Sunday, December 22, 2013

In My Arms

In My Arms

I’m tremendously thankful to see improvement in my work with the frequent practice I’ve been getting fulfilling custom orders in the last several months. I made the little girl’s eyes my main center of interest with the kiss coming in a close second. I love the glowing qualities in the skin of the woman’s arm and how I took liberties with that edge as well as the back of her neck! I am also very pleased with how well simplifying the woman’s face went for me this time around. I would have liked to have lost the edge of the girl’s cheek in shadow more, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It felt like it would sacrifice her likeness too much. Maybe next time!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

On My Shoulders

On My Shoulders

I’m really starting to figure out a formula that works for me when I paint smaller, simpler works like this one. Getting details like eye brows, lash lines, the corners of eyes, and nostrils correct is extremely important; the individuality of your subject is in these details. And if you paint those details correctly, the basic planes of the face can often be simplified more than you’d think possible and sometimes also the lips. I usually do my best to soften or omit creases under the eyes and around the nose because painting those details too strong is usually unflattering. Getting the character of the hair correct is also important, but one can usually manage to do that and be playful with the brush strokes at the same time because there is more room for interpretation. The background should be developed along with the hair, and there is always opportunity to have fun here. And if getting everything else right turned out to be a little tedious; you’ll feel more than ready to have some fun with the background. Fortunately for me, this painting felt like it painted itself, making the whole thing fun from start to finish. That doesn’t always happen, and I never take it for granted when it does!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Family Portrait

Family Portrait

A trio of siblings approached me through etsy to create this piece for their father’s 70th birthday gift, and I was thrilled to work with the sunlit photo they sent me. I love painting sunlit figures! The fun colors in the central figure’s fair skin and hair with her bright outfit are my favorite part of the painting. Combining cool light purples with warm peaches is becoming my favorite way to paint skin tones in direct light. This color combination choice also helped to contrast the range of skin tones these cousins have. 

To help unify this painting with so many figures and points of interest, I simplified the background to another of my favorite color combinations-yellow green grass and light blue sky. I also tried to keep the brushwork and value pattern simple. Both the parents and I feel the painting came together very well, and I’m looking forward to painting more works with this aesthetic soon! 

Saturday, September 7, 2013



I’m returning to subject matter I haven’t painted in years, small cityscapes from downtown Pensacola; and I’m liking it so much I can’t believe it took me so long to get back to it! The subject matter is far less demanding than figurative work in terms of accuracy which gives me more room to select and paint the details I find most beautiful. Painting this piece also helped me realize how much more I enjoy painting smaller, simpler works and how much more I prefer painting direct sunlight and shadow with the corresponding changes in color temperature. Painting is a journey!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The Finished Painting

Summertime Stories

I haven’t posted any work in a while because Ive been busy working part-time with my husband in our new business and working on this studio painting. We bought a print shop called Spike’s Printing that’s been in business in downtown Pensacola, FL, for 60 years. It’s the only print shop in Pensacola capable of letterpress, foil printing, embossing...all the fun stuff! My husband and I have both worked as designers for years; so, this is a very fun, new yet familiar venture for us and our creative energies. It’s very different from what we’ve been doing, and we are adjusting rapidly and loving it! 

I also haven’t painted any fine art, figurative work in a while because my etsy shop MadAboutHue has kept me busy with informal, color sketch work for my customers. It was very refreshing to do a piece just for me. 

I like to prepare for more involved paintings with an exploratory color sketch. This preliminary work helped me identify trouble areas, plan value patterns and color mixtures so that the larger painting progressed quickly and without having to paint over mistakes. The finished paint quality of my brush strokes is very important to me; I like them to look fresh and purposeful. 

They both feel like finished paintings to me. One of the pros in color sketch work is that working small liberates me to use simpler brush strokes and brighter colors. And the pro of more involved studio painting is getting to revel in all the beautiful details of the subject. I appreciate both!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Mother with Child

Mother with Child

The lady pictured here contacted me and asked if I would be interested in painting a portrait of her pregnant, and I thought, “What a great idea!” And she was able to provide me with such wonderful photos of her with dramatic rim lighting. When painting her face, I used a popular painter’s device of juxtaposing a vibrant peach/orange against a cool purple/blue. These are basically complementary colors, and I think this is my most successful use of this combination thus far! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Artichoke Heart & Lime Kiss

Artichoke Heart

Lime Kiss

I am finally starting to break away from that intense blue and move on to explore other vibrant color combinations. But if you’ll notice, Lime Kiss still has a little of it in the upper left hand corner. I just couldnt drop it altogether, although it may look like an afterthought if Lime Kiss is viewed out of context with my other recent fruit and veg still lifes.

I paint these little compositions to please myself; so, I enjoy pushing boundaries with color and composition. Artichoke Heart’s composition bleeds off the edge, and I used an exciting purple in the darkest shadows even though I didnt necessarily see it in my subject. I’m not certain that I’ll crop my subject like that again (maybe if it were a less complex shape), but I do love the purple! I want to try limes on that yellow orange again, but with a light purple blue back drop instead of robin’s egg blue. And next time, I’m going to shoot for a better contrast in the shadows; although, I still do like my subtle value pattern in Lime Kiss.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Avocado Blues & Red Hot Chili Peppers

Avocado Blues

Red Hot Chili Peppers

I’ve been painting a rash of veggie still lives from life on this blue plate, lately! The robin’s egg blue is SO much fun to work with and a striking backdrop for the colorful veg. I’m certain there are plenty of folks out there who would find these colors overkill; they speak to the graphic designer side of my taste preferences. “Less is more” and “keep it simple” are mottos written on my heart and are most evident in my limited brush strokes and color mixtures. I try to paint with as few pigments as possible, preferring to mix colors I need with pigments already in the painting instead of introducing a new one. The results are often surprisingly satisfying with an intuitive feel. For example, instead of reaching for viridian to paint the avocado’s dark skin, I mixed a little cad yellow deep into the manganese blue (the primary pigment in the blue background) and alizarin red mixture that I used for the shadows on the plate. And it reads like the correct green. Manganese blue already leans toward green, anyway.

Still in the “less is more” vein, I’ve been experimenting with covering as much area as possible with a single color before laying down a new one. The results have been very satisfying as well as liberating! Not being overly distracted with all the wonderful details in my subject has allowed me to paint my subject “how I think it should be.”

And lastly, I’ve been working on developing strong value patterns early in a painting; which also speaks to the graphic designer in me! Whether or not a graphic design piece can communicate at all is dependent upon proper value contrasts between the individual elements in the design. Successful paintings hinge on this rule as well, and I think these paintings demonstrate good contrast.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Color Sketch

Summertime Stories

Here’s an 8x10 color sketch that I recently finished up. Artist’s frequently find it helpful to paint small, practice versions of their subject before working on larger compositions. Color sketches give you a chance to experiment with color combinations and value patterns. They free you up to take more risks and make it easy to step back and objectively decide what’s working and what isn’t.

The main challenge for this piece is that it falls into a warm light/cool shadow color scheme because of the sunny, outdoor lighting. The reason why this lighting is challenging is because it works against the limitations of the pigments available to artists. White is the coolest color on the palette, and white is what we use to lighten yellow paint to resemble sunlight falling on objects. If we use too much white in the yellow, the light will appear too cool for the rest of the color scheme. The way around this difficulty is to establish a mix of white and yellow that is light enough to pass for sunlight, but still feels warm. The light that you are seeing in real life is probably lighter than what you are painting; so, you transpose the rest of the colors and values darker to compensate for the light, warm yellow not being as light as what you see. This creates a believable impression of the lighting you are looking at, and that is how artists get around the limitations of their pigments in painting warm light/cool shadow. Next time you see a painting of the sunny outdoors, look to see if you can spot what I’m talking about.

I think on the whole that this color sketch turned out successfully, and I’m really looking forward to fleshing out this concept further in a larger size painting.