Friday, March 29, 2013

Museum of Ventura County, now home for my FACES!

The Face of Ventura
By Johanna Spinks
Permanent Collection, the Museum of Ventura County.

I am thrilled to be able to announce today the Museum of Ventura County is now to be the permanent home to my "Face of Ventura"art project - 58 portraits of 58 extraordinary folk living and working in the wonderful town of Ventura, CA, USA.

All portraits were done in a single life sitting, no photos used, over a two year period. Each sitter's sketch and life story appeared in each edition of The Ventura Breeze thanks to publisher Sheldon Brown. Each sitter also then appeared on the Lyn Fairly and Friends Radio Show.

Thanks to EVERYONE  in the town of Ventura who made this art project so special.  Check out the You Tube from the show reception.

To read about each of the 58 sitters' unique life story please visit The Face of Ventura website:

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Portrait At the Museum of Ventura County

How I love this MAN
Mr. Howard Boroughs
Now in his 100th Year
Portrait By Johanna Spinks
The Museum of Ventura County 100th Year Birthday Show
The Face Of Ventura By Johanna Spinks, Collection.

100 kisses to Mr.Howard Boroughs, seen here next to my portrait of him last night at the Museum of Ventura County's 'Celebrating a Century' birthday bash. Great night. Great show "Prized Possessions: A Century of Collecting".

More to follow...

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Happy Portrait Client is A Good Thing

A recent portrait commission delivery. It was a biggie, five foot by three, and with its' five inch frame, only just able to fit in my car for delivery. Going to  home in Texas. Wonderful clients. And happy ones too, including the pooches.

Recent portrait commission delivery
Five foot by three
By Johanna Spinks

The client threw a lovely unveiling party for the portrait sitter.. A grand time was had by all.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Best En Plein Aire Box?

"The Way Forward. Malibu"
Johanna Spinks
Oil on Linens 4"x10"
Purchase at my online store :click

Painting at Peter Strauss Ranch yesterday with my "secret' box. It magically paints everything for me.

Recently I have been out and about painting a lot of sketches en plein air taking a much needed break from the rigors of portrait deadlines in the studio. More deadlines starting next week so I have made use of the time. It has felt marvelous. It has also felt like the ONLY thing I wanted to do. Nature equals nurture.

I have been around a lot of artists during these recent 'landscapades', and some GREAT ones, many from far afield, including at Jeremy Lipking's February workshop in an assisting role capacity to him. Now there's a guy who can paint landscapes!

There is a ton of  talk about painting boxes. Which is best?  Paint boxes seem more fascinating than how Marilyn Monroe really died or did O.J. do it? Along with a few other of life's great unanswered questions. 

Soltek versus the current hottie Alla Prima? Guerilla Pochade versus Mabef?  And all the other whizz boxes I don't even know the names of and can't spell. Sorry to say, I don't know the best one.  All I do know is these boxes are more expensive than a Mercedes monthly car payment, not that I have one of those. 

I also know expensive boxes won't make you a good landscape painter and they lend somewhat toward personal taste, like shoes.

I also know understanding values, composition, drawing, edges, and color temperature will make you paint well from an old shoe box.  Along with soul. A few creature comforts packed in that box, will also help you stay on location well.  Clothing in layers, hand wipes, trash bags for rags, sunscreen, bug spray, hat, water, cell phone, snacks, and I now keep my car keys on a tie around my neck. Lost keys on location? Big problem. I know to my expense.

So what do I use? I have spent my inheritance on every single thing Guerilla Painters pochade company ever made owning two of its boxes and every super sexy slinky dinky accessory. I was among this company's earliest of fans and sent many people to its' way. I have enjoyed these boxes. I have travelled internationally with them many times but my paintings often looked far from sexy or the way I wanted them to. Nothing to do with Guerilla. 

Now I use a box and set up that works for ME. It is a very personal thing. Only learned perhaps by doing it. These days I  like a very small lightweight compact set up that can be carried/rolled in one trip. NO going back to the car. I don't like to sweat and puff. Best of all, I have no care to defend it to those  art box purists.

My box was made for me by a retired police officer, the lovely Bob W.,  who I first found out about from the stellar artist Morgan Weistling during a workshop I did with Morgan in 2003. Bob was the model. 

Bob is a real craftsman as well as a dedicated artist. He makes art boxes for artists whose work he wants to collect. He and his lovely wife now have  an outstanding HUGE art collection by the way,  worthy of a museum, including, I am honored to say, two of mine.

Bob and I reconnected two years ago when I was lucky enough to assist Morgan Weistling at Weekend With The Masters. I told Bob how much I had wanted one of his boxes for a decade. Soon enough, I was invited to his home having a lovely time with him and his wife.

I can't tell you how much I treasure my box. I use it ALL the time. And I think about Bob, about to turn 80 years-old, each time. I know I will paint on it for the rest of my life. It gives me good vibes and confidence somehow whilst fitting my compact needs.

So that is what I think about art en plein aire boxes. Find what works for you. You will probably spend a bit of money so perhaps try an old shoe box first.

Bob, if you are reading this, I covet  that little attachment. You know the one I mean. Just saying...

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Morning Coffee and Paint...

My painting view this morning over morning coffee, the beautiful Saddlerock Peak near my studio. It lifts my spirits daily. Come paint it with me one day? At my summer workshop?

"Morning Inspiration"
Oil on linen board

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

How to Find The Focal Point

Inner Glow
$350, free shipping

All I was thinking in this demo at my teaching class, The California Art Institute, was to take something fairly complex, the human form, wrapped in a luscious robe, and make it simple, stupid.

Decide on a focal point and stick to it. This is also really important in landscape painting on site when the light is moving fast.

Deciding on the focal point can be obvious sometimes - or not. Tons of books have been written on the subject. Edgar Payne a favorite of mine for learning more about compositional concepts.

"Composition of Outdoor Painting" By Edgar Payne

I tend to trust my instincts and do what excites me, for better or worse!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

How to paint lace- or wear it.

"A Little French"
AKA "Paris Here I come"
12 x 16,
$500, free shipping
Pay via Pay Pal link on sidebar, top

Yesterday' s fun at my First Friday Atelier Day in the beautiful Malibu Highlands.

Come study with me this summer, Three Day Workshop. Great location. Great wine, Great food, Great company and GREAT PAINTING FUN

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Ms. Millie Decker
The Face of Malibu appearing in The Malibu Times
Oil on Canvas, 16 x 15, gold leaf.
Why do I love painting portraits so much? Because of moments like these and people like Millie Decker, Malibu's legendary cowgirl stilling roping in the charm at 92 years old. Her family was among the very first to settle in Malibu before it became, well, Malibu.I painted Millie in a single life sitting for  my Face of Malibu, a project of mine that is appearing in The Malibu Times. Storytelling meeting the painted portrait.

Please read about Millie here

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Painting Under Cool Light.

"Zumba Wrap"
By Johanna Spinks
Oil and Gold Leaf On Archival Board
free shipping

Come study with me this Friday, March 8th,  at my First Friday Atelier (delayed!) in the beautiful Malibu Highlands. 

 We will be painting from the life model under cool light conditions pretty similar to this sketch I painted at the weekend at my pal Jeremy Lipking's studio. He sure knows a thing or two about cool light and lots of folks had flown in for the weekend to see how he makes cool magic. Lipking's approach has made him one of today's most successful young figurative artists in the world. View his work: here

I have been lucky enough to be around Lipking quite a lot over the last year consolidating my art thoughts on a few things: first, that Lipking is truly a master of cool, among other things, and secondly, if one follows a few rules things seem to go a lot smoother.

Basically the rule of thumb is "where there is cool light, there are warm shadows". Art rules are usually meant to be broken but  I haven't seen this one broken too well.   If you have cool light and cool shadows, your sketch will be fit for the morgue - or the sitter will sure look like he/she is heading that way. Also, one can really push the shadows, making them warmer than they appear on the sitter. Transparent shadows are good too of course

Artists seem to have trouble with this cool skin stuff often sticking to the 'mustard and ketchup' approach,  mixing between a basic white, yellow and red to get PEACH. Many seem to paint PEACH for years before throwing a cool into it. 

I find it helps to have a basic mid-value mix on the palette that is cool,  to dip all my light mixtures into, avoiding any yellows until much later on.  That yellow will of course be a very cool one. Lemon yellow comes to mind. On this sketch, I used a grey pre-mix the color of fawn suede. Some super cool mauves, blues and pinks are handy to have around too.  Lipking taught me this. I don't think he would mind me sharing with you that he favors a mauve mix made from alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and white. He has been using this mix now for years.

I wouldn't get away perhaps with this cool skin tone on a portrait commission but, hey, art collectors of my non-portrait work seem, well, quite peachy about it.

Jeremy Lipking teaches year-round, all information at