Monday, July 18, 2016

An Artist Teaches

Yesterday I drove to The Weisman Museum at Pepperdine University to a talk and demonstration by one of my art mentors, David Leffel. The drive itself was a landmark for me as I fear LA traffic! I found the traffic doable on a Sunday and actually, I'd only driven to Malibu - which locals will tell you is not LA. What?!? To me, LA kind of goes on forever! Anyway, the talk and demo were the types of things my bucket list is made of. Priceless! 
Below are some highlights and quotes from David's talk:

When painting, "more to less" variation.
Do not be too specific too soon.
Leave doors open to possibility.
David uses highlights to direct the viewer's eye.
"Create a lot of nothingness to make the something more important!"

When painting backgrounds:
Warmth creates depth
Coolness creates flatness

When painting foregrounds, it is the opposite!
Warm colors bring forward.
Cool colors recede.

To render is to illustrate. 
To paint is to sculpt.

"The more transparent the shadows, the more it makes an object lift up".
"The light designs".
"The technique is not as important as the intelligence behind the brush".
"Be aware of people in the portrait first, and that it is a painting second".
"Have a concept first and put the pieces into the concept". 
"Orchestrate what you are seeing into a visual delight".
"In a good painting, there's a dialogue...unfinished, finished....this is so the viewer can read into what the painter has left undone".
"5/8th finished is your goal. Leave 3/8th of the painting to the viewer to finish".
David has not favorites in subject matter. It's all about the struggle of effectively putting paint down.
"When the stomach is full, the head is empty".
"Every painting is a self portrait. It is a portrait of the intention behind the painting".
In each painting do self examination. Understand what you're looking for. Hone your technique, but be clear about your intention and get THAT into the painting.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Making a Splash!

Here's the painting so far. It's almost complete but I need to put it aside for a week as the paint is slightly dry and getting tacky (not good to keep going at this point). I'll look at this under different lighting and think about what else needs to be done. Two areas that I'll be concentrating on are: Value corrections and details in focal areas.
A warning to myself: Don't overwork this! I want this bird to give the impression of taking flight, not feel tight. Another reason to set this aside for a few days.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Work in Progress

I thought I'd share a work in progress. I enjoy sharing my process but this is not for the faint of heart as most of my paintings go through an adolescent phase from hell! :-0  With oils I enjoy starting loose, very loose with a watercolor underpainting(see above) as this first step helps me visualize my finished painting and I find it relaxing. It also helps me check my composition, drawing and value patterns. This step can also be done with oil and turpentine, but I used a light wash of watercolor here.
In the top photo you can see the original photograph from a generous photographer/friend of mine (thanks Don Anderson!), along with a small value sketch. If you look at the actual painting (top) you can see where I've drawn grid marks lightly on the canvas. This is how I check my drawing to make sure my proportions are correct. Not much worse than getting 3/4 of the way into a painting and then realizing your basic structure (or drawing) is flawed!
The background is not finished but this feels like a good start. I've loosely blocked in the swan- don't get scared! The marks I've made are mostly for landmark purposes and how I begin to map out darker values.
OK, after posting these scary photos I'd better finish this in a few days, huh?!? I'll post the next or finished photos as soon as they're completed. Thanks for viewing!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Studying some masters

Hi!  I'm working on a a series of paintings that will not be published until they are nearer completion.  I'm excited about this new venture and have been studying/painting away. It's hard NOT to share each step but for now I will upload and share what I'm doing as I take short breaks from my series.

I'm keeping my balance by choosing a few older paintings that 'weren't quite right' and tweaking them. My aim is to ether cure or kill these paintings. Why? Well, why not?!? Let's see if I can salvage a few of these.

This example was obviously inspired by VanGogh. I admire this artist's work and enjoy studying his style, color and brush marks. The top painting was my first attempt at some flowers I'd picked from my yard. I liked the energy of the brush strokes, but MAN, those colors were yelling at me. They were saying "Lay OFF the caffeine Karen!". Below I've dulled the background colors, trying to keep with my initial idea of energetic brushstrokes. I enjoy painting this way. Less thinking and more from my heart.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Traveling Buddha

Second attempt at Buddha is heading south quickly! :-(
This brings to mind the most popular question people ask artists: "So, how long did it take to paint that?" I wonder if observers really want to hear about the hours of practice runs?!?
Actually, I'm going to let this painting simmer tonight and in the morning may do some experimenting with this. Sometimes it's nice to 'give up' on my painting as it frees me to experiment. I've pulled a few of these out of the gutter. It's alway interesting being an artist!

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Video Worth Watching- Joseph Raffael

Hello! Thought I'd share a calm and inspirational watercolor video. This watercolor artist has been a favorite of mine for years. Joseph Raffael is a contemporary watercolor artist. American, but lives in the south of France. Love the music that also accompanies this video! Relax and enjoy!

PS He's also got a fantastic book you can get on Amazon titled: Reflections of Nature: Paintings by Joseph Raffael

Monday, August 17, 2015

Demos from Hope's Watercolor Workshop

Hello! Here are two workshop demos. I think I'd title the top painting something like "Who Says Sunflowers Have To Be Yellow?!?"
The bottom painting is unfinished, yet I believe it says what it needs to say. My point is that many times in art, or watercolor, less is more! :-)

I've had a few questions about the palette (or paint colors) we used in our workshop.  Basically, I used a warm and a cool version of each of the primary colors, plus a few others. These colors vary from manufacturer to manufacture. That’s all good, it just takes experimenting until you find the specific colors you enjoy. Some of my favorite paint companies (or manufacturers) are Winsor & Newton, Daniel Smith, Holbein & Schminke. However, there are several others that are also top quality. Here is the basic palette I used:

Aurelian Yellow
Cadmium Yellow
Alizarin Crimson or Permanent Rose or Rose Madder Genuine
Cadmium Red
Cadmium Orange
French Ultramarine Blue
Cerulean Blue
Burnt Sienna or Indian Red
Raw Sienna

Making Colors Sing by Jeanne Dobie is a wonderful book focusing on practical lessons in color and design. Jeanne shares fun lessons on mixing beautiful colors. This is available on

Let me know if you have other questions. Happy painting!