Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hip Hop Hipster, Palette Knife Portrait

Hip Hop Hipster
Oil Palette Knife Portrait
By Johanna Spinks
12 x 16

Hot off the easel today, my latest palette knife portrait. You have a 50 percent chance of a success or a disaster with a palette knife...painting on a knife's edge so to speak.

I don't usually have such a developed drawing for a pallet knife portrait,  but hey, it was there, so I used it. You can see it changed a lot by the finish of painting time.

Friday, July 26, 2013


By Johanna Spinks

Sometimes it's good to shake out the old, bring in the new. A bit like changing old breadcrumb laden sheets for crisp new linens.

Announcing my new TUMBLR


All about my current exploration of palette knife portrait painting. Please join me.

Visit here:

Yes, I will still be posting here I and thank you for sharing the journey, as always.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"# Plaid" - Jeremy Lipking

"# Plaid - Jeremy Lipking"
12" x 16"
 By Johanna Spinks
Palette Knife

I just did this palette knife portrait of Jeremy Lipking. He was wearing some very cool shades in The Sierras which caught my eye. I love it when that happens. You just itch to paint them. I had to get through quite a few mountain ranges with my brush first but I knew the job would get done. Quite a challenge to resist picking up a brush for those shades. As soon as you do, it's all over.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Painting in The Sierras With Jeremy Lipking

I recently had the privilege of accompanying my pal, master painter Jeremy Lipking, in an assisting role for his magical "Painting in The Sierras" workshop.

I also had the same gift given to me last summer  traveling in the same capacity with Lipking  and his workshop gang to Sweden and Zorn-Land for his truely amazing workshop there.

Check out

Yes, I consider myself in the fortunate category.  But an assisting role is not always a cushy number. You don't want things to go wrong while traveling in large groups and feel responsible if there is a hiccup of any sort. You want everyone to be happy, especially the artist hosting the workshop who is working very hard.

I sometimes think students don't quite appreciate exactly how hard the host artist works.The days were often long for Lipking on both workshops as he might work into the night doing a demo or feature a guest speaker around a casual dinner event after a full day of painting.

Preparation is the assistant's key and double-checking things. A smile on your face helps too, even when you don't feel like it.

This I am good at, having taught for quite a few years myself.

These are the main things I learned during my five days in The Sierras with Lipking painting the most beautiful mountain ranges, lakes, and rocks.

*Gratitude: for an artist of Lipking's mastery, that he has the desire to share his knowledge in the most giving way. Lipking is a patient, kind and thorough teacher. Oh, and did I mention inspiring?

* Love the land you paint: it was obvious Lipking has a keen knowledge of The Sierras accumulated over many years of visiting the area from childhood, personally climbing its' high mountain ranges as a young lad while quietly studying the trees/leaves/plants of the terrain. This remarkable knowledge and views of this land have appeared  in many of his paintings.

*Simplify the land you paint: Lipking took a complicated mountain vista and edited it down into some beautiful simpler value shapes. Quickly too.

* Push the color: Lipking is considered  by most a tonalist painter but I saw him push the color on this trip, for example he painted the lake water far more turquoise blue in his sketches than I saw it.  Similarly a sketch of trees yielded vibrant violets.  Delightfully so.

* Push the values: on one mountain sketch Lipking deliberately painted the foreground much darker than it really was to play up the mountain range behind. I hadn't thought to do this.

* Paint the small everyday things too: a stove in a log cabin. The aged green doorway. These have all appeared in Lipking paintings.

*Paint waterfalls like your are painting a staircase: think of water going down stairs with a top plane and a drop plane. Subtle value changes. Cool versus warm depending on the light source. Rocks get this treatment too.

*Paint the air: this is hard and Lipking is magical at this using tonal mixes often keyed into a violet/purple pre-mix to reflect the cool light conditions he favors.

*Paint transparency slowly: Lipking kinda sneaked up on the underwater rocks he was painting. He laid down far less top water reflections from the sky above than one would think saying this would make a sketch look more amateur-ish. He held back on putting these few top reflections until the very end of his two hour sketch.

* Always be vigilant: your next masterpiece could be right in front of your nose. On the drive up pre-workshop suddenly we were amid a huge flock of sheep at sundown. Lipking had seen them in the distance and flew off the main road to capture them while my nose was in a bag of newly purchased BBQ flavored roadkill from Gus's Jerky stand. Well, of course!

*Study Edgar Payne: Lipking brought the book  "Edgar Payne; The Scenic Journey" with him. Payne loved the Sierras and painted his heart and soul recording the area just like Lipking is doing. I really love this inspiring book.

purchase here.

* Be patient: even if a sketch doesn't work out, as in my case, you learn something through the observation. No time painting from life is EVER wasted.

* Allow 24 hours to judge your work:  I thought my first sketch of the trip terrible. Now, it is one of my favorites. It is honest and my voice.

*Find a good food outlet: this we did at the rocking Whoa Nellie Deli. Best fish tacos ever. I even bought the sweatshirt.

*Get the right gear: mosquito repellent doesn't work amid swarming mosquito attacks. Mosquitoes bite through clothing. Carry a face net. They work. Body net anyone?

*Travel light: get everything in to one backpack especially water.

*Gratitude again for the gift of art and great artists in my life. Thanks to all the traveling artists who made  this workshop so special especially maestro Lipking.

All images copyright.

Jeremy Lipking Wows With a Waterfall

The gang at sunset

My favorite sketch of the trip by Jeremy Lipking. He made it look effortless.
The Mysteries of Painting Explained Patiently - Jeremy Lipking
Mosquito net required. Even John Singer Sargent would have worn one -Jeremy Lipking

Fellow traveller sketch by Johanna Spinks

Sketch By Johanna Spinks

Fellow traveller sketch by Johanna Spinks

Sketch By Johanna Spinks

My painting set-up
Sketch by Johanna Spinks

Mosquito Net Hat, Johanna Spinks

Spectacular Sunday Morning Demo of Bloody Mountain By Jeremy Lipking

Jeremy Lipking demos different light affects

Jeremy Lipking demos transparent water, note the bugs!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Back From Beyond

Mr. Doug Rucker
 The Face of Malibu Series
Life sitting, one hour and thirty.

I wouldn't recommend doing a life sitting the day before major surgery but that's what I did. Newspaper deadlines have to be met.

And I am grateful to my latest Face of Malibu sitter Doug Rucker, architect of many Malibu homes, for putting up with me that day.

Not often you get a style of  home named after you but Doug's homes became known as "Ruckers".  His sketch and life story appear in this week's Malibu Times.

Read his story here: