Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Last Portrait Sitting of 2015-Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones.  

It seems entirely fitting my last life portrait sitting of 2015 is of my husband in his swish peacoat,  a work in progress,  via palette knife, 30x40". It was pretty chilly in the studio yesterday. That coat came in handy.

Thanks for supporting my art this year. It means the world. See you in 2016.

The Padster
Work in Progress
Via Palette Knife
By Johanna Spinks

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My New BFF, Dreama Tolle Perry

"Dreama Dreaming"
By Johanna Spinks
In the collection of Dreama Tolle Perry
You could say this lady I just sketched is my new BBF!

I have admired artist/writer Dreama Tolle Perry for quite a few years now. She speaks in an art language uniquely her own. Her work is uplifting and witty, brilliant in execution, her joy for life contagious.

Dreama is the total art 'package'. She has carved out a loyal and large art following, teaching workshops across the country and selling everything she paints. She let's people into her life; she reveals that her favorite color is purple, chocolate has her at 'hello', and her cute cat Eddie frequently demands her attention, often being the star of her colorful paintings.

Ms. Perry changed the way I thought about art especially in my "High Days and Holidays" series of hat paintings, along with my personal sketch books.

 I realized that it was o.k. to paint, and reveal, my more fun, feminine side - alongside doing serious portrait commissions and public portrait projects.

"Spring Delicacy"
By Dreama Tolle Perry

Fast forward to this Holiday week when I decided to paint this sketch of Dreama. We have become friends over the last year or so and Dreama being Dreama just did the most gracious post about our portrait's back story after seeing  it this week.

Read Dreama's post here hats-off-johanna-spinks

Also, if you are looking for a great motivational one-of-a-kind art experience Dreama is just about to launch her new art teaching baby, an online masterpiece course,  like no other, that she has been working on for months. It is called "Dream. Love. Paint" and promises to be very special. She even renovated a cottage just for the filming of the series. Painted purple/lilac of course!

"Pink, White and Ed"
By Dreama Tolle Perry

"Mint Julips"
By Johanna Spinks
High Days and Holidays Collection

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Food for Thought...

With a fridge full of leftovers today amid this Season of Abundance and plenty for many, I am reminded of my current Face of Malibu portrait sitter Heidi Amundson who has tirelessly delivered food to the needy for many years with Meals on Wheels. I thought her a great choice for The Holiday Season. Thank you to The Malibu Times for featuring this series. Single life sitting, two hours.

Heidi Amundson
By Johanna Spinks
Sitter number 39
The Face of Malibu Portrait Project
As featured in The Malibu Times

Sunday, December 13, 2015

A New Town Gets Painted...

Completing seven days of life sittings today for my new public portrait project east coast with a newspaper there. Mystery town soon to be revealed. 

This week: coffee count 100, oyster bake count 1, glamour ball count 1, wine count TBA, drawing count priceless. Thanks to Katherine Falls Mengedoht, this project's co-creator.

Here's a sneak peek behind the scenes. 

This new portrait project follows on from The Face of Ventura with The Ventura Breeze and The Face of Malibu with The Malibu Times, ongoing.

The Face of ...?
By Johanna Spinks
Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Next Public Portrait Project

Leaving on a jet plane to start painting a new town with a new newspaper...excited. A week of sitters booked back to back. Face of Ventura with The Ventura Breeze Newspaper, Face of Malibu with The Malibu Times, The next Face of Of? Top secret but stay tuned - all will be revealed.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Perfect Holiday Art Gift

Looking for the perfect art holiday gift Idea? How about Romancing The Himalayas with me?  A once in a lifetime painting workshop like no other. 

The perfect gift for you or your loved one, the artist that loves painting in exotic historical  and colorful locations and eating yummy mostly vegetarian Indian food. Thanks to Indus Experiences for arranging an incredible itinerary and inviting me to do this tour. I am excited for the opportunity, the places we will go and the people we will meet. All levels welcome. All mediums welcome. I will be using both water-based oil and watercolor. Non-painting partners welcome too. 

Visit details of the tour at this link below. Book it there too:


Email me for a full color free brochure to be send to you:

A holiday in India is a not just a holiday - it mesmerizes the senses with sights and sounds that become treasured memories for life... sunset at the Taj Mahal as the setting sun turns the Poem to Love a dusky pink; steaming bowls of curry for breakfast on the station at Kalkawaiting for the Toy Train to Shimla......dawn on the Ganges as the mists swirl and the sonorous chants of Priests echo across the waters.
India is also a painter's dream. you will paint in this workshop with Johanna in a way perhaps you have never done before. This exotic locale workshop will focus on quick sketches 'out and about' of the local sights and colorful people and even some interiors of the wonderfully historical places we will be staying. You will return home with a perfect painted record/journal of your trip from which you can then make larger paintings at home.
Delhi • Amritsar • Dharamshala • Paragpur • Shimla • Delhi 

Noma's Diya - Marigold Tealights
By Johanna Spinks
Oil on board via palette knife
Painted from Spinks' last trip to India 2014

An example of the quick sketch you will be doing  in India.
These are all from Johanna's 2014 trip, all 6x8". Oil.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

100 Years And Counting...

100 years on this planet teaches you a thing or two. Meet lovely blue eyed centenarian Bill Armstrong, my latest Face of Malibu sitter, featured each month in The Malibu Times. Thanks to all!

Read Bill's life story here:
Bill Armstrong
By Johanna Spinks

Painting Bill
Single Life Sitting
Photo courtesy of Diana Armstrong

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Unsung Hero Portrait Series

Honored to have been commissioned to paint a series of "Unsung Heroes" for The Ventura Breeze Newspaper  by gracious Jordan and  Sandra Laby. Here is our fourth recipient Elizabeth Cornejo at her presentation lunch with the Labys. Single life sitting. Thanks also to ace publisher Sheldon Brown

Read Elizabeth's courageous life story:

Elizabeth Cornejo
By Johanna Spinks
Single life sitting

Presentation lunch with Elizabeth and series' gracious sponsors Sandra and Jordan Laby. Kindly appearing in The Ventura Breeze. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015


It's amazing what a fresh start will do on a fresh day. I decided to revisit the life sketch I did of Shannon, see previous post, which I felt coulda, shoulda, woulda have been a whole lot better if only if...

I started it again, using the life sketch for reference,  painting it with a palette knife. I put it down much more as I wanted to say it.

Softer, cleaner more elegant lines, with some color play of yellows and blues, see palette I placed to the side of sketch with my trusted Province Blue made from Charvin which I inhale like smelling lavender.

Hope you like!

Malibu Pier
By Johanna Spinks
For sale

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Palette Knife Tantrums

Sometimes my palette knife has a mind of its' own but I guess that's half the fun of a life sitting wielding a knife however frustrating at times.

TY beautiful ArtModelShannon!

The Joys of the Palette Knife Life Sitting
By Johanna Spinks
Oil on Linen

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Hello Dolly...

Dolly Read Martin
Face of Malibu By Johanna Spinks

Hello Dolly! Meet Dolly Read Martin, Britain's First Playboy Playmate in 1966, wife of comedian Dick Martin and "Return To The Valley of The Dolls" cult icon. My latest Face of Malibu sitter, painted in one sitting, the series kindly featured in The Malibu Times. Thank you Dolly! We laughed and chatted all the way. To read more about Dolly's fascinating life story:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Freedom 58 Portrait Project

Hard to believe human slavery goes on every day while we drink our cappuccinos. This beautiful girl I just painted from Cambodia was luckily freed, hence my choice of the gold leaf butterfly. I also wanted to add a touch of her homeland adding the Cambodian sunset.

It is 30x40" via my palette knife painted for The Freedom 58 Project, a traveling portrait show,  highlighting awareness of this travesty. Can you do a portrait too to bring the world's attention to human trafficking and help stop it? If so, go here:

You can also contact Bob via email at

"Freedom Flys"
By Johanna Spinks
via palette knife

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pie Faced

"Holly's Apples"
By Johanna Spinks
Oil on linen board

I once read somewhere you should learn to  paint apples really well  before you can even begin to think of learning how to paint a head. I think it was Helen Van Wyck, a deceased artist I admire for her teachings and books. I agree 100 per cent. There's a lot to be learned from the simple apple. This is a painting I just did back East when cold rain stopped landscape painting play. Sorry, I don't like to paint in the rain. We baked these apples in a pie right after recording them for posterity. You could say we were all pie faced by this point.

Friday, October 9, 2015


WANTED! The best red head in town. If you approach her, this songstress/muse is heavily armed with talent and dangerous to all life painters who tackle her. Do you know her? Life sitting this week - via my palette knife.
"Best Red-Head In Town- Mather"
By Johanna Spinks
Palette knife

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Floral Delivery For You!

There is always something to paint as an artist, often right in front of your nose.
A rain soaked landscape painting trip to the east coast left me painting indoor flowers I had just given to my lovely hostess.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Yummy People

I love painting people who are as yummy on the inside as out. Thank you Salvatore Infantino for a great life sitting.
Oil on Linen
Via Palette Knife
By Johanna Spinks

Friday, September 18, 2015

A Great Life Teacher Dr. Wayne Dyer

I was saddened to hear of the recent passing of Dr. Wayne W. Dyer. A wonderful man and a great teacher to millions around the world. Check out his books about living large, my favorite being The Power of Intention.

I took to my palette knife to express my feelings for him one sunny afternoon near the beaches he loved so much. I hope he would approve. RIP and thank YOU Dr. Dyer.

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
By Johanna Spinks
Via Palette Knife

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I'm High Society

Cheers to Society Social Calendar for featuring my painting "Cheers - Cambria Wine Festival" on the cover of it's current issue. I have always wanted to be on the cover of this magazine. Thank YOU!

This painting is currently on view and for purchase in The California Art Club's juried  "Cheers - A Toast To California Show".

Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Sitting Pretty" Museum Portrait Show

Portrait of Howard Boroughs By Johanna Spinks

A touching ribbon cutting celebration today of The Evelyn and Howard Borough's Childrens' Garden at the Museum of Ventura County with Mayor Cheryl Heitman and garden collaborator Barbara Meister. -and of course the fabulous Howard Boroughs. I was so lucky to get to paint this brilliant man.

Thanks also to The Ventura County Star for its'  "Salon to Selfie" article this week featuring my portrait of Howard, currently hanging in the Museum's great "Sitting Pretty" portrait show.

Catch details of this fabulous portrait show here:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Think Pink.

Pink on blonde hair? Yes, I'm most certainly in! A life sitting this week of the lovely Susanna via my palette knife. A hit or a miss? Time will tell, but she sure was a pretty miss. I love getting as much color as I can into places that you wouldn't expect it. Like blonde hair.

Single Life Sitting
Via Palette knife
By Johanna Spinks

Friday, August 21, 2015

Under The Microscope?

Dr. Donna Nofziger Plank
Face of Malibu Sitter Number 34
Kindly featured in The Malibu Times
Story here

Under the microscope? You bet! Painting scientist extraordinaire Dr. Donna Nofziger Plank in a single life sitting, two hours,  for my Face of Malibu portrait project with The Malibu Times. Sitter number 34. Thank you both. 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Dawn Of A New Day via Palette Knife

Dawn Of A New Day - Kim
By Johanna Spinks
Oil on linen via palette knife
All images copyrighted

It has taken me a while to get this portrait on canvas with my palette knife. I met this beautiful young lady last year learning about her very inspiring life story which I can't share here but I am hoping my painting of her shows my depth of feeling for this outstanding young woman.

Kim is one of those types of people that teaches others through her life story more than she could possibly know. We started out with a life sitting and then my palette knife took over from there. It wasn't an easy flow, as often happens when you are so engaged in something as an artist, and want to get it just right.

I may still have a bit of tweaking to do but the story in paint feels mostly told. Thank you Kim.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Handsome And Then Some.

Oil on linen, via palette knife
By Johanna Spinks

A great life sitting this week with the ever so handsome Salvatore. Such a classical face to paint. Yummy features and soulful eyes. When he walked in the room, I knew it was going to be a great few hours exploring his face with my palette knife. Hope you like.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Come Paint With In The Himalayas?

Join me for an unforgettable painting workshop to India, Fall 2016, non-painting partners welcome.
INDIA is a painter's dream. The sights and colors will not only challenge and charm your brush but take your breath away. From ancient temples, historic interiors and mountain ranges to working craftsmen and sari clad beauties, you will paint it all with me in this workshop in a way perhaps you have never done before and never will again on a painting trip.

This once in a lifetime workshop will focus on quick sketches 'out and about' of the local sights and people and even some interiors of the wonderfully historical places we will be staying. You will return home with a perfect painted record/journal  of your trip from which you can then make larger paintings at home. All mediums welcome. The images below are a sample of quick sketch I painted on the streets during my recent trip to India. On enrollment a supply list will be provided to you with suggestions on packing light for painting. I thank Yasin at Indus Tours in the U.K. for coming up with this amazing itineray, prompted by my last trip. We are staying in some breath-taking historical places. Join me for an incredible painting/life experience full of the sights, sounds and, oh, yes, those colors of India?

Email me with any questions or for complimentary trip catalog mailed to you.  For full details of itinery and pricing go here:

Examples of my quick sketch painted out and about on the streets of India Fall 2014

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Cheers! A Painting Toast To California

Cheers! Some good news. This painting of mine just got accepted into "A Toast To California Regional and Seasonal Show" run by the prestigious California Art Club.

As followers of this blog will know, this is from a series of paintings I am slowly working on called "High Days and Holidays" which I enjoy doing between my portrait commissions.

I have been blessed this year with some juried competition success with these paintings which is very rewarding including the "On Location in Malibu Show"at the Frederick R. Weisman Museum, closing today and the spring CAC "Romancing Europe" show.

I do these paintings just for myself to explore the play of light and color and the joy of life I see around me.  My heart and whimsy sure go into them. At first I was a little nervous putting them out into the world. But I am told when you feel this way about your art, it is a very good sign.

I hope you like...

"Cambria Wine Festival"
By Johanna Spinks
oil on linen panel
To see more of my fine art gallery, please visit

Show details here:

Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Best Kind of Day?

The Best Kind of Day
Johanna Spinks
oil on linen via palette knife

What's the best kind of day for me? A brand new model who is excited to be painted. And then painting alongside a good artist friend chatting while we go christening her lovely new studio. Via palette knife. Three hour sitting - ish.


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Flying By The Seat of My Portrait Pants via Palette Knife

Excited to get into the studio this morning working on a new palette knife portrait of a lovely young lady called Kim who has inspired me.

This one is from Friday, a three-hour life sitting of the lovely Lynette. I sure had fun. I worked 'inside out', a technique I first saw Morgan Weistling do, and then subsequently Jeremy Lipking. To truly work this way you don't do any preparatory drawing at all. Just start on a part of the face or body, say an eye, and get it correct before moving on to the thing next to it.

It is different from the way I usually work 'outside in', where you block in the whole head generally and then get more specific with the the features and likeness. I have been working this way for a long time taught me by my mentor Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler. It would certainly remain my method of choice for a portrait commission where I am not seeking a 'flying by the seat of my pants' art experience.

Both ways are good however and it's fun to shake it up a bit. I find my palette knife technique is really suited to working inside out but I still need a quick block-in drawing to make me feel like I know the rough placement of things on the canvas even though I don't feel the need to 'fill in' the block-in. If things change as I work inside out, that's fine and half the fun.

By Johanna Spinks
Oil on linen via palette knife.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Portrait Location- Wall Street Journal

Location, location, location?

Two portraits I did a very long time ago are included in an article today in The Wall Street Journal about a fabulous Malibu home, designed and conceived by two very clever people I know rather well.

So many congrats to Carolyn and Kevin Cozen. I watched this home being built from the ground up over a few years by these two talents. It is a true work of art and I am honored to have two paintings of their daughters hanging in it. That they didn't put them in a yard sale.

Designer Cozens' showpiece home: Photo Wall Street Journal
View from the other side of designer Cozens' home: Photo Wall Street Journal 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Official Bishop Portrait Gets Unveiled Today

Charleston unveiling this morning... my official portrait of the Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of South Carolina The Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg, pictured below, with myself and his lovely artist wife Annie.

What a wonderful honor to paint this great man in a large painting that took me quite a while to paint. I feel so blessed to be a portrait artist doing what I love and meeting such great people who inspire me and so many others. 
The Rt. Rev. Charles vonRosenberg

Flying in for the unveiling with Bishop Charles vonRosenberg and his wife Annie

Saturday, July 18, 2015

J.W.Waterhouse Sketchbooks

"The Victoria and Albert Tearoom"
24x18" via palette knife
By Johanna Spinks
For purchase

The block-in painted from life with that knife

Slowing working through

The background begins
Visiting the sketchbooks of J.W.Waterhouse within the vaults of The Victoria and Albert Museum. Wow!

I have long enjoyed a good scone, thick clotted cream and a nice cuppa especially in lovely British tearooms. I found myself once again in the tearoom of The Victoria and Albert Museum with its' beautiful Pre-Raphaelite windows that leave you breathless with wonder and so enjoying the moment.

I was also lucky enough to visit four of J.W. Waterhouse sketchbooks in this Musuem's collection which was a remarkable experience. Yes, I actually got to leaf through them with my bare hands. What an incredible artist J.W. Waterhouse was. I don't think anyone has yet come close to what he did with his brush and imagination.

So, all of this came together in my painting inspired by the tearoom and those sketchbooks. It was started from life painting the lovely model Amina in my teaching class and taken further during the days that followed. The windows are downplayed which I apologize for but sometimes you have to edit.

I hope you like.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Long And Winding Palette Knife Road

My journey with the palette knife continues, some days good, some days not...but I know I am pushing myself which I suppose is the point.

At this point I know what I can do with a brush.

The long and winding palette knife road? Leads you to your path? We'll see.

This is my quickie demo (90 minutes) from my life painting teaching class yesterday of the lovely artist/muse Mather Louth, painted on day two of a migraine. The model and pose gorgeous but a lot to take on in just 90 minutes.

I went for a color harmony of red and green trying to get as much color into Mather's skin as I could while still greying it down, working with that knife much like icing a cake. Fast.

I hope I am making some progress. What do you think?

Today I start another one, with a little more finish of a wonderful lady that I am excited about.

"Mather Louth"
Palette Knife Life Sketch
Oil on linen board
Johanna Spinks

My weekly studio class is always great fun. Great models and great poses.
Wednesdays 10 to 2pm
Join us?