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

Friday, September 26, 2014

Painting Greatness

Well, I start a new portrait today, among a few others I am working on. This is a special one for me and I dare to show my start. Don't call me crazy.

This is a posthumous portrait of Lieut. General Sir Harold Fawcus, 1876-1947, British Red Cross Director and Surgeon General to the King.

He had/has such a fine face, elegance of carriage,  and, goodness, all those medals reflecting his accomplishments. This is going to be quite something to paint. And I wish to do Sir Fawcus proud.

Interestingly enough, Sir Fawcus visited Los Angeles in 1934, my hometown. I can only imagine what he thought of it.

Please come back to see him finished.

What are you challenged and stimulated  by today?

Go take on the day.


The Start....Liet. Gen. Sir Harold Fawcus
By Johanna Spinks

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Painting Hands.

Gotta hand it to me. I love painting hands.
Close up
By Johanna Spinks
This was a fun portrait commission to work on,  a more casual sketchy kind of portrait, which is what the client wanted for  a surprise birthday gift. When the client said his girlfriend loved sparkle and bling, I knew it was time to get the gold leaf out. I was working to a tight deadline for the client, total painting time two days. No room for errors.

The hand was important to the client and it is my favorite part. I loved her glittery nails.  See close-up above. Hands tell as much about the portrait sitter as the face and need close attention. People seem to have trouble painting hands. I love painting them. Structure, structure. Philip Delaszlo was my favorite hand painter. I study his work a lot.

Portrait Commission
By Johanna Spinks
Oil and Gold Leaf
22 x 28

The start

Friday, September 19, 2014

Surf's Up! Former Malibu Lifeguard Chief Gets Painted.

Sometimes as a portrait painter who paints from life very regularly, you know you just got lucky. A great man walks in your studio, with a great face, life story and attitude. That would be retired Malibu lifeguard chief Randy DeGregori who has helped save many lives from the ocean.

While we chatted away during Randy's life sitting, my brush seemed to do the work on its' own.

It helps me to talk while I paint from life. My subconscious seems to take over. I learned this from my mentor Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler, N.A.

Things often aren't perfect in single life sittings of under two hours. You get what you get. But if there is that undeniable 'energy' on the canvas between sitter and artist, recording a moment in time,  then I am happy. Keep the camera away for touch ups.

Randy was painted for my second public portrait project "The Face of Malibu" appearing in The Malibu Times monthly. Sitter 25 has just been painted. It follows on from "The Face of Ventura". Read Randy's life story at the link below.
Randy DeGregori
Former Lifeguard Chief, Malibu
Painted By Johanna Spinks
Face of Malibu Portrait Series


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Bishop Gets Painted.

Shipping out today from my studio. I am honored to have painted Bishop William Alexander Guerry for a Southern Church. Bishop Guerry was a reformer and martyr. His life was cut way too short when he was killed for his beliefs about including minorities in the church.

I am indebted to my portrait hero Phillip De Laszlo once again. I look at his work so much these days. Check out this old Master.

Bishop William Alexander Guerry
By Johanna Spinks

Friday, September 12, 2014

Palette Knife Portraits From Life

Lynette is a sitter I love to paint. She came to my studio this week and I decided to paint her with a palette knife rather than brush, although I did use a brush for the block-in.

I like a good block-in. It makes me feel like I am off to a good start. Drawing is everything to me. Applying paint with a knife is a much slower process I find  than with the brush. It has been an exciting journey exploring all of this in my portrait art.

I like the subtle color harmonies I got here. Come back to see it done.

Palette Knife
Life Portrait
12 x 16

There will be another sitting to finish this.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Capture the Light Effect

A quickie portrait done of a beautiful sitter at my studio this week. I am about an hour in here capturing the light effect with big brushes. I kinda like what I got and,  more importantly, so did the sitter.
Beautiful times in the studio