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.

Following directions.


Here is an updated picture of Joan’s goats.001


When you are drawing with graphite, color pencils or any other medium tools always follow the direction of the forms. Look at the following pictures below; notice the direction of the goat hair and draw it in that direction. .001003002

Notice the direction of the chin fur or hair.  Pressing with the “B” graphite pencils such as a 6, 7, and 8 Bs. will allow you to see realism sooner rather than later. If you draw in values of 5,6, 7 H range you will not see realism in your drawing. It will be flat with not much blending of forms and shapes. Do not be afraid of using the B pencils which are cool in tone and will “go Back into” in space. If you are having trouble using the higher B pencil because you are afraid or just do not understand how to use them I suggest practice sketching with a few higher numbered B pencils. For example; use a 6, 7 and a 8 B pencils and draw a few simple shapes such as a sphere, a square, an apple. Use the number 6B as the lightest in the three range. Getting over your fear is the only way to break through to realism.

Watercolor study.

This watercolor study by Joan is fruit and learning watercolor 101. In watercolor there are layers of color in a building process to produce realism. Depending how many layers you add and how controlled the layers are depend on how far you want the painting to be realistic. Here are several steps to reach this point of realism 101. I will add more pictures as this painting develops. Once the background is painted in the colors of the fruit take on a different appearance in hues; look at previous pictures and notice how the fruit colors change in appearance. Adding shadows will ground the work so the fruit don’t look floating in space. The box is a deep purple which plays nicely with the fruits.

Watercolor will usually stay and follow a wet surface, if you wet a section of paper the watercolor should stay in the wet areas as a rule.  Painting on damp paper will give you a bleed mark or the new color will blend into the other. It is important to play around with paint to see how the control works for you. If you stop in mid stroke the color will build in that area and will not be a solid line or stroke. If you want a solid section then keep pulling a one stroke move.

In this final watercolor 101 Joan did a nice job painting. In watercolor 101 there are about four layers of color to build an object. Next watercolor is on the way being drawn and I will post updates.

So far the table grain was made by painting the a warm sepia brown over a damp surface painted in the same color. First paint the common color with a wide brush. If you look in the upper left section in the above picture you can see how Joan was painting from the box, apple and pear  stopping when painting in the sepia on the first layer. If you stop and don’t pull the color all the way through you get a line/band or heaviness of paint. If you don’t want a band of color make sure to pull the strokes all the way to the edge or off the edge of paper.

Now notice the brush in the bottom picture the brush is older and has stiff bristles. Making the paint a bit thicker or same stronger richer hue drag the stiff brush across the surface to make the grain lines . Follow the pattern the first main layer that has been put down.

The grain lines are not in the picture below.  Fuzzing the shadows of the grapes working wet on damp paper will help the shadow blend the edges. The shadows from the objects should ground or start to ground the objects.

************Look at the next two pictures and notice how the color of the grapes change in the following picture compared to the picture after this one. Just adding a background color changes the entire appearance. Think about how and what color will change the environment.


When starting grapes remember to look at the shapes and placement of each grape. How they are attached to the vine. Actually get grapes and examine how they really look. Paint them as spheres in values as you drawn in graphite. Remember to keep highlights in place to relationship to the light source. This watercolor will end up being wc 101, the next study will be 102 level with much more detail and realism. Each added layer of watercolor usually demands more controlled strokes, even dry brush techniques.

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.

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.

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.


Here is my newest watercolour painting. I named it, “Dad, Hold Still!” It measures 17 x 28″.

I still may go back add a bit here and there. I want to let it rest for a day or so. I see many tiny mistakes…..awe. I still want to bring the blue up into the sky.

Juried shows.

I have a post somewhere on my blog regarding entering juried shows. It is not as hard as you may think; not anymore since digital land. Juried shows can cost anywhere from an average of $9.00 to 30-40 dollars an entry. Usually if you enter two – three entries it may be around $75 to enter. Most show I have seen lately you enter a digital image at a certain size of usually 1000 or a bit more pixels. The rules on the show page will have a required size in the rules. Follow the guide to what they want. You will need a credit card to enter and pay for your image[s]. Follow the directions. When entering I like to enter at least two paintings for the reason the judges see my range of style and control of watercolor. Entering one piece is good when your artwork is spot on and hits the high mark being able to stand strong solo in composition and all the elements.  Some artwork needs to be seen in a series of three if the subject matter is similar in content and similar compositions. If there is not a strong compositional range in the work, then I like to enter three images of close subject matter. For example; say you paint flowers up close in a size 9 x 12. One painting or drawing is not strong enough or large enough to stand alone. Not every case, but for the most part. It leaves the viewer or judge thinking it just can’t make the cut because it needs just a bit more to take it to the next level. But, when you put three paintings together similar in content they enhance each other in content and become a strong entry. It is usually three or five in a series. After five it’s time to move on and expand your artwork to something else so you’re not repetitive.

When taking your best picture I photograph outside under my porch. I have true natural light with no cast shadows. The natural light is usually crisp and I get a true color read. NEVER photo shop your imagines…..you will be disqualified. If you make the first cut you may be asked to physically bring your artwork to place where your work will be displayed and judged. Some shows they judge solely on the digital images. Find a show that fits your artwork and go for it!

Here is a list of a few magazines that list shows and on their sites there will be a listing in the competition menu or event menu. You can find these magazines at Barnes and Noble bookstore or another bookstore in your town.

www.artistdaily.com, www.artistmagazine.com, www.watercolorartistmagazine.com, www.baltmorewatercolorsociety.org.

American Artist Magazine, American Artist drawing, Watercolor Artist, The artist magazine,and International artist. 

Prismacolor.com also has a gallery to display your artwork, sign on and create your artwork gallery. You can look at other artist as well and share tips and recieve feedback too.

Color theory

Remember when you are painting or using any medium with color that warm colors and tones will automatically come towards you in space. Any cool tone shade or color will go back in space. It is the Law of the land; the way God designed it and that principle can not be changed and altered as hard as some artist will try. If you know of an artist that has had sucess in this please email the name so I can view this for myself.

Dark colors asborb all color and white reflects all color. With the absent of light there is darkness. It is only when you add “Light” will the color show through. Even in black and white mediums there are several blacks and whites shades of color. For example Ivory black is warm tone, Lamp black is cool tone. Use this principle to enhance your work. To see these values get a piece of paper and paint the colors out marking which one is what. Look at them closely; warm tones shades will come towards you in space as darks go back in space.


Here is a way to contain all your brushes in one neat spot. This is bead holder found in the jewelry department. I am sure you can find one on-line. It is a Bead Bellishment Bench by ArtBin, I found this at AcMoore art and craft store. All I did was buy sand from the Dollar Store and added about 60% in each jar leaving the lid off. Added my favorite brushes and it works wonderfully! My brushes are not as long as oil brushes can be, they are watercolor brushes mainly. As you can see in the picture it really works well. I guess you could use beans, rice or tiny beads instead of sand, but sand works. I like this because I can see where the brush I want easily and I don’t need to put a brush cover on any. When you are traveling with your brushes DO NOT just throw them in the bottom of your bag! If you do not have anything to contain them at a quick moment at least roll the brushes up in a paper towel. If you don’t want to buy anything, at least use a paper towel cardboard tube; simply roll the brushes up in a paper towel and stick in the tube. You can find many tube like structures to use around the house. In the Dollar stores you can buy a straw table place-mat which will allow you to stick or weave the brushes through the straw and roll the mat up.