Saturday, December 21, 2013

Getting Organized


12 Days of Christmas - Day 9

Leslie's blog is tips from different artists about organization.  It is just loaded with good ideas.  The tip I included was organizing paint tubes into plastic bead boxes, something I included on an older blog.  There is a good prize for the winner. I'm hoping to win this one.  


Good Luck to everyone who enters.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

12 Days of Christmas

Tips for the studio

Leslie Saeta is doing a "12 Days of Christmas" on her blog.  I missed Day 1, but  to enter for Day 2 just include an a tip that you use in your studio to save time or helps in some way.  There is a prize if you win best idea.  My entry is the tip about using old socks to keep brushes clean while painting. 

Even if you don't enter, it is  loaded with ideas that are time savers, ways to be organized......

Thank you to Leslie, once again.

Here is the link to Leslie's blog:

Christmas Tree Farm
Happy Holidays

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Abstract Painting

December 4, 2013

I tried something new with an abstract painting and I like this approach. 

First, I did a contour drawing of guess who, my favorite model, Ziva.  Of course I will include of photo of her, well, at least a painting of her. 

Very loose drawing of Ziva, sort of a contour drawing with dark and light shapes.  (She is sitting next to me on the couch, our favorite spot every night.  The dark area is the back of a chair.  Can you see Ziva?  oops, there is a shadow in the photo that should not be there.

This drawing gave me something to use as a start for the painting and it motivated me because it included Ziva. 

I used some of  the colors that I liked from the abstract painting of the boats that I did recently and included most of the shapes from my drawing.  Do you see Ziva here?  It actually looks best rotated once to the left, but I still know Ziva is there. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Abstract Painting

December 1, 2013

Recently I mentioned in a blog that I have read and many teachers have said:  "under every good painting is a good abstract painting."   Then I asked  myself  "what is a good abstract painting?'

That is what I have been trying to figure out in the past couple of years.  I've always liked abstract paintings, but didn't really know why so I signed for a class several years ago about how to paint an abstract painting.  Before that in a class I took at VCU in studio painting the teacher happened to be one who painted primarily in abstracts and she gave us a class lecture one day of an overview of the history.  I was very intrigued by her work, too. 

My own idea was that design had to be a big part of it.  I kept a list of the elements and principles of design taped to my easel when I did my first big abstract.  I figured that had to be a big part of it. 

My next blog will be about what I learned in the class I took about abstract painting.  I started a pinterest board with abstracts and have included the link

link to pinterest board Abstract

Update on marketing:  In the last month I opened an ETSY shop.  I've enjoyed learning about it.  It does seem like a great option for selling your paintings.  I stumbled across the ETSY mini which you see on the sidebar of this blog.  If anyone knows how to make it fit within the column, I would love to hear it.

I added free shipping and a 25% off coupon in time for cyber Monday.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

More about pet portraits

November 20, 2013

Steps for painting a pet portrait

Yesterday our class topic was painting pet portraits.  I am so proud of their paintings.  This was the first time they painted animals.  Great job!

They did such good drawings.  We were just about the start Step 2.

Step 1 - The Drawing - covered in the last blog, but can be summed up in one word:  MEASURE

Step 2 - Color Mixing -  even though most dogs and cats are shades of brown, black and/or white, there is a lot of color mixing going on for these paintings.

My approach:

 mix several values of the general hue

mix two temperatures of each value

then depending on the value of the dog I create four more piles of paint to have on my palette of red, yellow and blue plus one pile of the complement of the pet's color mixed with white.  If the dog is a dark color you would use darker values of RYB. 

The colors on bottom left  are for a brown dog (the photo on my monitor make the lightest value look too orange.)  The white demonstrates the brushwork, pulling the brush to the outside. 

 The reason I have the RYB and complement available is to be sure to include variety in the fur color.  For each brushstroke, I mix a little of  one of those piles, otherwise the fur looks flat. 

For example,   on the light side of a white pet,  not only would I consider the temperature, but also include some variety with RYB and the complement.

You can see some of this going on in the photos especially in the last blog's photos. 

BRUSHWORK -  to create the look of fur brush from the inside of the form to the outside leaving soft edges and letting the brushstrokes show creating the look of fur.

Last bit of advice:  maintain the darks even in a white pet.  Beyond light, middle and dark, keep the dark accent color and there may even be a fifth value for a highlight.


Here's where having a good photo is important.  I have done commissions where the photos given to me had "red eyes".

-show transparency in the eye by using a lighter color on the bottom of the iris and include a little shadow under the eyelid plus add a highlight at the end.

Bottom of the eye shows transparency of the eye and shadow under the lid

Monday, November 18, 2013

Painting the same subject more than once.

November 18, 2013 - "under every good painting is a good abstract painting".  I have heard and read this many times. 

Doing the same subject in different ways is another piece of advice from teachers I have had.

The idea for the first boat painting came from a landscape class I took when the teacher talked about how the abstract shapes pull the design together.  The DVD by Quang Ho really emphasizes the importance of shapes in a painting.  

I was looking at one of my older paintings based on abstract shapes and thought why not try it with the emphasis of color since I love color.  Here is my experiment. 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pet Portraits

I've really gotten into doing pet portraits again.  They are such good subjects, all different shapes and sizes.  Also, I've been working on my drawing skills and this helps. 

Yesterday's post included the sketch of a black lab.   I finished the final one and here it is. 

The secret to doing a pet portrait is MEASURE MEASURE MEASURE. 

-the distance between the eyes
-the distance from the eyes to the top of the nose
-the size of the head
and more

-use horizontal and verticals to line up the eyes, nose and ears


I do a pencil drawing first, sometimes a watercolor, then a sketch in oils and the final painting.  If the measurements are wrong, sometimes two sketches. 

(in case you want to start painting your pets, I'll put my sketches and drawings at LibertyTown Arts Workshop on the wall by my easel and you can see the steps.)    

 I toned the canvas with lots of bright colors and let some of it show through. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Dog Portraits

I've been working on some dog paintings lately.  One is a sketch that needs a lot more work, one a finished portrait and the third is a small painting of my dog, Ziva.  I've done so many of her, but I like this one the best. 


sketch, still working out lights, drawing needs work, ways to go on this one

Monday, November 11, 2013


Challenge Exercise from Daily Paintworks

The challenge by Carol Marine was definitely worth doing.  To get the 4 studies done allowing 10 minutes each made me pace myself and keep to the basics.  I like the last one the best.  Here's the link all the entries including my own.  LINK TO CHALLENGE - yesterday's painting of pear. 

I  put all the exercises/lessons so far on the pinterest board "Learn to Paint".  They are all on the blog, but with pinterest at least they are organized in one place.  (link on sidebar)

24 x 30

Just to include a photo - recent painting experimenting mostly with edges and going for abstract shapes.  

Sunday, November 10, 2013


November 10, 2013

I was looking at Daily Paintworks this am and thought I would check out the latest "Challenge".  I try to do these as often as I can.  It looks like such a good way to practice doing big brush strokes and getting them in the right place.  Here is the link: CHALLENGE  I'll post mine tomorrow. 

(This photo was taken with my husband's camera, Cannon Eos,30D. I had to read the book to learn how to use it because it is so complicated. Does it look any better than usual?  Plus I used the color adjustment on picassa for more accurate color. 

 Here are a few of the painting I put on ETSY.  So far I only have 10 or 11.

  As soon as I get to 25, then I will mention it in my newsletter and include a coupon.  If you want the coupon code it will be "THANKU25" (25% discount).  I'll go ahead and activate it.  Two sold, but I thought there would be more activity with "Views".   I think maybe you have to advertise within ETSY.  Maybe in December I will try doing that.     With Daily Paintworks, ETSY, Pinterest, and FACEBOOK I am at my limit of things to track.  Painting is what I like to do best so beyond this it would definitely interfere with time to paint.   If you are going to start a business, I think FACEBOOK is a good way to start, then try Daily Paintworks.  It is an education  and inspiration to look at the work of so many talented artists on that site and a great motivator to paint as much as you can. 

I finally figured out how to link DPW to ETSY.  It took me a week.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Experimenting with Temperature

# 11 Temperature

This is an exercise I did with my students to demonstrate how temperature, the use of warm colors and cool colors is a big part of painting. 

We painted the same  subject using cool and warm colors in as many ways as we could think of doing. 

Even the backgrounds played a part in the examples.  Which one do you like the best?  Look for the example of warm light, warm shadow and even warm background.  There is a lot of personal preference, the subjectivity of art, but thinking about how temperature plays into a painting is what this exercise is all about. 

Which one is cool light, cool shadow?

Which one is predominantly warm in light with a touch of cool?     Cool in shadow with a touch of warm? 

Which background do you like the best?

Points to remember:  (The way I paint, if you look at my paintings you should see warms and cools used in the following way, at least I hope so because I try to do that because I like the variety it creates. 

The type of light used makes a difference in the choice of temperature.  Outdoors the sun creates a warm light and coolness in the shadow.  Indoors, depending the type of light bulb you use in the spotlight, the light can be cool and the shadows warm or just the reverse.  If you don't know the color of the light just pick either warm or cool then paint the opposite in the shadow. 

I like to include warms and cools in both light and shadow.  If the shadow is warm, I will add a little of the same value but in a cool hue.  Most of the shadow shape will be one or the other with just a small addition of the opposite temperature.  It goes back to VARIETY as a strong part of a good painting.  The shadow or light will be predominantly one or the other with just a hint of the opposite temperature. 
Another good exercise:

When mixing you colors and values, challenge yourself to make a warm and cool version of the same color and value. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Learning to Paint -

November 3, 2013

SO MUCH TO LEARN - one of the things I like about painting, there's always more to learn.

I just invested in a three part DVD by Quang Ho.  I'll include a link to his site.  The first DVD is called "Nuts and Bolts" and is packed with so much outstanding instruction for a beginner, an intermediate or an advanced painter.   PUT THIS ON YOUR WISHLIST (link to Quang Ho's site)

Link to Pinterest board "Learn to Paint"

I've posted 10  of my own exercises/lessons from previous blogs  on pinterest.  The board on pinterest is called "Learn to Paint".  The lesson are out of order, but I numbered them so you can do them in order if you want.  Also listed are some recommended books and Quang Ho's DVD series. 

(For some reason pinterest doesn't allow you to move pins around on a board and that is why they are out of order)

SALES and Marketing - more to learn

Just Sold - the color of this photo is off and that is why I am now using a better camera and spending more time on taking better photos.  You should start to see an improvement.

New listing on ETSY

Friday, November 1, 2013

How to start a painting

Four steps - one way to start a painting

  This is how I usually start my paintings.  I  set up the still life in my shadow box with the light coming from the left or right, just so there is a strong shadow side with a cast shadow.

One way to start a painting:

Step 1 - after toning the canvas with a wash of ultramarine blue, cad red light, and yellow in a neutral mix, the next step is to start drawing with the neutral mix.  Keep the drawing to shapes and values more than a line drawing. 

Bottom left is a value drawing of shadow, cast shadow, reflected light,  and light.  It's all about getting the values right. 

Step 2 - Top left - Translate the values to the equal color values, still very loose and thin paint.  At this point, still looking at the sill life is a good time to do any needed re-drawing. 

Step 3 - Top right - apply thicker paint, add mid value where the dark meets light and on the right side of the apple that reflects the light.  I start with the darks first. 

Step 4 - Bottom right - Finish the painting by refining details, adding thicker paint on the light side, adding the highlight,    The general idea is to work all over the painting including the background and foreground. 

There are lots of ways to start paintings.  This is just one. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

How to start a painting

#8 - Toning the canvas

The last 7 posts have been about value and color mixing,  a good thing to have under your belt before starting a painting. 

There are many ways to start a painting.  I'll include some of the options, but mostly the way I start a painting. 

1 -  Toning the canvas is the first option and decision. 

Toning the canvas means applying a wash of odorless mineral spirits in the color of your choice.  It can also mean using a colored gesso or an acrylic color applied to the entire canvas. 

WHY:  You have a value, usually middle value, to help you get started with drawing onto the canvas.
(Top left) In this example the  choice was red, the complement of green, chosen because complements together are exciting and the green of the pears will vibrate against the red.  This was done with acrylic.
(Top Right) - started on a white canvas.  The end result will be a high key (high value) painting. 
(Bottom left) - This one was toned with a neutral wash of Ultramarine and Burnt Sienna (any mix of red, yellow, blue will give you a neutral)
Bottom Right - toned with a mix of cad light and yellow ochre
It all depends on how you want your painting to look in the end.  I've tried all of these, but the way I use most is the bottom left, using a neutral wash for the toning and the next step which is drawing onto the canvas. 
Tomorrow I'll include photos of the progression of a painting, starting with a drawing. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


October 28, 2013

If you are thinking about marketing your paintings,  ETSY is one more place to show your paintings online.  I have thought about ETSY for awhile, but have been worried about keeping track of another group of paintings and learning about how ETSY works.  My plan is to try it out and learn as I go.  There is a lot to learn.

I've listed these three paintings so far, maybe one a day for awhile....

Monday, October 28, 2013

More about color mixing

Color Mixing

One last exercise for color mixing. (also a form of meditation, at least for me) 

One of the first books I bought when I started to paint was Alla Prima  by Richard Schmid.  He recently published an updated version which is #1 on my wishlist for Christmas.  He said on of his teachers required that he do these color charts before he started to use color in his paintings.  I was so inspired by his book that I took on the challenge. 

I've had these boards for years now and still refer to them and they really helped me with color mixing. 

The concept is to decide on your palette, then mix each color with every other color:

(Link to photos of Richard Schmid's color boards on pinterest_   

1.  Use tape to create a grid.  I used 12 x 16 inch panels. 

2.  Start with the full strength color in the top row, then gradually add white in increasing amounts.

3.  Make a color board for each color on your palette.  For example, to do the cad red light board, you will mix cad red light with every other color on your palette.  The photos show it best. 

It will take awhile, but not only will you learn a lot, but it is like meditation to do these boards. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How to keep colors bright and clean

Mixing colors:  How to brighten colors and keep them looking clean

(I'm listing the learn to paint posts on pinterest )-eventually they will be in order 1-?

WHY:  Bright highly saturated colors come forward.  There is still a need for duller (less saturated colors, the ones that you want to recede or be less important. 

1.  When mixing colors keep the color bias in mind. ( Refer back to earlier blog about that)

2.  If you want to lighten a color, go to the neighbor (analogous color) on the color wheel that is lighter before using white.  For example, to make red lighter, go to cad red light first, then to orange and even yellow.  White will lighten, but also dull and cool a color. 

Mixes of red on the left are made with analogous colors and ones on right use the complement (green) for the dark value, red for the middle, and red mixed with white for the lightest value

Bright vs. dull

You see the differences with this close-up

Which two are the brightest? 

3.  If you want to darken and keep bright, also go to the neighbor on the color wheel.  For example, cerulean blue can be made darker with UB or viridian.  With red, the alizarin or magenta will darken yet keep the color bright.

Keeping colors clean

1.  When mixing use a palette knife vs a brush.  Keep the palette knife wiped off when you change a color.

2.  Keep brush clean by using a paper towel to pull excess paint off rather than dipping into odorless mineral spirits.  The oms will leave a mix on the brush that contaminates your next brush stroke. 
Dipping a brush into a color tends to leave a little paint behind and contaminate the color. 

Please visit my facebook page

Recent painting:  I needed bright colors, unsaturated (dull) colors, neutrals, a little bit of everything here.

Monday, October 21, 2013

great sale - paint supplies

October 21, 2013 - good sale

By now you know how expensive paint supplies are. 

This weekend I discovered a clearance sale at Hobby Lobby for paint brushes.  These happen to be two of my favorite brands because they keep their edges and have a nice bounce.  The Liquitex is soft and doesn't leave brush marks and the Robert Simmons leave just the amount of brush marks that I like. 

I think Hobby Lobby must be discontinuing these brands and I'm not sure if the clearance is nationwide or just here in Fredericksburg, Va.  They are located in the store with the clearance items, not with the brushes.  They range from $2-3 dollars, unbelievable.  This is a good chance to buy BIG brushes.

Also, with a coupon, buying a roll of primed canvas can be a good deal, even cheaper than buying canvas pads.  I found this one  at Michael's, but later discovered that Hobby Lobby has it, too. 

Next blog will be back to color mixing and the topic will be "How to brighten colors?".  I have to paint same examples  so it might be a day or two. 
The canvas in the background is from the roll I bought.  I use it for studies. 
I like flat brushes the best.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

#5 Color Mixing - Complementary colors

Objectives of this Exercise: 
                   How to darken a color
                   How to dull a color
                   How to mix grays

 This exercise is designed to show how to darken a color and dull a color and how to mix interesting neutrals (grays).

Use three sets of complementary colors:

 *how to mix the best (brightest) oange, green,  and purple is on the previous blog post. 




Make a grid like the one in the photo.
Start with complementary colors at top and bottom, then gradually add increasing amounts of the complementary color,  When you reach the middle the result will be unidentifiable as either complement.  The result will be a neutral (gray) color that will often need to use in your paintings.

Notice there are two columns for each set of complements.  The second column is a "tinted" version of the first column achieved by adding white to the colors mixed in the first column. 

The first time you add a little of the complement is get darker and duller and this continues until you reach the middle (the fourth from the top grid where the color looks "muddy", dull and gray. 

Don't worry about making this perfect.  What counts is getting the concept of how to make a color darker by using its complement and seeing how you can predict what happens to color.
a lot of grays used here
dark dull yellows also used

Friday, October 11, 2013

Color Mixing

# 4

Mixing Secondary Colors taking advantage of color bias-  these exercises are  from the class I took with  artist Caroline Jasper who has written several books on color.  (listed in previous blog and shown on my pinterest board about color theory)

Materials needed:

Canvas paper


cad yellow light (or lemon yellow)  COOL because it has some green in it
cad yellow medium  - WARM because it leans toward orange

cad red light  WARM because it leans to orange
alizarin  COOL  because it leans to blue

cerulean blue -   COOL because it leans to green
ultramarine blue   WARM  because it leans towards red

1.  The limited palette called the "split primary", a warm and cool of each of the primary colors.  I like using this palette because the color biases help you in creating the brightest colors when you need them.

Mixing the warm and cool of each primary creates what we know as primary red, yellow and blue.

The following exercises take advantage of the bias of the primary colors.   The chart shows the mixes of warm yellow (cad yellow med) and cool yellow (cad yellow light or lemon yellow)  mixed with the warm red (cad red light)  and cool red (alizarin)

Mixing the warm red and warm yellow makes the brightest orange .  Notice when you use the cool red that has blue in it and the yellow that has green it, you get the dullest orange. 

These charts also take advantage of color bias for the best green.  The bluish red (alizarin) mixed with the reddish blue (ultramarine) makes the best purple. 



Recent painting using the limited palette.  Lots of warms and cools used here. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

#3 - Get to know your colors

Exercise #3 - Color - more to come about color mixing, but first get to know your colors

This exercise I did in a class I took with Caroline Jasper quite a few years ago. 

She has written several books on color, Painters' Guide and Color Manual and Power Color, posted on my pinterest board about color theory. 

The purpose was to get to know your colors:

(arranged according to value rather than color wheel) - more about that later


6 tubes of paint in the following colors:  (These are the ones I use for the limited palette).  There are several more exercises using these colors. 


cad yellow light
cad yellow medium

cad red light
alizarin red

cerulean blue
ultramarine blue

On the first day of the workshop we did swatches of each of our colors from the limited palette. 

 1. Cut out 6 pieces of canvas paper 2 inches by 4 inches.

2.  Paint half with full strength paint, then use some odorless mineral spirits to thin the paint on the edges of the block of color. 

3.  Write information about each color on the back, e.g., name, opacity, transparency, etc, info that you get from the label on the paint tube. 

Caroline then asked us to arrange the colors according to value.  (pictured here).  We then took a photo in black and white to see if our values were correct. 

#2 - Practice with the value scale

Applying different values to show dimension

I did this exercise with my students to show how different strength values can show dimension. 

It's good practice for seeing the importance of lights and darks.  The first cup has almost no contrast and looks flat. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

5 ( maybe more) painting exercises - how to get started if you want to learn how to paint with oils

The Value of Value

I'm going to include exercises that I use with my students.  The last one will be how to start a painting. 

#1 VALUE - understanding lights and darks


The reason you need to know this is because to show dimension, create form and shadow, you will have to know how to make different values (lights and darks).     

Example:  This shows at least 5 different values, but notice the apple and vase only have two values at this point. 

Materials:  Black and white paint (either oil or acrylic), small canvas or any kind of surface even paper if you use acrylics  (email me if you want the entire materials list that I give my students for the first 5 classes):

Create your own value scale of 10 different values: Start with black, the lowest value, #1, keep adding white for the next eight spaces.  The highest value will be #10, pure white.