Wednesday, August 31, 2011

My Class Demo -What was I thinking?

Class demo at The California Art Institute: What was I thinking? 18 x 24

Keep the skin tone overal cool
Catch the rim light on her hair
Feel 'it'
Make the separation of light and shadow strong but subtle
Connect with the sitter

Feel 'it'
Feel 'it'
Feel 'it'

THIS IS WORKING, at least for now.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Focus on The Masters With Ms. Donna Granata


End of the sitting, a great meeting of the art spirit! Read Donna's Story This Week in The Ventura Breeze
I was so looking forward to painting Ms. Donna Granata for my FACE OF VENTURA PROJECT. I had heard so much about her and her impressive work. She is an extraordinary portraitist in her own right. Highly intelligent and one class act. Ms. Granata also founded FOCUS ON THE MASTERS here an impressive ongoing archival project to record the lives of many extraordinary artists and their work in the county of Ventura. I attended a TV taping of Donna's interview a couple of years ago with David Leffel for said FOCUS and was very moved by her interview of this great man.

Plus, Donna also has a great face to paint.

It was a lovely meeting of the art spirit and mind.


MY FACE OF VENTURA PROECT is kindly featured in The Ventura Breeze every issue and I am excited that each sitter will now be appearing on The Lyn Fairly Show, "Lyn Fairly and Friends" Saturdays at noon. KVTA News Talk Radio 1520 AM . Please listen in...

Thank you Lyn and Sheldon Brown of The Breeze!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The New Romantic Figure Show Opening...What was I thinking?

I went to the opening of 'The New Romantic Figure" show last night in California considering myself a bit of a romantic now and again.

It was a smaller show than I was expecting. It was a good show. I enjoyed it. Happy to see artists I really admire, like Jeremy Lipking, show me once again how a figure should be painted.

Lipking's work is flawless. A master. Period. Click here

Seeing the whole collection, I was also reminded , and oddly reassured, of the challenges us artists face painting the figure well, romantically or not. Anatomy, anatomy, anatomy. Good values and accurate drawing in the right place. There are no short cuts. There is no forgiveness in a badly rendered neck, deltoid muscle or hand. Time put in results in, well, good results out.

I was also stunned by some of the frames on these paintings. They looked like huge pieces of coffin-esque furniture and surely cost as much. I could take a pass on those.

One huge drawing by Russian born artist Alexey Steele Click here was worth the visit alone. Where did he get a piece of drawing paper that large, we were all wondering? He spent a long time on that drawing, that I can tell you. And it was masterful.

Alexey Steele coined the term "Novorealism", a new art movement spearheaded with his talented art buddies Jeremy Lipking and Tony Pro. Click here The movement's aim, I believe, is about reviving romantic realsim and idealism in this new century but don't quote me on that. Art movements come and go, names sounding a bit like birth control are chosen, but I think these three stellar guys, Pro, Steele and Lipking are going to be a big force for quite while with their work. A sturdy base of a three-cornered art pyramid, that others will build on, and aspire upwards to greater heights.

Catch the show...worth the visit.

Kwan Fong Gallery
California Lutheran University
60 West Olsen Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
August 20 thru' September 30

Featuring work by Jeremy Lipking, Tony Pro, Michael Lynn Adams, Peter Adams, Cyn McCurry, Michael Pearce, Mia Tavonatti

Image posted here is nothing to do with this show. It is by me and I feel quite romantic about it.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Demo Re-do..What was I thinking?

I have a part of me that just can't rest until I have solved a niggling art puzzle in my mind. The jigsaw pieces of learning.

Somewhat unhappy with yesterday's demo in my teaching class, see previous blog post, I allowed myself some time today to do a study from that class demo to figure out for myself what I would have liked to have seen come off my brush.

This is what I was thinking:

*too slap-dash looking
*not sensitive enough
*you can do so much better
*don't let sleeping dogs (demos) lie. learn from them.

So this is what I am now thinking:

* I am glad I worked on my art puzzle.
* it is rewarding.
*it is part of the journey
*paint by numbers much easier - and possibly in my future

How to paint different skin tones... WHAT WAS I THINKING?

Class demo at The California Art Institute yesterday,,, Asian skin tones are fun to what was I thinking?

*warm versus cool
*catch the shimmery glow
*I have made this head too large for my liking
*I wish I had started again
*always be willing to change
*hot or cold lunch?
*food in England is so good (model's and my conversation)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


This young man is a future president of The Unites States, of that I am sure. He is already involved in politics as he heads off to college with big plans ahead.

His lovely mother commissioned me to do his portrait, honoring this special time in his life, in a single three hour sitting from life with no photos, and that is what we did around lots of chat and fun. He is one smart and engaging person. I was thrilled that he had spent hours researching a portrait artist online, knew a lot about art and my painting heros, and wanted an artist who had a "brushy" style. YES!!!!!

So what was I thinking during this single sitting?

*make this good. don't disappoint his trust in you and your work.

*get a good block-in fast. this inspires confidence in the client always.

*pay attention to the shape of his closely cropped hair, always key to a likeness. cropped hair is a challenge.

*work edges well to avoid cut-out effect of said cropped hair.

*handsome deep set eyes...but paint them open and engaged with 'me'. I spent quite a bit of time on this to get the feel I wanted.

*mass in the clothing in bold strokes,,,more time to spend on the handsome face.

*make that red tie sizzle, the brightest bright in the portrait

*will I get his portrait when he is president?

*must get his email

*Thank goodness I became a citizen of the US. Phew, I wouldn't get a presidential commission otherwise. Worth that $10,000 I paid.

Well, providing I get that president...

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Face of Ventura By Johanna Spinks

This is Mati Waiya, this week's sitter for my Face of Ventura project. Mati is a Chumash ceremonial leader and dolphin dancer and founder of The Wishtoyo Foundation.

I have now painted twenty sitters for this project. You can catch each one on The Lyn Fairley Show Saturdays at noon KVTA News Talk Radio 1520 AM

It was the first time someone has burned sage in my studio before I started a painting of them to ward off evil shenaningins . I liked the feel of that and might make it a habit.

Friday, August 12, 2011

How to paint a demo...what was I thinking?

Well, what do I know really? But this is my class demo from The California Art Institute this week. So here is what was I thinking?

*when will this get easier?

*why can't I paint like my idols?

*why can't I paint like myself?

*planes, planes, planes and not the flying kind.

*edges, edges, edges. I want a 'distressed' kinda look to the study.

*hold on to the transparent dark side of form on this thirsty paint sucking board, no matter what.

*did that student just leave because he has a stomach ache or is bored?

*my likeness is good and fast...GREAT as I have still been working on my drawing since my 365 day drawing challenge ended.

*why do my fingers end up in the paint almost as much as my brush?

*lead poisoning will kill me before I ever get "this" painting thing the way I want it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

365 Days of Drawing Hits The Stands

Thanks to American Artist Magazine for giving a nod to my '365 Days of Drawing' challenge to myself, successfully completed, last year. The issue I am appearing in, is now on the newstands.

Who would have thought when I was battling through some of those long drawing days of 2010 through murders, fires and muggings, (oh, no. wait, that is this year!) I would see it appearing here some eight months later? Not me. I am so appreciative my challenge got recognized by AA.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


I get excited by working on really hot grounds. This is a work in progress, a portrait of a young artist who walked into my studio the other day complete with a hot pink head piece she had made and long dreadlocks.

At first the fuchsia ground seemed like a good idea. Then it seemed too much and I thought to scrap it. Today, I am enjoying it again. I am hanging on to that hotness as long as I can - just like in life.

You will never completely get rid of a hot ground. There will be little specks flickering through. It also makes me focus on thin paint versus thick paint and distressing the canvas in places with a knife.

Hot hot hot.