Friday, May 30, 2014

Phillip De Laszlo - My Portrait Hero

I feel so lucky I get to paint portrait commissions. Each time I do, I look to my favorite portrait painter of all time Phillip de Laszlo. Readers of this blog will have seem quite a few posts about him at this point. He has been very important to my progress and the art spirit keeps on reminding me that he is 'with me'.

For example this post by moi: dazzling-delaszlo

How I wish I could have met him.

Here is the link to everything Phillip De Laszlo

People have recently been asking me a lot how I get the 'transparent' look to my skin tone. What medium I use, etc.

Well, it is after many years of careful study of De Laszlo, that's how. Not that I wish to compare myself for a second to his genius.

This head and shoulder portrait of a 'miracle baby' is for a client on the East Coast. We went with a contemporary interpretation for it. The painting principles are however  deeply steeped in the past, especially with Phillip De Laszlo.

Join me at my summer workshop to find out more. July 8 -12th.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

English Rose...Portrait Demo

Everything is coming up roses...this week's portrait demo at my new studio teaching class of the lovely actress Barbara. It's a great class full of some great artists and I am feeling energized by it.

Tried to keep the portrait statement simple and clean. Put it down and leave it alone.

"The English Rose"
12 x 16
Oil on linen
For sale
click here onlinestore


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

65 Red Roses Done

Well, I finally finished my large palette knife portrait of Eva Markvoort. Her story of her courageous battle with Cystic Fibrosis really moved me deeply. It is my second portrait of her.

Eva sadly lost her battle, but not before inspiring millions and raising a lot of money for CF through her documentary on Netflix (put out by Oprah Winfrey's OWN)  called, you guessed it, 65 RED ROSES, and her hugely popular blog of the same name.

 Why that name? It is how small children pronounce CF.

 You can read more about Eva's life story  here and try to donate to CF if you can.

Eva's 65 Red Roses
Oil on linen via palette knife
By Johanna Spinks
22 x 28"

the start

The middle


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Palette Knife Portraits

It's a double expresso morning as I burned the midnight oil finishing up this one last night.

I post the stages, started in my teaching class last week.

12 x 16
Oil on linen via palette knife
By Johanna Spinks


Friday, May 16, 2014

Self Portrait With A Palette Knife

I got these new Kate Spade shades and had to paint them. Quite a challenge to paint a self portrait from life with sunglasses on, yet alone with a palette knife,  but I got there in the end.

Cat Eyes
8 x 10
Oil on Canvas Via Palette Knife

Monday, May 12, 2014

Back To The Drawing Board

"Saturday Sheer"
By Johanna Spinks
18 x 24
Available for purchase
Got some good drawing time in this weekend when I helped out at Jeremy Lipking's one day workshop at his studio. I did this conte and gouache large sketch of lovely Stephanie in about two hours and I loved every minute of the busy and fun day.

Lipking is a generous teacher to his students and seems to hold the room spellbound most of the day, all marveling at the work he can pull off in demo format, yet alone on his cool grey studio walls. Look out for his next one day workshops June 21st.

Order his one day workshop here:

See his work at

You can also catch a teaching day with me too here at my Malibu studio. Drop-ins welcome.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

How to paint a palette knife portrait...

My new weekly studio class started today and I am happy to report it was a smashing success. A sunny day, a packed house and some wonderful warmth in the room, everyone doing really great work.

Interesting how the great energy of a new beginning, people picking up on that, going with it, enjoying it , translated into everyones' work.  Some really great work in the room.

I decided to do a small palette knife demo. I felt relaxed and happy, and I like what I got. I may finish it, or not?

Portrait demo from life model

New studio assistant Porsche gets her knickers in a twist not liking the shade of white I  used.
The Greek God of all good art, watches over the still life gang painting outside on  the studio patio.

Monday, May 5, 2014

How To Paint A Child's Portrait?

What's on my easel to beat the Monday Blues today? Well, a portrait of a child with the most amazing baby blues.

Portrait in progress....

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Chapter Ends

A chapter ends. After almost 9 years teaching scores of students at The California Art Institute I decided it was time for me to leave this week and bring things home.

A weekly teaching class, painting the figure from life, will now start at my own studio on Wednesdays. To be honest, it is long overdue.

So this demo I did for CAI on Sunday, demo'd for free to highlight portrait art, is especially poignant to me as it is the last time I will paint within those four walls as a faculty member.

I must have done hundreds of sketches and demos at CAI if you count the students paintings I 're-worked' over too. It baffles my mind actually. I have been so honored to help so many on their own art journey at CAI, those students indeed helping my own.

Change is good. I like it.

"Zhanna" Portrait Demo By Johanna Spinks
California Art Institute April 2014

Everyone's happy - phew

The Beginning

30 minutes in, color blocking