Thursday, January 29, 2015

Veuve Cliquot - Figure Drawing

Here's another drawing I worked on this week using a technique I first saw in Barcelona done by the amazing street portrait painters there.

It is actually oil rubbed on paper, not charcoal. The second time I went back to Barcelona I specifically looked for a street artist who could spoke english and explain the technique to me. I was lucky enough to find someone. I remember boring my two young children in tow and the very gracious female artist who shared freely with me.

So on return to the U.S.  I started to work with this technique really fine-tuning it in 2010 when I drew every day for a year.

I am still really grateful I did that year in drawing. It changed me as an artist and is very much part of who I am and how I think today.


"Veuve Cliquot"
By Johanna Spinks
12"x 18"
Oil on Paper
For purchase at my online store

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cosmopolitan - Figure Drawing

It's been a busy week in the studio so far starting two new large portrait commissions but I have also taken some time to do some drawing in the evening. This is a technique you maybe remember seeing a lot of in my 365 Days of Drawing Challenge, successfully completed, and featured in American Artist Magazine in 2011.

I feel in tip top shape after some time spent at my drawing board away from actual easel time.  There is a saying: "If you  don't practice your drawing it will soon disappear", and I think never a truer word has been spoken. Drawing is a separate discipline from painting although the two go hand in hand at the easel.

Drawing the full figure often flexes the drawing muscle.

I'll post another tomorrow.

12" x 18"
Mixed media on paper
For sale at my online store

Friday, January 23, 2015

General Tips on Painting A General

Lieut. General Sir Harold Fawcus
Director of The British Red Cross
1876- 1947
By Johanna Spinks

Close-up...All those medals! Keep them simple.
Go for the structure. Thanks to Philip De Laszlo for always showing me the way.  John Singer Sargent too. I researched both men for their military portraits.

Keep the paint fresh. This head was painted in two sittings.

Get the main details going before you ice the cake, i.e. paint all those details. Good photo reference. Do your homework. Look to the masters for inspiration. Study. Study.

A strong drawing start as the foundation and a nice warm ground to paint some good cools on top.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Painting Dog Portraits

People a few years ago, seeing I did people portraits, started asking me if I would dog portraits in a hushed tone, as if painting dogs was very different from painting people.

Well, actually it's not. Yes you have to deal with lovely lush fluffy fur, moist wet eyes, and chilly shiny noses (on dogs not people), but I approach a dog's head portrait exactly like a person's.

Getting the structure of a dog's head is very important to catch the nature of the dog's breed. Getting the structure of a human head is the same. You can spot a likeness of a person from across the street in dim light oftentimes by the outline shape of their head.

Then I search for my 'point of view'of that pooch, just like with a human face. What are they feeling, what are they thinking. Who IS this dog? Who IS this person? What makes them different from another of their species.

Lastly, I just let myself have fun with paint with the tools I have learned over the years once the block-in is set. How 'wet' can I get that nose to look with my paint, how 'fluffed out' can I make those furry edges.  And don't forget those eyes. Your guess who I am talking about here!

Eyes are the windows to the soul in all species but especially in a dog. How many times have I melted into my own dogs' eyes.

Here I post a few recent dog commissions including the block-in start of a new one shipping to the U.K.  I am going to have a hard time parting with it. I feel I made a new friend. Woof woof.

Fresh off the easel
The block-in

Saturday, January 3, 2015

2015 Art Scholarhship - A Student In Need?

I am looking to give one scholarship this year to an art student in need. Do you know of a young person in the Greater Los Angeles area who would benefit from my teaching class and painting the model all year long, my gift to them? 

If so, have that student email me at

My teaching class resuming  Wednesday January 14th, at my studio is now FULL.

RESERVE your spot for the next six week session beginning March 11th.

Four  hours with the life model, 10 am 2 pm.

Six week semester $300.00

Single session by appointment only $68.00