portrait painting



Oil painting is easy when you have knowledge about drawing forms. Realism in any medium is about layers and lighter layers of building forms. I will add more on this later, don’t have the time now, but stay tuned. This is titled, “The Un-sent Letter”. It is about a young woman sitting getting ready for her wedding day. She is holding a letter she never sent to an old love. It is about life decisions and “Letting Go” of the past’ heart wrenching. There will be several clues painted to add to the story, which line up with my recent photography. More to come.

Learning to see.

Learning to see the details around you; what a leaf or tree for example looks like when you are standing next to it versus  how a tree or the detail of a leaf look in comparison farther away or distance. Take the time to look and notice color and how the color changes and the details or realistic details slightly become unfocused as they go back or a way from you in distance.

I advise you to start thinking about color or graphite in values [one to ten; light to darkest]  for all colors as well as grays/blacks. Are they warm or cool in tone? Warm tones will come forward in space and cools will sink in space. The way God designed it, not an artist trick.  Think about how color fades in distance and lack of detail in landscape.

Don’t worry so much about the name of the color printed on the tube of color, look to see if it is warm or cool in tone and where would you use it on form, shape etc.


002So far Rose was able to get this far. The wall needed to be separated or to look as though there are two walls. Painting the wall coming towards you in a few darker tones allows the bend to take place. Adding purple to gray paint will allow a natural recess in distance space.

The problem with acrylics is they dry extremely fast. Unless you are looking for fast drying paint then you are in luck, but for artist that need more blending  from the paint then try to use a blender extender in the paint. The extender has a shine to it though even when dry. So, play around first to see the results for yourself. In the following pictures these are Rose’s acrylic painting she wants to finish from years ago. The problem can be in matching tones and values of the colors used in another time. It can be done if you can read value and tone in color. I suggest using glazes to add the realism. Use this technique for oils as well. If you try to match existing  colors you most likely will be repainting the painting. This is where I can teach you to improve your artwork.

Okay, lets break it down:

1. Use the blender extender to equal parts to a paint color you want to use. You can use water but the color will dry flat and a value lighter.  For example;009

We worked on the bottom of the urn. we added a thin layer of a terra-cotta color with blender mixed in a shade darker than the urn. You can even use two shades darker to start to shade and develop depth to create more form or realism. So the darker color went into the cracks and around the sides of the urn. The value of the lightest will be on the highest closest part of the form and the values will reverse in paint; lightest to darkest in value and color.

REMEMBER:  the dark values are towards the back/sides or the parts of the forms that are the most far from you. Anything cool tone color will sink in space and appear away from you. Light values will come towards you in space. This is physics, law of the universe and the way God designed it!

In the above picture you can see a shine which is the blender. It does settle a bit once completely dried, but you can steal it once dry with a protective  acrylic spray and the blender wont be seen. In the  picture below look closely at the bottom two leaves against the urn. These two have been glazed with paint and blender to start to create form and shape of the leaf itself. Look at the upper leaves they are flat and need realism. Stay continued to see this painting develop.


TIP: You can place a wet paper towel over the paint, cover with tin foil and place in the refrigerator. Should last a good twelve hours.

TIP:  If your canvas becomes rippled because of being sketched from leaning on something all you need to do is water the spot on the back and use a hair dryer to tighten up canvas. That should work, may need to do twice.

Working on emotion.


Remember to practice the value scales in graphite or color. See what the mediums can do for you and how it can be used in your artwork. Look through the recent postings for examples or use the search box on the menu.

Here I am working on emotion in Life drawing. I like this pose, it was a 15 minute pose. For some reason I see dispar in her eyes. I am connecting to the sadness I guess? The proportion is wrong and foreshortening, but I was concentrating on the face. Her head is too large for this pose, But I like it. Life drawing is about learning proportions, angles and weighted objects and many more aspects related to drawing. Keep drawing even if your work doesn’t look like you imagined. Keep pressing through, you will see improvement after one filled newsprint pad.

Value scale in black and white as well as color.

I0/24  I am going to start an entire new series of black and white watercolor paintings and hopefully paint at least three, maybe five. I have been working on b/w portrait photography and actually starting to reap some valuable results. I also will post progression pictures so you can follow along skill techniques. If you want to follow and paint with me then I suggest taking a b/w picture or changing your color picture to b/w. I am going to draw it out today. Remember, you can not paint well in anything until you learn to draw. The value scale principle is Key to learning to see values, color etc. Once you learn and understand how to draw using value ranges, then start with a b/w painting medium. Each medium has a certain amount of ability and or content that it can do; learn what the medium can do for your style and skill level.  Transforming from a wet medium in b/w gradually adding color will be an easier transition and you can take your knowledge of b/w values into the next stage of painting strong compositions.


In the search box on the menu bar you can find post that you may want a subject in and maybe I will have something written there. I can’t stress enough how important it is to practice the scales in graphite and color. You need to take the time and make a value scale for each graphite pencil and a range of color pigments.

Make a scale with ten boxes one to ten; first box is white and the tenth box is the darkest you can get the graphite or color to be. The fifth box is a #5 or middle tone between one and ten. The rest of the boxes two to four gradually get darker to reach number five. Six to nine get darker from number five to reach the tenth box. You want to see what each pencil or color range is and how you can use each in your artwork.

Look though my post regarding value scales and the information should help you. You must know how to draw before you can paint. You need to understand the elements of drawing; line, form, shape, color, texture, value and space. How each of these elements relate to each other and stand on their own. Composition and light are key to a strong piece of artwork.

You want to practice perspective exercises such as drawing a sphere, an egg shape, a square, rectangle, cone and any other shape that expresses a solid form. Create a strong light source and notice the cast shadow as well.

Email me questions with pictures that you are having trouble with and I will see if I can help you. Also practice life drawing skills with charcoal and newsprint. I write about this often; draw someone when on your lunch break if you can sit outside. Draw a person in your life…..even if sleeping in the chair. Draw 3 minute poses, then five minute poses and then ten minute poses. Charcoal will help you smear to shade the figure.

You can do it! You need to start somewhere. Pictures from on-line.

Watercolor techniques

There are amazing watercolor techniques out to try, here are some.

There are several artist that work with the results of one or all of these techniques in their work; it just takes time to try each way and figure out how the results work for you. Sometimes it is fun to play with these following techniques and see what the picture or painting turns into. It is a freer style way to work and can be very relaxing if you are just painting and enjoying the style. If you need a still life to work from I suggest a subject matter of nature; a daisy, a flower, a glass vase or a stream with rocks. Make a sketch on wc paper of a landscape and apply each technique to the individual parts; wax paper to rocks etc.

1. Use scran warp from your kitchen; take a piece of plastic wrap and pull at both ends until it is tightly stretched and lay it over a well wet surface with the color already down on your paper. Press the wrap down and you will see the markings it begins to make. Let it there on the paper for a few minutes, once the paper has dried a bit remove the scran wrap. You should have ripple type markings that work well for water and a wave effect.There are two paintings in this shot, the aqua painting on the top is upside down. Look closely at the scran wrap and see how it is pulled or sketched at the ends to create the wave shapes. Leave the scran wrap on for about a good half hour. Play with the design as well; press down the wrap and move it around.

2. Freezer paper works for a pointillism or a speckled look. Tear the freezer paper into pieces and lay the torn pieces down onto wet colored watercolor paper. The shape of the torn paper will be the design left by the freezer paper.

3. Wax paper works in the same way freezer paper does. Freezer paper gives you a more solid design because it is thicker than wax paper. Excellent look for rocks, dirt and ground. You want the freezer paper and wax paper to be flat on the colored surface.In this picture Kaitlyn is adding torn pieces of wax paper to create rocks. Fill in all the spaces and where the paper is seen you can paint in some darker colors or darker value of brown if you want to stay within the same color or hue. In the section where the green is that is the glaze wrap. Glaze is tricky to work with; put a lot of color down because the cotton glaze will suck up the paint. Add the color first and keep the paper really wet with colors. Add color after the glaze is in place as well.

4. Glaze cotton wrap works very well for landscape; trees, bushes. Wet your paper and place the glaze flat on the paper and then color. Leave until the glaze starts to dry. Remember to put down a lot of pigment.

5. Epsom salt will give you larger burst of whiteness and design vs, table salt. A larger salt granule will give you a larger burst. Place salt onto a wet surface of color, let dry and brush away salt.

The techniques will define themselves into shapes to work from. Go with the results! Use what the techniques have provided you and look at the results and use the results to enhance your painting. Experimenting with the techniques and evaluating what each one produces and how it can relate to your artwork will take a little bit of time to figure out how you can incorporate them into your work. Have fun!Kaitlyn’s masterpiece!  For the first time working with these techniques the painting is Fabulous! Way to go Kaitlyn!!!

Painting with Pudding!

Every artist does struggle either with drawing, painting, finding their Nitch, the subject matter, style techniques, approach, subject matter, composition, light source, realism vs. expressive and impressionism. The list is a mile long!  Finding your way with your art is a life long process of discovering new ways on an art that is old as time. It can be very frustrating and if you really want to be an artist you need to press through and keep pressing! You art will define itself if you keep pressing through. Sometimes artist don’t create for years at a time; which I think will set you back in quality. The idea is to keep working and the artwork will become stronger all the way around. You may even be healthier and happier as a result. Eat a piece of cake……like I do!

Have you ever thought when you look at a picture of yourself from way back when and think “What was I thinking!” laugh at the way you looked? Then you even thought you looked darn good then too boot! Art is the same way…..we get better with age, our style improves over time.  This is the second year that I have been going to Life drawing once a week and it has been so beneficial for me. I must have who knows 500 plus hours of life drawing under my belt to this point; the difference is I am not in a formal professor class now. I am in a life drawing for pleasure and my satisfaction of wanting to draw. You must Love your art enough to push through and hang on for the ride. Don’t think when……”When I retire, when I have another job and when I have more money”! Take and make the time at this very present to enjoy what you love to do. Life is too short not to enjoy your time now. There Never will be enough money,,,,,there are always bills to pay. It’s like a parent thinks, “Oh when little Joe gets to first grade and is in school all day I will have the time”. I know….I had three kids and have been there. Talk about not having time for myself and my artwork. I have learned the hard way on a few things. It is hard as a Super Mom to walk away from a pile of laundry that needs your attention and I struggle with all of these issues. I have come to the conclusion if I don’t take care of myself nobody will!  I need my artwork to complete me and be happy. Plus, if I am happy I can deal with everything and everybody else with a better attitude.

There is always the issue of time and not enough time to get the artwork done or get involved in artwork as we’d like. A great way to include the little ones let them paint with Pudding! Yes, Pudding! Put the kiddies in the high-chair and let them finger paint with pudding! Doesn’t matter if they eat it, not like paint. They will love to see their work hanging up on the box and take a few pictures for future reference of artwork to be and enjoy the moment God gave ya!  It teaches the older child they are important too and they feel good about themself. It’s a bonding moment. It gives you an hour or two to work on your own artwork. It works well outside in the hot summer and then you can turn the hose on and wash off the pudding.

Getting back to artwork; Not every drawing is going to be what you have envisioned or meet the expectation you have set for yourself. I suggest focusing on graphite drawing along with life drawing to begin. You need to know how to draw and learn value, form, shape, line and light. After you get a handle on that then introduce another medium such as a paint medium. Even start a painting in black and white. This way you are taking a strong eye of value into the first paintings. Introduce color after value is learned in black and white. Drawing one subject such as a pear for example is a good way to get yourself familiar with a paint medium. Masterpieces will happen after at least twenty paintings into one medium.

Learn to read what your art is telling you? Do you work meticulously defining tiny one stroke lines, do you like to draw in blurred shapes or do you like your artwork tight or realistic? Look at or examine your first few pieces and find the common thread amongst them. That will be the first clue to what you are good at, your strengths or what “Your Artist eye” is seeing. Work with your strong points, go with it. Use the common thread or common strong suits  to make your work stronger. Every artist walks a journey discovering their artwork. You can only watch how other artist work for so long without working yourself. Don’t worry how other artist do it! Start doing it yourself and discovering your own ways and approaches.

It will help you to keep an art journal, sketches if wanted. Write or jot down what you find interesting and would like to draw. For example; you see a cat in the window and find that interesting or think it would make a neat drawing. Write it down. In the events of your life that influence the art you produce. It will help you to make the connection between your life and your art.

I know it can be hard, but don’t make it harder on yourself by taking on too much too soon. Work on what makes you happy, the rest will follow. Work at what you want your art to say about the artist. I will write more on this subject….I have three people yelling for dinner! My work is never finished or my time isn’t always my own neither!

Okay, I am back.  I know finding time is not always easy. I also know If you are miserable all the time the going through will suck! Try to make the best of it everyday. Here is a secret, we are not promised tomorrow. So, if your everyday sucks then get out of the other side of the bed. Get your focus off yourself and go volunteer at the hospital, help a neighbor or an older person neighbor. Get your sites off yourself and help someone else with something. It is only a season in life, time will go and come. Stop feeling sorry for yourself and think you are the only one that can’t create their art. Seasons change all the time. Do what you can involving your art and the day will come you have more time. Gather the information you need to create your art. If you don’t have actual painting time, gather the pictures you will need for a painting. Use the time you do have towards something productive; this way you are still involved in your art. Not every artist creates seven days a week!  Sometimes an artist doesn’t feel inspired to create.  Keep moving forward and eventually there will be more time to fit everything in you’d like.

My friend Carlos and I were talking one day in the darkroom about how you don’t know if you don’t try. Here I am in my 40’s, working in a college environment {the old lady in the classroom} feeling sort of out-of-place and old….Carlos pointed out how far I have come in a year of just working at my art! I was doing so much more this year vs. last year. So, image where next year will take me? It’s all about there is a new season and seasons change all the time.

Made an artist.

Just when you think you understand and have a grasp on “My art” the universe has a different idea. I have a habit of saying I am a portrait artist, but I really need to open those borders by saying painting portraiture is my love. Maybe I should stick to “I am an artist”.  I had a recent artwork where I needed to paint landscape and I actually loved painting the scenery. Who knew and the landscape actually came out very well.  I find amongst artist friends each has a speciality and style which they stick too; I do not want to be typed into one or few categories. Anyway, another life lesson.

I will be adding a new piece to my gallery soon….a new category to my experience. :}

Improving your skill level is important if you want to better your artist ability; keep Life drawing. Life drawing is key to improving your skill level. Even if the only access you have to a model is drawing Grandpa sleeping in his old chair than sketch Grandpa. You can not advance to the next level if you do not have strong fundamentals in drawing; you need to know how to draw what something actually looks like in reality [realism] before you can change form for a stylized art. Keep sketching during a lunch hour; watching people walking by or a co-worker. A sleeping family member or maybe someone in your family wont mind sitting for you for a  few minutes. Use charcoal and newsprint which will allow you to sketch quickly and shade in values in a short five minute pose. You can do it! Let me know how you are doing.

Thanks once again to the comments I receive; some are “eye brawl” raising and interesting, most are kinds words which I truly appreciate.

Hitting the wall!

Yesterday an artist friend and student of mine were taking about when as an artist we “Hit the wall” when painting or drawing or whatever medium it is. This particular brain freeze of where to go next? How do I put the background in or where do I go from here? It can be a question and answer of simple as skill level needing to be developed and there is the “Hitting the wall”. Most times artist want to give up at this point, but DON”T! This is a crucial time of learning, the art juices are flowing. Press through and don’t put the artwork away and think you will come back and finish because that time usually never comes. Sit the artwork aside for a few days but continue to view the artwork and let the composition speak to you. Let the artwork speak to you and see what parts bother you or figure out what just doesn’t look right. Sometimes I do Not like to show anyone my artwork to a certain stage and I respect that, but someone may see something you do not. A constructive critique is key to any artist.

For myself when painting this last watercolor of the kids in the pool I found myself “Stuck” on what to do with the background. I love painting in realism in any medium, but I also need a balance of subdued color or style for a happy balance in composition. The problem is getting there. I see other artist works that I know I have the same skill level of realism, but how they achieved the balance is a learning process I need to work more in. Watercolor is an ideal medium for loose wash techniques and most artist paint watercolor in that style, but I don’t or have a hard time of breaking free from controlled layers of color or photo realism. This is where Life drawing helps with timed poses and self teaching of “Letting go” from adding too much realism. It’s funny because I have artist friends that tell me they wish they could paint watercolor like I do and here I am wanting to paint looser. Go figure. I don’t think it is has to do with not being content on how I paint I don’t want my compositions to speak “seen it” already. Artwork can become seen and done it, Next! There are some artist that paint and their skill level is amazing but the artwork is steal after twenty paintings completed the same way. That is where I am at, I think? The car watercolor before this pool painting I don’t mind total realism through out because the composition is strong. There is the happy balance once again. Being an artist is a struggle, especially when emotion is attached. That is what an artist is made of, a bag of emotion trying to escape through paint. Add life, experiences in life and it reflects in our artwork and how we have a need to create through all these experiences. Maybe it is growth in our work? It is what makes us accomplished artist? Instead of thinking about it and never really have the answers of these questions being asked through-out time it is best to pick a brush and work it out! Will I get there eventually? I think so, but artwork is never really finished. I guess the finished artwork or when I call it finished relates to where I am at that particular time in life. Too profound today with unanswered questions. Time to pick up the brush, put some Neil Young on and paint…….:}

Thanks for reading to the bottom [lol], I do read all the comments and I have to say some are crazy! Not exactly sure where they are coming from and please try to keep them to yourself. I need to add video as some have suggested, I still need to figure out how to get the flowers files out of scrapbook program. I am not the sharpest tack on the board but I have tried all that I know how to do on this computer. Anyway, if anyone knows please email the solution. Thanks.

watercolor and water….

Saturday: I did paint a bit more and I have come to the conclusion that this wc I won’t be able to rush and place in an upcoming juried show. There just isn’t enough time to finish the way I’d like. If I rush then it will not host the skill level I wanted respresented. There will be other shows……awe.

This is how far I was able to get so far today. Now I need to come up with a background….I have something in mind  just need to draw it out.