Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Craziest Royal Wedding Portrait?????

This has to be the craziest example of royal wedding fever? I found it on the internet and realized we are indeed in the middle of a nuptial frenzy like no other...

So with that in mind, I post my drawing of Kate I did last year during the 365 Challenge. GO KATE and WILS!!!

Some people really do take things too far.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Heaven sent...

Sometimes you get a good demo, most times you don't -they are average due to the nature of the beast. This is how I feel about demos. I am rarely able to get in the 'zone' around teaching. I have made peace with this.

You paint 'what you know' accepting you are teaching a lesson and hoping to show that lesson well for students.

I like this one tho', my demo from Vita this week. The sitter is an art student from my gifted teen class with a heavenly face. She is very reserved in person but, boy, did she look at me right in the eyes all the way through the sketch. I could have painted her for hours. She was also wearing one of my favorite vintage hats from my collection.

I set myself a challenge to hang on to the original 'hot' toned canvas on much of her face keeping some of the original drawing lines too. That made it a success for me. I knew when to stop before I messed it up by rushing and overworking. It also meant my drawing was 'on'.

Thank you Juliana.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Mural Master, Face of Ventura Project

Always an honor to paint another artist...this is THIS week's 'Face of Ventura' sitter appearing in The Ventura Breeze newspaper, the incomparable Ms. MB Hanrahan, muralist extraordinaire and an artist I really admire. A true artist thru and thru! I sure had fun paintings her dreadlocks too.

Thanks as always to Sheldon Brown of The Ventura Breeze

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Surf's Up...

Class demo at Vita Art Center this week...a 13 year old surfer sitter. Come join the's up! I love to paint 'real' people in my teaching class. Fun to grab them off the street.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tattoo Me? Face of Ventura Project.

I have been lucky enough recently to teach some of the best tattoo artists in the Ventura area who ink just about everybody and anybody who want a really good tat!

They are very talented with line and see value really well. They push me as a teacher. Plus, they are really cool and I am not, but they don't make me feel that way. They laugh at my jokes too.

I chose one of them, Manuel Valenzuela, to be my next sitter for The Face of Ventura Project appearing in The Ventura Breeze. was painted from life in a single sitting of about two hours. We met when he showed up at studio Open House and bought a painting. We had a connection of mutual respect as artists. Read about this great guy here:

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Food Share's Bonnie Weigel...Face of Ventura Project

I am a little behind posting my Face of Ventura project sitter this month...I wanted to make sure this special lady, Bonnie Weigel of Food Share, got air time with her story. She is someone I really admire. Brains, beauty, and soul, fighting a really worthwhile cause, hunger.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"Waiting, Tiananmen Square"...A Valued Approach

I just completed my new Chinese painting, "Waiting, Tiananmen Square", thanks to my daughter's recent visit there. Painting it, I am reminded of the principles of balance in all things.

So, inspired by own quiet thoughts this week painting this little girl so far away in China, I wrote a class handout tonight thinking about new students coming to either one of my new teaching semesters beginning tomorrow. Let me know your thoughts...


There are no rules, just tools.

I teach a certain art ‘alphabet’ through my art eye as my great teacher says. The 'language’ is YOURS to make your own through dedication and repeated practice, especially drawing and painting from life.

Every teacher teaches a slightly different alphabet. Don’t fall victim to the endemic art disease ‘PARALYSIS BY ANALYSIS’. Too many teachers, too many classes. Stick with a school of painting to really learn for a LONG while, until you feel you understand it. Random WORKSHOP-ITIS will get you nowhere but your wallet will feel lean by about $500 each time, plus supplies. Don’t be a kid in an art candy store. Pick your favorite candy. Chew. Suck. Mull the flavors over.

Buy every art book you can afford around THE school of painting you like. Set those books up when you paint. See the level you aspire to. Allow yourself a few years to ‘look’ like a bad replication of your teacher. This is normal and required. Then move on. You have to be unique and share your own art voice, point of view. There can never be another Rembrandt but we sure can learn from him.

DRAW!!! Often. You don’t need to pay for this class. IT is free and worth its weight in art gold. It separates the men from the boys. It is the biggest challenge I have faced. And continues to be. DRAW!!

VALUES comes first. Color second. You can paint a face purple and it will look great if you understand values and how to turn the form. It becomes second nature after a while. But it does take a while to get down. Keep it simple. Three values for the light, two for the dark, never the two families of light and dark ever wishing to meet. Like families, they are having a row and hate each other. Forget Thanksgiving.

BALANCE: Every painting must have this.

BALANCE in value range: Don’t paint what you see. Paint what you know. Push the effect. Gear your painting to a ‘lighter’ value painting with your mid values going higher or lower value painting, with your mid values going darker. YOU decide to your art eye what fits. Control the value pattern.

BALANCE in color: Use your color wheel. LEARN IT. It is easy. Choose to paint with three primaries for a long while, plus black and white. Especially on art trips! Handcuffs are on. Select compliments. Red with green, yellow with purple, orange with blue.

BALANCE in temperature, Cool versus warm and vice versa. Remember, your ‘grayed’ color is the stage to show off the raw, vibrant color. Like a good, rich French sauce over a bland piece of steak. It will sing. Your viewer will want desert. It has taken me a while to learn this.

BALANCE in brush work application: rough next to smooth. A bore says it all with too much of either. Quiet is needed. Excitement is needed. Just like in life. Too much of either makes one dull.

BALANCE in paint application: thick impasto areas of the canvas thick as cream, thin areas transparent as a silk stocking. Keeping things transparent is hard. How many times have I lost transparent stockings from over-working or drawing errors?

BALANCE IN COMPOSITION: a thread of dark in a sea of light, as thread of light in a sea of dark. Painting without these contrasts fall as flat as pancakes.

BALANCE IN YOUR ART VOICE; allow yourself to some days paint angry like Van Gogh, some days paint quiet like Vermeer. Don’t question this. I often do and it is a mistake. TRUST THE ART SPIRIT

BALANCE IN SELF-BELIEF. Know some days you will find it hard. Some days it will flow. Some days you will get into competitions, some days, in fact most days, you won’t.

BALANCE IN ART VIEW. Some like to be Sunday painters, some like to be professionals. Both are equally important.

BALANCE IN EGO. Let it e-go. There will always be someone who paints better than you unless you are very lucky, especially gifted, or my mentor. There will always be someone from centuries ago who knew so much more about classical art than we do now. Rembrandt? Vermeer? Waterhouse?

Therefore, be gracious to your art neighbor. Being competitive is counter productive. Instead, play forward whatever knowledge you have been blessed with or learn tomorrow. I most certainly teach because of that. I only write all of the above because I have been blessed by great art people, a magnificent mentor, along with a great art school. I have studied and learned from all of this along with my art books. You are all on my book list. And, of course, I am still on the journey.


Saturday, April 9, 2011


Don't miss this! I am doing a limited edition of my book "365 Days of Drawing By Johanna Spinks", Oscar Gold hard cover, (well of course!) including an ORIGINAL personalized drawing from the challenge , featured in the book.

I was blessed also to have the incomparable Mr. Everett Raymond Kinstler, N.A., master painter of seven U. S. presidents, portraitist of 'Who's Who' in America over the last half-century, and a draughtsman like no other, write a forward to my book.

I have studied the teachings of this great and gracious man for quite a few years now. It has been a magical journey leading me to a point in my art of wanting to get to the next level in my drawing - hence the very public 365 day drawing challenge in 2010, documented almost daily on social media.

Mr. Kinstler (// wrote -

"Every serious artist knows that drawing is the grammar and gut of good painting. It's partly a matter of learning what to leave out.

Johanna Spinks was stimulated to challenge herself to do a drawing a day for one year.

Share with me her passion and talent as she explores line and color on a flat surface, creating a two-dimensional journey into a world of faces, figures, objects, and places, all filled with joy, movement, and Jo's unique personality."

Forever thanks Mr. K.

I am happy to say the book includes an image of every single drawing done during the year, many turned into paintings, and a written overview of the year by myself. It is a record of an incredible year in drawing and lessons learned putting yourself out there artistically in a very public drawing challenge.

I had the tremendous help of a new company called "Flaunt Your Photos".

I could NOT have done it without FYP, a company geared toward helping artists in particular (but other normal folks too!) do just what I did. It was painless too, I have to say. Mrs. Peggy Kinstler founded FYP and she is used to working with artists being married to the above named master artist!

Peggy's great art editing eye and vast publishing experience, was priceless. 365 sketches plus other year images AND text, found themselves nestled into the new pages of this book within 10 days or so! Thanks for working so hard for me Peggy.

365 Days of Drawing
Limited Edition, gold hardcover, 12" x 12"
$150. incl. tax, shipping and original drawing from the year signed by artist.

contact artist

Use Paypal button, top of blog to the right.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Make your brown eyes blue?

Nothing more pleasing for me than painting a pretty girl with beautiful green eyes - for a class demo yesterday, about two hours.

Kept it simple. 18 x 24

Ok..I know you are reading THIS blog out there (from all over the world) because I have a widget that tells me so.

So tell me what YOU think! Don't it make your brown eyes blue? If not, what does? Don't be shy.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Well, not exactly. But I do like sometimes to concentrate on a specific thing in a teaching class demo, as in this case - the color harmony of red and green - rather than sticking to a formula.

This was my demo in my portrait class at Vita Art Center in Ventura...the model, actually a real person, had crazy wild great with light blonde streaks. No point playing it safe. And of course her hair is my favorite part of the sketch. Simple as that, 1...2...3...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

California Gold Rush...

Whatta weekend! My solo show opened to a full house on Friday night. Better than gold. Then a race Saturday to The California Art Club Gold Medal 100th Anniversary Show Reception at The Pasadena Museum of California Art where my painting 'Geek Chic' appears. A lovely brunch followed Sunday, given by CAC, for the artists in the show. Again, pure gold.

Thanks to everyone who made the weekend so very special...I was in some very lovely gold company all weekend long.

Now I just want to paint! No more organizing and worrying about shows. NO more anything....just paint!

Details coming about how to purchase my limited edition book '365 Days of Drawing' which comes with a high quality print of the book cover which is of course GOLD!

Saturday, April 2, 2011