Category Archives: Training

Mixed Media Experiment – Sam ‘n Max Biking

Shortly after dear Alison Neustrom passed away, my sister Cecilia and I flew to Maine for a mixed media workshop, turning to art to help manage grief.  We wanted to try our hands at combining oil paint with patterned papers to produce unique images, with artist Katie Wilson.  Ceci’s first effort was a portrait of granddaughter Evie; I worked on a biking scene of grandson Max steering dad Sam.

Ceci's Evie

Ceci’s Evie

Max Steers Sam on a Sunday Ride

Max Steers Sam on a Sunday Ride

Another Upcoming Exhibit ~~ Ten Paintings at the DC Writers Center!

The wonderful DC-area Writers Center regularly hosts art exhibits in its large space, featuring the works of local artists.  Ten of my paintings will be included in the next show, scheduled to open in late June.  This exhibit is organized around the works of those who have painted with Gonzalo Navarro, a fellow teacher at the Yellow Barn Studio in Glen Echo, MD.  I have enjoyed Gonzalo’s teaching expertise — it’s always good to practice skills under the tutelage of an expert in portraiture and figurative painting.  It’s great to have Gonzalo at the Yellow Barn, as well as Maud Taber-Thomas, supplementing the excellent portraiture teaching of Gavin Glakas.

Here is one of the paintings I’ll show in the upcoming exhibit.  More to follow.

ballerina in profile

Pensive Ballerina.  Oil on Arches Oil Paper.


Drawing the Line

With some of my 7Palettes friends, I’m studying plein air painting with Carol Rubin this Spring.  Last week, it was too chilly to paint outdoors, so we made line drawings of a complex still life Carol had assembled.  Here’s a ‘line drawing’ made of oil paints.  Our warmup exercises follow.

Hat, Vases & Vegetation

hat, vases & vegetation. oil on canvas.

Two 30 second drawings.

IMG_0731 - Version 2

bottle, pot & dried hydrangea. charcoal pencil on vellum.

Thirty second hat and more.  charcoal on vellum.

hat and more. charcoal pencil on vellum.

A minute-long ‘continuous line’ drawing — made without taking the pencil off of the paper.

IMG_0729 - Version 2

hat, pots & plants. charcoal pencil on vellum.

A ‘blind contour’ — made while keeping eyes on the object.  NO looking at the paper!  (Well, maybe we got to take three short peeks. . . .)

no looking at the vegetation???  charcoal on vellum.

no looking at the scribblings??  only the objects???  charcoal on vellum.

And finally, as depicted above, we made complex line drawings in black paint and then brushed thick white paint over selected areas to ‘erase’ lines as needed to make the ‘drawing’ more accurate or more interesting.  A fun day.  I did more at home using my own props.  Will post those next time.

Portrait Workshop with Bill Schneider

I recently studied portrait painting with Bill Schneider.  After he did a wonderful demo, Bill had us emulate Nicholai Fechin’s gorgeous ‘broken color’ style, by copying (on a larger scale, so we could practice our facial measuring skills) some Fechin portraits.

Fechin's portrait (L) and my copy.  oil on canvas.

Fechin’s portrait (L) and my copy. oil on canvas.

First I copied one of Fechin’s beautiful women.  And then this precious child.

Fechin's portrait (L) & MOW copy.  oil on canvas.

Fechin’s portrait (L) & my copy. oil on canvas.

The next day we painted from a live model, attempting to apply the broken color method on our own.  Quite a difference in beauty, eh?  (Just keeping it real!)


Working toward Fechin’s ‘broken color’ in painting from life. oil on Arches oil paper.

I ended the weekend workshop with lots to practice and mull.  Thanks, Bill!


Catching Up!! Studies a Plenty to Share

Here’s another study (unfinished) that I did during that wonderful Maggie Siner workshop awhile back.  Maggie wanted us to be very definite in matching colors and then put a big juicy stroke in the MIDDLE of the shape we were working on.

Dino, Pot & White Cat.  Unfinished.  Oil on Linen.

Terracotta Pot, White Cat & Dino on Pig-shaped Cutting Board. Unfinished. Oil on Linen.

Never put your first paint stroke next to an edge, she says, or you’ll be tempted to paint the object rather than the shape.  Maggie gave us a wonderful motto to paint by:  Great shapes, not great objects, make a good painting!


Painting a Study during Maud’s Portrait Class

I made a quick portrait study yesterday during a class I’m taking with Maud Taber-Thomas.  I hadn’t been able to attend for several weeks and was happy to be back.

Dozing Damsel.  Oil on Arches Oil Paper.

Dozing Damsel. Oil on Arches Oil Paper.

During the first class, Maud had recommended as homework that we draw a series of skulls, each in a different position.  I was tickled to have found online an inexpensive, life-size plastic model.  I brought it in yesterday to show, along with the drawings I’d done.  You can catch a glimpse of the skull herself in the last post, where she’s shown modeling for the painting.

Skull drawings.  Charcoal.  (Doesn't that one in the left middle look like Donald Duck?)

Skull drawings. Charcoal. (Doesn’t that one at middle left look like Donald Duck?)


We Share Our Color Learnings

Post-show doldrums are a great time to share insights from prior workshops.  Several of us ‘7 Palettes’ have been sharing new color mixing techniques this week.  Here’s what I passed along from the fabulous Terry Miura workshop my sister Ceci and I attended awhile back.

Here’s a glimpse of Terry’s palette:


Terry Miura’s Limited Palette

And here are insights about painting the figure using a limited earth-tone palette:

  • Select one of each ‘primary’ color, plus white:   yellow ochre; transparent iron oxide red (‘earth red’ in some brands) , ivory black (standing in for blue) and Titanium white.
  • Using a palette knife, make two ‘puddles’ of paint consisting of a bit of each of the primary colors (in varying proportions, obviously):   a light-toned puddle for use in painting light areas of the figure and a dark toned puddle for shadowed areas.
  • To add variety to the light and shadow areas of the painting, ‘push’ each puddle toward other colors and values by adding relatively more of desired dominant colors and less of the subordinated colors.  For example, mix into part of the light puddle a bit more yellow ochre & some black to make a greenish variant.
  • Make sure that none of the darker values in the light puddle is as dark as the lightest light value in the dark puddle and vice versa.  Imagine a line down your palette between the two puddles to keep them strictly separate.
  • Paint the light areas of the figure using only the light puddle and its variants; and paint the shadowed areas of the figure using only with the dark puddle and its variants.
  • Assuming you’ve drawn the figure fairly well, you’ve got a fine looking painting!

Here’s Terry’s beautiful twenty minute demo!

Terry's nude.

Terry’s nude.