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Thursday, October 16, 2014

25 Of My Palette Knife Portraits

The title says it all.

Almost two years ago, November 14th 2012, at 2 a.m., I picked up a palette knife for the first time to paint a portrait, after many years of doing it with the brush.  I am not quite sure why. But it has been a rewarding journey outside of  my commissioned brush portrait work. And also a daring challenge to myself.

Feeling reflective,  I did this little collage today of some of my palette knife portraits so far, a collection I am slowly working on for a show. Most are painted from life. It may be many more year until that show. But I am so o.k. with that.

I think they are looking ok. What do you think?

A Sample of My Palette Knife Portrait Work
Copyright Johanna Spinks

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Quick Sketch -TV Host

I must be barking mad to agree to do a 20 minute demo in front of rolling film cameras for model finalists on the show "Model Turned Superstar". But that's what I did. Here you see beautiful host Ms. April  Scott take a peak at brief demos end. The most important thing is the models were inspired and then went off to do some really wonderful painted 'selfies', filmed as one of the many challenges the girls have to do for this show. Winner gets $1 million!
Catch the show when it airs  

My Demo, 20 Minutes, cameras rolling, of TV host April Scott.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Model Turned Superstar Self-Portraits

Lights, camera, 'self-portrait' action. I get to teach 12 model finalists today how to do self-portraits live on camera for this show being filmed in Los Angeles today http://www.modelturnedsuperstar.com/

Come back to hear more.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Like a Snail...Palette Knife Portraits

Well, I know how to paint with a brush real fast around a demo or life portrait sitting . I think followers of this blog know that by now. Certainly my portrait sitters do. They are usually happy with my life painting efforts, a likeness finished within about two hours, chatting as we go. Team effort.

But I am taking the most daring step during my teaching life painting class of slowing myself down via a palette knife. I also was honored by a recent palette knife portrait commission from life, the sitter knowing it would be a slower process.

Think of it like adding 30 lb huge weights to your art boots. Wading in molasses, but delightfully so.

I move like a snail and students/sitters don't get to see quickie results like the regular brush finish. I am trusting in my art journey.

It is really a leap of faith. Are you with me?

The Finish
"Wedding Attire"
9 x 12"
Oil on Linen, palette knife
By Johanna Spinks

My life sitting today...more work to do.

I allow myself a drawing brush block-in

Monday, October 6, 2014

Inspiration...A Special Story

I was so inspired today by my journalist daughter Rosie Spinks who spent five months in South Africa, working on a story, seeing it  published via GOOD on a very delicate subject.


I decided to feel inspired myself and knew I wanted to paint with a palette knife this afternoon and do a portrait of Rosie Spinks so that is exactly what I did.

Not a bad day's efforts. I like what I got even though it took me way less time than my daughter's well researched article, five months in the making, living in South Africa to find her story.

When inspiration comes, you fly with it, right?

Palette knife portrait, "The Embroidered Top", 9 x 12",  by Johanna Spinks

Palette knife portrait,  in progress, close-up
Palette knife strokes, close up

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Perfect Art Studio Furniture

Beautiful Stephanie came into my studio to be painted this week from life wearing a gorgeous red satin slip from Paris that I wanted to paint as much as her pretty face - so I did.

I have painted this lovely young lady quite a few times now after being introduced to her by Jeremy Lipking. www.lipking.com.  I always enjoy her sweet soul and the energy she brings to the table.

I have also collected a vast number of slips, kimonos, flimsy vintage type clothing and yummy paintable things from around the world. Students always ask me: "Where do you find all these things?"

It is also the first time I got to paint my new studio bench which I waited for months to buy after spotting it at Charme D'Antin in Los Angeles. It is over 100 years old and completely impractical. I suspect it was made from an old french bed headboard. But I love it and wonder at all the people who sat on it or slept under it that elaborate headboard. Maybe I am the first to paint it?

Gratitudes to Stephanie, that red satin slip, and my new old bench.

Life sitting at the studio this week

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Ten Great Things I Learned From Jeremy Lipking

Readers of this blog will know for almost three years now I have been lucky enough to be around master painter Jeremy Lipking, offering a helping hand when he needs it in return for inspiration from this incredibly talented man.


Lipking's work moves me. Plain and simple. We paint in different styles for sure, but I love to watch him paint and hear his thoughts on all things to do with his art. I am a big believer in surrounding myself with greatness to learn more about what I do in my own professional working life - and that he is.

It has been quite a journey so far. There was a Lipking workshop visit to Sweden to Anders Zorn's hometown Mora, a workshop to the High Sierras, a huge sold-out solo show in NY that Lipking prepared for over two years, and a ton of weekly Tuesday night classes and weekend workshops. There was also a delightful addition to the young Lipking family during this time period which made everyone's heart sing.

I have seen many enthralled students come through Lipking's eclectic studio, which is  full of his paintings and personal art finds and treasures. I've seen many Lipking demos and many of his large scale, prize-winning paintings in progress.  Just this year Lipking won The Prix de West and also The Art Renewal Centre Grand Prize. He knows a thing or two and he is not even 40 yet.

I was prompted to come up with the TOP TEN THINGS I have learned from this young master so far after watching him demo yesterday knowing I was in the presence yet again of greatness. And not to mention grateful for it.

1. Take your time: Lipking thinks things through from beginning to end. His first brushstroke is as important as his last.

2. Simplify: Lipking will take a complicated mountain range or ocean view and simply it like no other. Saying less is more.

3. Warm shadows: paint them darker than you think and use cool muted greys for the light with some cadimum 'bright' mixes for the sizzle on top, a.ka. Lipking 'glow'.

4. Design: Lipking is a master here. Using his excellent drawing skills he designs beautiful shapes around a chosen value pattern.

5. Subtle: super subtle half tones in the light, often connecting to each other and kept lighter in value than you would think.

6. Purple: a  blue-ish purple mound of color is always on Lipking's palette, think of a Provence Blue shade. He dips into it often to cool his colors.

7. Washes: thin washes are used to optimum effect and an important part of his approach with parts of the wash appearing in the final painting, under clothing or hair, or just about anything.

8. Observe: Lipking's mind is always working on the lookout for his next great painting. Once on a car ride we swerved off the road to catch a herd of sheep at sunset that he had seen in the distance.

9. Go for exquisite: give everything you paint your full attention from a humble single flower to a vast canyon range at sunset.

10. Paint what you love: this is obvious in all of his paintings. He doesn't paint to the crowd. It seems he  paints to please himself and the rest follows.

To sign up for Lipking's next studio workshop day Saturday October 18th, go here:

Jeremy Lipking's inspiring demo this weekend at his studio workshop.
My 'take' on the lovely model, Julie.
Lipking on location 2013
Lipking Malibu beach workshop 2012
Lipking Studio workshop 2012
A quick-sketch of me by Lipking
Sweden, 2012. Myself pictured here with Lipking at Anders Zorn's summer house.
Amazing times.
A palette knife portrait I did of Lipking
"Sierra Shades - Jeremy Lipking"
Lipking workshop, The Sierras Fall 2013
Lipking Gets Another Cover
Lipking Sold-Out Solo Show December 2013