vacation Spot! But stay we did and it was one of my favorite places, the people in West Texas are incredibly friendly.  We set up in an unfurnished condo, using cardboard boxes for tables and folding chairs to sit in. After unloading all of the crates, we put them on the floor, put two doors down and purchased a mattress to go on top of them. That was our bed. When we left we gave the mattress to Good Will, the little bench to our neighbors who had become good friends by then and headed out to California.


Finally, California. Seaside, right near Carmel. We leased a home on Monterey Bay, right on the water. Talk about amazing. The waves were massive, we could watch grey whales feeding out our studio window and listen to sea otters cracking abalone shells! It was a dream place, but so cold.We had to bundle up to walk on the beach. Jack and I are warm weather people, so after several months enjoying the Pacific Ocean we decided to go to Long Boat Key, right off the coast of Sarasota, Florida.


This was taken on another trip in Lexington, Kentucky. We spent a week at the Kentucky Horse Park before going to Louisville for the Derby. We didn’t have a clue how sleazy this motel was when we first arrived. After getting the car unpacked and all set up we found it fascinating that people were in and out of rooms quickly. I had to go to the office for some extra towels, there I saw a man and woman renting a room. I overheard them tell the desk clerk they only needed the room for two hours. He quite calmly said, “OK, here is our hourly rate!” OOPPPSS! But since we were already unpacked and there were no other rooms available in town we decided to stay. We had no problems, I think every one thought we were crazy artists and left us alone! Jack was proud of his packing job, also I have a feeling he was glad to be leaving our temporary home!


During all of the years we were together Jack and I would analyze the sky as we drove. What colors we’d use to paint the sky in different circumstances, paint mixtures, etc. Many times when the sun spotlighted a cloud he would remark, “Wow, the view from up there must be incredible!” As I was brushing Sissie yesterday morning the clouds were dark, then the sun came out and lit up the top of just one. I know God brought out His laser beam to highlight this cloud. I have a feeling He was showing me exactly where Jack was, enjoying the view and basking in His light. I waved and blew Jack a kiss. Just thought you’d enjoy sharing in some wonderful memories! We’ll be painting again in our next session. With BIG HUGS,

Splash and Matt

October 24, 2016


One of the things I love about painting portraits in oils is you can come back later and smooth the color transitions. Working in acrylics doesn’t allow this because they dry so quickly. And…if you’d like your oil paint to stay workable even longer you can add a tiny drop of clove oil to the mixes. I’ve not done that, the regular drying time of oils works well for me.  I put my laptop on the palette and enlarge the photo of Matt. This allows me to compare the two images and get his likeness as close as I can.


Next I’ll complete the Chicago BEARS logo on the collar. My wrist is braced against my mahl stick to steady my hand as I delineate the letters. You may click on the image to see it larger.


The brim of the ball cap is highlighted so it will POP forward. Matt looks like he could be a professional baseball player doesn’t he?


Matt’s arm is blocked in so I can paint the White on Splash’s tummy. A light grey is used, I don’t what the white down here to take attention away from Splash’s face.


Matt’s arm and hand are painted with less detail for the same reason. His and Splash’s faces are the focal point, if the hand and fingers were highly detailed they would detract. The ends of the fingers are made a bit bluer so they will “Turn” around Splash’s body.

sj2916-splash-and-matt-19x16Splash and Matt        19 inches tall by 16 inches wide

The final touch is to add Splash’s name tag! It’s funny, I could hear Jack’s voice in my ear as I’ve been working on this piece. All of his advice and teaching over the years has been floating though my mind. How fortunate I am to have been able to watch and learn from a Master Portrait Artist. Thanks for following along, I’ve enjoyed having you! And please remember, ALWAYS feel free to ask questions. With BIG HUGS,


Blocking Matt In

October 22, 2016


Or should it be Blocking In Matt? I’m not sure which is correct so we’ll just move on to my paint recipes for his skin tones! #1. Cerulean Blue + White. #2. Two shades of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + more Ultramarine Blue + Cadmium Orange + White. #3. MUD + a touch of Alizarin Crimson + Cadmium Red Light + Cadmium Orange + White. #4. A couple of mixes in different proportions of MUD + Cadmium Orange + a tiny bit of Ultramarine Blue + White.


We’ll begin by painting Matt’s neck, making his Adam’s apple less prominent. Next the shadows on Matt’s face cast by the cap are established. The light is coming from the upper left so his forehead, upper nose and the side of his face on the right will be in the shade of the cap’s brim.


There will be a tiny bit of light on the cheek where the sun passes over his nose and illuminates the cheek bone. The lighter areas of Matt’s face are almost blocked in. The face is divided into three zones. The Forehead is lighter and a bit more yellow. You won’t see that here because of the cap. The band across the ears, cheeks and nose are redder. The skin in these areas is very thin, the blood vessels are close to the surface which makes it more red. The lower face is bluer because of facial hair, especially in men. Matt is very fair, so he doesn’t have much of a Five O’Clock shadow. But his face is still a bit more blue in this area.


Now for Matt’s hazel eyes. I’ve made 3 shades of a mix of Sap Green + a tiny bit of Cadmium Orange + White. The eye on the left is finished, I’ll explain the steps as I paint the one on the right. The pupil is painted with MUD + Liquin, the I cover the entire iris area with the darkest shade of my green mixture. You may click on the image to see it larger.


When the light coming in from the upper left strikes the rounded cornea it makes a pinpoint highlight at 11 o’clock. Then the light is transmitted through the cornea and illuminates the iris on the opposite side. So I make a crescent with the middle value green on the lower right portion of the iris. Then the very center of that crescent is highlighted with the lightest green.


The last step of Jack’s technique of painting eyes is to add the pinpoint highlight on the cornea with pure White. Notice it is placed at the edge of the pupil mostly in the iris. You don’t want the catch light actually in the pupil, your subject will look like they are on drugs. And don’t trust your photo reference on the catch light. Most photos are taken with several light sources, showing multiple highlights in the eyes. Look at Rembrandt and John Singer Sargent’s portraits, that’s where Jack learned how to paint eyes. And, I’m really glad I didn’t go with the Sage Green background, it would have been so similar to Matt’s eyes they would have gotten lost. With this background Matt’s eyes sparkle and stand out.


Now we’ll block in the lower portion of Matt’s face.


We’re done for today. I still have work to do on Matt’s face, it is just roughed in at this point. I’ll come back in the next session and finish him out. Thank you for following along today. Again, I want to thank all of you for the love and support you’ve extended to me. I’ve enjoyed hearing your memories of “Our Jack”, they bring smiles to my heart. You don’t know how much I appreciate each and every one of you. BIG HUGS,


Painting Splash

October 18, 2016


Splash’s coat is painted with several different mixes of Ivory Black + White. The highlights will be different from my reference photo because the light is coming in from the upper left. Therefore the right side of his face, as he is looking at us, will be in shadow.


His collar is a deep wine, burgundy color. It won’t show much but that little pop of color under his chin adds interest to the painting. I’ll come back later and do Splash’s tag.


Splash’s moustache is a little warmer than the rest of his fur. Right now this is my under painting, the whiskers won’t be nearly as brown when I’m finished.  Also the hair under his nose needs to be darker.

VIDEO! Jack always said the eyes are the soul of the portrait and taught me his special technique for painting them. Come follow along as I paint our sweet fur baby’ eyes.


Splash is pretty much finished. I may need to come back and glaze the white on his chin, it might be too bright. I’ll get the rest of the canvas covered and then decide. I didn’t put much detail in the hair on his front legs, I don’t want them to pull attention away from his face. If you’d like to see this or any of the other pictures larger just click on the image. We’ll begin work on Matt in our next session. HUGS,

Painting the Background

October 17, 2016


Mixtures of several different proportions of Sap Green + Ultramarine Blue + a little Pthalo Blue + Ivory Black + White are made for the background. The values range from dark to light. Renee and I had originally talked about more of a sage green background. But as I studied Splash’s coloration I felt he would look  better against bluer tones.

Oh, I am so frustrated. SILLY ME…..I forgot to focus the camera before I began recording my video of painting the background. But fortunately you can still see it well enough to follow the process. Since Spash is so dark I paint the area behind him lighter. The background darkens toward the right side of the canvas to accentuate Matt’s skin tones.


I block in Matt’s turtleneck while the background is still wet. This allows me to keep the edges soft. I want everything on the lower portion of the canvas to kind of fade into the background. This way the viewer’s gaze will automatically be pulled to the sharper, more detailed areas of Splash’s and Matt’s faces.


I do the same with Splash’s lower body and keep detail to a minimum. While the paint of the background is completely pliable I go ahead to establish his entire outline, feathering the edges of the hair on his front legs, ears and head.


Keeping all of the edges soft avoids the appearance that our subjects have been “Cut Out” and placed against the background. Enjoyed having you visit our studio today, hope you’ll come back soon. HUGS,




Jack’s Speciality

October 15, 2016


Starting on a portrait today, Jack’s specialty. I’m so fortunate that he was always the coach and teacher. When Jack had a portrait commission he would explain what he was doing and why as he worked. Our easels were set up side by side so I could just look over and see his painting. This piece has been commissioned as a surprise for Matt, the gentleman in the photo. He’s holding Splash, their dear furbaby who is now in Heaven.


The first step is to lightly draw my subjects on the canvas in pencil.


Next I begin washing Splash in with a thin mix of MUD (Ultramarine Blue + Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. In the photo his eyes are just red dots where the camera flash reflects off the back of the retinas. So I have to “make up” his eyes. Jack has a wonderful technique for this which I’ll explain in detail when I actually paint Splash’s eyes. Please remember as you read though my blog, you may click on any of the pictures to see them larger.


Splash is roughly blocked in, now we’ll focus on Matt. His face, arm and hand are covered in a light wash. Then I come back and establish the shadow pattern on his face. Flash photography flattens the subject, there is no definite light source. The old Masters painted portraits with the light coming in from the upper left, that’s what I’m going to do. SO…I’ll just make up the shadows. One thing Jack and I did was study and photograph shadows, we have lots of reference I can refer to.


Matt is a Chicago Bears fan, his turtleneck has a tiny BEARS on the collar. Renee especially asked me to make sure that is in the portrait.


The initial oil wash sketch is finished. This is not meant to be an exact likeness at this stage. I just want to get the canvas covered in the basic values to give me a guide to follow as I begin applying opaque oil paint. Thank you for following 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!




October 13, 2016

So many have asked, “How are you doing?” You don’t know how much your love and concern is appreciated, I consider all of you my friends. Well, I have my moments but overall I’m doing much better. One person wrote, “Do you talk to Jack?” YOU BET, ALL the time! It’s funny, after being a caregiver for 8 years it took me awhile to figure out what “I Wanted to DO!” Now I’ve gotten into a regular routine of painting, walking and gardening. Plus several friends are making sure I get out and about. God has so blessed me with wonderful people like you in my life. It really has made this time easier. I have such fun memories of Jack’s and my years together, plus knowing we will be reunited again in Heaven one day gives me peace.


Fortunately Jack taught me to live one day at a time, not allowing uncontrollable events to blemish our calendar with a black X. When we first got together he said, “Mikki, we may not be able to control what happens to us but we can control what we do about it. Just because something bad happens we don’t have to let it ruin our entire day. Let’s make up our minds to have NO BAD DAYS.” You can imagine our delight when we found this T-shirt in St. Croix.


And….. we had to get the matching tote bag as well!  Our philosophy is being put to its greatest test. Oh, how I miss him, but I can’t even mark a black X on July 15, the day God took Jack home. How could I when the love of my life is whole again and experiencing the glory of being with Our Father in Heaven? God has a new path for me and I feel Jack’s legacy of helping artists now rests on my shoulders. I’m here for all of you.


I decided to make this sign of one of Jack’s Whiteisms, “Today is a GREAT day to have a GREAT day!” For those of you who haven’t read his Art Marketing Books, his words of wisdom are sprinkled throughout the manuscripts under the heading WHITEISM. I must see this at least a hundred times a day, it helps me to stay upbeat and positive.


Also have this picture on our refrigerator. Now….how can you look at this without smiling? It was taken when we lived in Midland, Texas; we picked up the pinata at a roadside vendor. Jack named it “Fluffy Pinata”! SO….. HAVE A GREAT DAY! BIG HUGS,