The trumpeter on my easel….

Well now that the show is over, back to my studio to complete the trumpeter and many others stacked up waiting for completion. I’m going to begin with the trumpeter. I had seen him playing his trumpet at an anti-pipeline demonstration on the grounds of the parliament building in Victoria. I began the underpainting some time ago and finally got him on my easel and worked on it enough to show at the opening of my show. The underpainting was done  in Raw umber. trumpeter underpainting So here I painted the background with Raw umber plus Flake white replacement. I then painted in his face using Flake white replacement,  Transparent red oxide and Ultramarine blue, Chromium oxide green and Venetian red. (Indian red would be a good replacement if you cant find Venetian red.) Always think Complimentary colours when painting flesh tones. If the intensity of the reds are too strong, lower them with green and visa versa. trumpeter progress1 Here I painted in Ian’s hands and his sweater. I cant remember what colour green I used for the sweater, but I think it may be a combination of Viridian green, Transparent red oxide (it’s complimentary) and white. I always make sure I leave some of my underpainting showing through so that it can optically mix with the colours I paint over it. The jar on the left is my favorite painting medium, stand oil, walnut oil and Gambin turpentine. The jar on the right is Gamsol odourless turpentine. trumpeter progress2 Here I began painting in the trumpet,  still much to do, I used a combo of Gamblin’s Flake white replacement, Yellow ochre, Lemon yellow and Raw umber. Note that the colour of his flesh is reflected in his trumpet. I was fortunate enough to have located Ian through a chance meeting with a friend of his. lucky me, hoping Ian would be so kind as to pose for the rest of the painting 🙂 more to come…..

The most important lessons one can learn, are from ones mistakes…

Much has changed since my last post. I had planned on a one color painting and ended up painting in color. Thats life. Sometimes shit happens and one has to change plans to overcome the challenges. Bottom line. Be careful and take care when prepping your canvas. The challenges I experienced was a direct result of an uneven surface. My own fault.

None the less, I’m happy with where my painting is going. The shawl’s a bitch to paint, but other than that, everything is going smoothly. I can’t tell you how many layers of skin I’ve painted. Lets go with many lol!

Even though I decided to go with color, my palette is limited to very few. Raw umber, Transparent Red Oxide, Yellow Ochre, Viridian green, Permanent Alizarin and White. I painted the background with raw umber. I love the beautiful grey that raw umber and white produce. It’s a gorgeous neutral color that shows skin tone so beautifully.  I decided to paint as little color on the cedar hat as possible as I want the warm tones of the underpainting to show through.

The most important lessons one can learn, are from ones mistakes. We know what not to do for next time lol!

‘Feel Good’ hues for winter blues…

I posted a short video on how to mix a flesh tone for a portrait and that Video can be found HERE

In my last post I mentioned  my challenges with this painting. Seems the challenges were smoothed out using Titanium white instead of a semi-transparent Silver white. I’m really enjoying using this very limited palette. I love these warm colors. ‘Feel good’ hues for winter blues.

I noticed that many of you are inquiring about Skin Tone Recipes. There is a mass mid skin tone colour for Caucasian skin. But remember this, our skin absorbs surrounding colour and light. The shadows on our skin are made up of color that is reflecting off our clothing, the the object’s complimentary colour and the ambient colour in our environment (background colour) Atmosphere, if you will. The light on our skin also depends on the colour of the ambient light and direct light. I do recommend only one light source, more than that creates problems and why complicate things? Keep it simple. For your light source, I recommend a 4700k light as it is neither yellow or blue, but right in the middle. This way you can get clean light and clean colours.

My suggestion is to make up color charts to help with mixing the correct colors. The predominant color here is Transparent red oxide mixed with small increments of all the colors on my palette. For instance, the first colour is Lemon yellow mixed predominantly with Transparent red oxide, then Pale yellow, the Cadmium yellow, next Yellow ocher, Indian red, Transparent red oxide, Alizarin, Viridian, Cobalt blue and Ultramarine blue.


The colors along the right side are full strength colors and moving towards the left, the colors are mixed gradually with white. I decided to stick to only five values. If the light source is coming from above, which is my preference, the forehead would be the lightest. Then the nose and cheekbones and then the chin. The cheeks would have the most color as there is more blood flow in the fleshy parts of the face. Depending on the color bouncing off the clothing, Our skin tone kinda has a greenish tone to it too. I think it has a lot to do with the color of our veins. Where there is lots of blood flow, fingers, toes, cheeks, our flesh is redder. Bony areas have more of a yellowish green tone. Think Complementary colors when painting flesh tone. If you want a certain area to look pinker, then subtly surround it with green and visa versa. I have included Venetian red and chromium oxide green on my flesh tone palette. I swear by color charts, you cannot go wrong. It’s a huge time saver and mostly saves expensive oil paint. Mix the correct color each time. Any questions regarding color charts, please feel free to ask.


“I feel like a ghost ship drifting on a restless ocean…”

The last few months have been my lowest for creativity. Moods swings leave me feeling like I’m trapped in Alcatraz with no hope of escaping. (No peace for the wicked) At times I’m so numb and so damned tired, I feel like a ghost ship drifting on a restless ocean. Painting anything is a challenge. Yes my muse does emerge from the darkness of her cave from time to time. I began a painting of Ta’Kaiya. Yes another, even in the depths of depression, I’m able to glean some inspiration from this beautiful child.

This is the underpainting, at this point. I sealed and primed an Mdf Board and planned to complete this painting with only one colour. Burnt umber, and I’d use the white of the canvas for my white. Turns out, I should have taken more care preparing my board.  So now I must cover the imperfections  with paint. Number one challenge is applying the first layer of paint without it removing paint at the same time. The board is pretty smooth. Live and learn. I didn’t want to lose this piece, it was a lot of work. I’ll just very carefully layer paint without disturbing the previous layer. The trick is of course to allow each layer to dry thoroughly before applying more paint. I like the warm tones and intend to keep it that way.  My colours are Viridian green, Transparent red oxide, yellow ochre and Silver white. I chose two transparent colours as I want to keep my shadows thin and transparent. The yellow ochre is used only for my lightest lights mixed with white.

Super sweet Studio idea….

Here’s a great idea how to steady your hand for those intricate details. A dry-waller’s T Square attached to my easel. I can adjust the T square to fit the size of my canvas.


I used a nut as a spacer so the T Square sits flush against the bottom shelf. Bonus, I can always have more accurate paintings because now I can always measure to compare. How sweet is that!

Ta’Kaiya Blaney’s Art Cards in print now!

Scott Wingfield from Art ink Print, here in Victoria, bc, Canada, did a fabulous job designing and printing these beautiful cards now in print and soon available for sale :~ ) Details to come…

Hey everyone, I’m back again and ready to paint up a storm!

I know it’s been a while since I posted anything, I do sometimes withdraw and hide. But now I’m back and ready to paint up a storm. Not that I haven’t been painting, on the contrary I just recently completed ‘Chance Meeting in Fan Tan Alley’. Hmmm reminds me, I should update my gallery with more paintings 😀

Today I began a new painting of a guy playing a trombone. I took his picture during an anti-Pineline rally in Victoria. He is aware I may paint him. Always ask someone’s permission first. I will upload progress pics as I paint. I decided to do my underpainting in burnt umber and then I’ll paint in flesh color. Looking forward to this little painting.

Good news, Ive decided to make teaching videos :- ) How to begin an oil painting. How to mix flesh tones. How to successfully mix clean colors and how to avoid muddy colors. How to paint en plein air and much more!

No sense crying over spilt milk…

Unfortunately I have lost a painting due to an accident that has ruined my canvas and is not repairable. Yes it’s the Mayor painting :- ( No sense in crying over spilt milk. I’m going to put it behind me and start again.

I’m taking a new approach this time. I usually start every painting with an underpainting. Not this time. I’ve primed my canvas and tinted it Grey using a mix of Viridian Green and Permanent Alizarin. I’ve also decided to keep the background Grey. In fact I’m not going to touch it. I like that unfinished feel with the linen showing through in some places. I know this is no time to experiment, but I’m going to go with my gut on this. When inspiration has offered you a visual, then go with it all the way. Never second guess yourself or doubt your Guru.



Miss Rose makes herself comfortable on my easel…


I excitedly prepared my canvas and began my underpainting. I tinted my canvas with raw umber and tiny dash of Gamsol odourless turpentine. (No getting away from the turps. Although it’s use is very minimal in my studio.) Then rubbed the excess off with a lint free rag. I roughed-in the dark areas and drew my image with my brush and raw umber, taking out the lights with brushes and a rag. Once I’m satisfied with my composition placement and have the perspective and proportion right, I’ll start working on more detail. I placed the bricks and worked on Miss Rose, painting in her features and the detail in her coat. Her hand holding a drink and then her skirt and boots.  At this point I’m deciding how I want the other side to look. Although it’s Fan Tan Alley, I’m going to change it up a bit, like I do most of my paintings. The backgrounds are all from my own imagination. Nothing is what it seems. I guess we call it ~ Artistic license :- )

My Studio is now Chemical-free…

Last night was spent endlessly coughing. I didn’t sleep. My lungs have had it with chemicals. No more turpentine. Its over between us! My studio is now chemical-free.

Thank god for Virgil Elliot. An expert in the field of Oil paint and Mediums. He has found a safe alternative for this very hazardous profession. Safflower oil for Clean-up. Here’s an article he wrote on this very subject…

“All the natural resins have their drawbacks as ingredients in oil painting mediums, and increase the likelihood of problems developing at some point in the future. The most permanent paint films result from the simplest mixtures of linseed oil and pigment. I am less leery of alkyds than I am of damar, mastic or copal, if for some reason I feel a need for a resin in my paint. I find I can paint every bit as well without resins as with them. Our health will suffer less if we can find a way to keep the air in our studio free of solvent vapors. When the paint contains no resins, safflower oil and a rag will suffice for cleaning brushes while one works, and for that matter, afterwards, if it is followed with soap and water. I use different brushes for different colors, and do not clean brushes until I’m done painting for the day. Not only does that keep me from breathing harmful vapors, it keeps my colors cleaner in my paintings.”

Virgil Elliott

%d bloggers like this: