Posted on January 21, 2016
Don’t you wish winter was over? I know I do… I’m more of a spring and summer kinda girl. I can’t wait to work on my garden and grow veggies and soak up some warm sunshine!
Back to my studio, I’m working on a project I can’t wait to share with you! It’s big and will probably take several months to complete. In the meantime, did you know, one of the best ways to improve your work… is to paint every single day. Set a time limit and do your best to stick to it. Start with four hours and then decrease your time limit as you improve. Start with a small canvas with one object and then add a few more as long as you keep it simple. Challenge yourself with a very limited palette like I did on with the bowl of eggs and water and the silver sugar bowl. When your time improves, challenge yourself with a larger piece. Anything is paint worthy. Coffee mugs, teacups, glass or even a rusty old pot. It doesn’t really matter. Pick something and go for it!
Begin with an underpainting using burnt umber and then add color. Try to stick with a very limited palette to challenge yourself even further.
I would Love to see some of your studies! Feel free to post your pics in the comment section below!
Posted on March 1, 2013
It’s a beautiful morning on this first day of March. Although it looks like rain on the way, there is such a beautiful light flooding through my window. I moved my studio upstairs. I don’t know why I didn’t do this sooner. The attic room was purple, but not for long. I painted it a dark sage green. The colour of ambient atmosphere. Perfect for painting people and still from life. I’m so fortunate to have this space in this north-west facing room. The window light is more than enough light for painting. The natural light is way more uplifting for my spirit. Chopin plays his piano and soothes my soul while I write, sigh…
Here’s an image I took with my iphone of my studio. I love this space. I can close the door and shut the world out while I paint and swoon over the most beautiful music that touches my muse in such a profound way.
In reply to your question, Felta, about how I set up a portrait sitting. How long a sitter sits and how much do I get done in one sitting.
I have two windows in my studio. I sit with my back facing the one window, so the window light falls on the canvas on my easel and palette. The sitter sits near the other window. Generally I like a two hour sitting, although I can manage an hour if the sitter falls asleep and needs to go home for a nap. Two of them fell asleep sitting for me yesterday hahaha!
In this image, the sitter, Rolf came over to sit for his portrait quite late in the day and the light began to fade. I turned on a 5000k light and faced it up towards the ceiling. The light bounced off the ceiling and created the perfect light for my sitter. The first sitting took a few hours. This time was spent drawing his face with my brush on a canvas I stained with a wash of burnt umber the day before. I used burnt umber for my drawing. The second sitting was an hour and half. Half the time was spent laying in shadows and searching for the correct colours. I found the right mixes and made notes. The third sitting was in my new studio. An hour, Rolf fell asleep, lol, he had a long day at work, standing all day cutting hair. My studio is so peaceful. I have the most beautiful view overlooking a gorgeous Zen Garden David created. An old blue and gray house in the neighbors yard and the trees behind the house looks so inviting. I am definitely going to paint this view. Soon.
The colours I use for flesh tones are as follows, but first remember this, although we all have our own skin tone recipes, they are never written in stone. Skin tones differ and also depends on what surrounds the skin. Light and colour illuminate the skin. Our skin is like a mirror that reflects everything around it. Here are a few recipes I picked up from Daniel Greene, one of my favorite portrait painters. I found his mixtures to be pretty spot on. I like to premix some of my colours, especially when time is of the essence.
Raw Sienna + Cadmium red light. This is for the reds in the half tones and the hot reds in the shadows.
Chromium oxide green. I’ll explain how I use this colour…
Look at your hand. Hold your had sideways like this.
Notice that as the light begins to turn to shadow there is a green colour and then the hottest colour is right where the shadow begins. Right next to the hottest colour is green and then the shadow is made up of the ambient colour of the room . You can see it closer to my thumb. If you notice the top left side of the image, the folds between my thumb and forefinger are red and then surrounded with a subtle green. Notice the green surrounding the indentation. You will also notice the yellow colour of my skin in the light. Yellow Ochre + White and a dash of purple, I made up of Alizarin Crimson and Ultramarine blue. Always think complimentary colours when you paint skin tone. I use Chromium oxide Green and the Raw sienna and Cadmium red light mix for the shadows. For the deepest shadows I mix Sap green + Alizarin. Two transparent colours. You want to keep your shadow colours thin. Always tone down your reds with green. Always tone down your greens with red and that includes pinks too, as that is made from reds. Always use complimentary colours to tone down the intensity and Nothing else. For pinks I use Burnt sienna + white. For orange tones I use Burnt Sienna + Yellow Ochre. Always tone down your yellows with purple. Nothing else. Remember, Yellow Ochre is a yellow. I also mix up a pile of Transparent red oxide and Ultramarine Blue for my darks. Transparent Red oxide + Burnt sienna with a dash of blue + White makes a great base for skin tone too. It all really depends on the sitter’s skin tone and the ambient atmosphere. Alizarin and Viridian make a beautiful dark colour for shadows in the the background too. I also sometimes use Viridian in skin tones too, it really depends on the skin tone of the sitter.
As I mentioned in previous posts, make up colour charts of the colours you use. You can’t go wrong. If I don’t know what combination of colours to mix to arrive at a certain colour, I use my colour charts. It’s fail-proof.
Hope this helps, please feel free to ask any questions should I have missed anything.
Good luck and happy Painting!
Posted on December 26, 2012
Wow, now that the crazy rush is over, well almost. I can get back to planning the year ahead. I have a few projects on the go. One of the projects involve painting a collection for a fund-raiser. More of that to come later as it develops. I plan to paint more prolifically this coming year. One thing I do intend to take part in, the practice of a one hour, tonal study from life as a warm-up to start the day. I find this practice excellent for self discipline and improves one’s skill over a short period of time. One of these days I’ll film a demonstration to show how easy this is and how much pleasure one can derive from it :- )
The best way to progress as a painter~ is to paint. A lot. Every day. The more you practice, the better you get. There are no hidden ‘Secrets’ or shortcuts to painting beautifully. One cannot put an apple in a blender and expect grape juice. What you put in, is what you get out. A successful painter once told me to never be satisfied with mediocrity. Always push yourself further than your capabilities. Challenge yourself with the most difficult parts first and when you have that down, challenge yourself even further.
Currently on my easel is the first of several paintings for a fundraiser I’m taking part in. More to come on that.
Happy painting :- )
Posted on December 13, 2012
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. 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. 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. 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…..
Posted on February 22, 2012
Setting up an Oil painter’s studio can be a costly affair. It doesn’t have to be. In this post, I give you the basics of setting up your studio, I cover the paints and brushes and mediums I use.
When painting super large paintings that don’t fit on an easel, I just hang it on screws.
I use a wall easel instead of a regular easel and this frees up floor space. This means I can work on many paintings at a time and also have somewhere to hang them while they are dying. The wall easel slats are cut at an angle so I can hang my painting panels. I also made sure that they are perfectly level.
I cut some wooden blocks shaped at an angle and I attached them to the back of my panel. Just make sure the screws are short and don’t pierce into our painting.
Lighting: For lighting I use flicker-free 4700k LED’s, high quality lighting. What is so awesome about these lights is it uses very little power and you can paint any time day or night and the light remains consistent and with a high Color Rendering Index. This makes a huge difference in the quality of the light. You can accurately mix colors and paint with confidence. Here is some info about their flicker-free light bulbs
A Chest of Drawers is handy…This is ideal for placing your computer monitor, your brushes and jars of turpentine/medium, whatever you use.
In the top drawer you can place your tubes of colors in a row all along the width of the drawer. This way you can easily find the colors you need. The next drawer down you could keep paper towels, rags etc. And in the bottom drawer you could store drawing pads and small painting panels.
Palette, brushes, paints and mediums…
I use a cart for my palette. My husband Marc, made the top with a scrap piece of plywood. He glued on some square dowels around the edge and for my brushes. I then stained it with a mahogany stain. I had some glass cut to fit the top perfectly.
are perfect for laying down paint and the Eclipse flats, filberts and rounds are my favorite and are amazing for smoother passages, and for painting flesh. The Masters choice make great softeners and are ideal for sky and clouds. The Tisch Daggers are my new favorite, they are amazing for painting trees!
To add texture to your trees, I recommend Rosemary & Co’s Tree and Texture brushes. Couldn’t be easier!
Mediums:. I use Natural Pigment’s Oleogel and I love how it handles. It’s easy to use, no mess, no fuss and is solvent free.
I highly recommend Natural Pigments for those who want to use quality oils. Their Rublev oil colors are absolutely fantastic to work with. They are handmade using traditional pigments.
Marc made this rack for me to store my paints, and I will at some point, stain it with a mahogany stain. I’m so delighted with it.
Substrate and Grounds: I paint on wood braced panels and glue on cotton unprimed canvas. I then size the canvas panel first before applying an Alkyd Lead oil ground. If you do use an acrylic primer, I recommend Liquitex. Just make sure you leave your panels to dry for three days between each layer as it takes that long for the water in the primer to evaporate. Otherwise, if you paint on the panel before it’s had time to evaporate, can cause problems. What I really like about Liquitex, is that it seals the surface too. You can apply directly to raw canvas. If you do paint on ready primed canvas, I recommend applying a few more coats of primer.
Paper towel and clean-up… I prefer to use paper towel instead of rags to clean my brushes. I also find that the cheapest brand or even recycled paper towel is best. No lint. Avoid the big fluffy rolls of paper towel. I really like the blue shop towels, they are quite durable.
You can either use odorless mineral spirits or use walnut oil as a brush dip to clean your brushes. Just wipe off the excess paint and dip my brush into walnut oil, don’t swish your brush, just dip it and work it into a paper towel.
My favorite brush cleaner is Murphy’s Soap. I can’t live without it. The best ever! It will even clean off hardened stiff brushes, it’s amazing and totally Non-toxic!
IMPORTANT: Make sure you rinse your brushes off thoroughly with water to remove ALL traces of soap.
There you have it, I hope you found some of my ideas helpful! Best of luck setting up your studio!