Animals · portraits

After over a year… (IMAGE DUMP!)

The guilt over neglecting this blog has finally become too much! I’m trying to catch up with so many things in the past year. After a lengthy period of sharing caregiving duties with a sister for our mom (who had dementia) the “new normal” is requiring some adjustment. Furthermore, there were other things that have happened in the last year, things that kept me from painting (or updating this blog) as much as I’d like.

I can’t say that everything is now perfect and normal, but when is it ever? All I can say is that things are gently pushing upward. For that I am grateful.

Anyway, I have done many paintings in the last year. I’ll post many of them in future posts, but just want to share a select few here:

Backlit Tiger – 8×8″ oil on canvas panel.

I’m going through a “tiger phase.” This is just one tiger example. I’m not done yet! I’ve got many more tigers (and other big cats) to paint! If painting tigers is wrong, I don’t want to be right! Continue reading “After over a year… (IMAGE DUMP!)”

paintings · portraits · Tutorials

An experiment in acrylics & limited palette

“Jason in Acrylics,” 4×5″ acrylic on canvas panel. Thanks to Jason Aaron Baca (model) and Portia Shao (photographer) for the stock photo used as reference!

Another experiment with student paint (sort of) as well as an attempt to get better at acrylics! I dabbled with some acrylics recently, and was so abysmal at it, that I have now decided to try to improve my skills. I don’t recall having such dire issues with acrylics when I was much younger, but I paint differently now, I guess. Continue reading “An experiment in acrylics & limited palette”

Misc. Stuff · paintings · portraits

“Male Profile” and my new studio

I’ve been absent from this blog for too long! That’s mostly because I’ve been busy migrating all my stuff to a new, bigger studio.

I have waaaay too much stuff, particularly art stuff, like panels, boards, paints, brushes, and other art STUFF. My previous studio, while very cozy, was too cramped for all my STUFF. One day I snapped and said, “This is it!” and decided to move to a new studio, which is far roomier.

But first, a new painting. “Male Profile,” again using my fave model, Jason Aaron Baca (photographer Portia Shao).

“Male Profile,” 6×6″ oil on panel.

I tried to go with a looser feel in this portrait and think I like the direction I’m going. The palette was simple—I don’t think I technically used a Zorn Palette, but I did try to keep it limited. Really loving the limited palette these days.

Now onto the studio—it’s not huge, but so much bigger than my postage-stamp-sized previous studio. Not that I didn’t love that studio too (got a LOT of work done there!) but I was running out of room, fast. Something had to give! And this new studio can accommodate a computer & scanner, and even a little kitchenette of sorts (hot plate, dorm fridge, and so forth). Very conducive to getting a lot of work done, I hope!

View of Studio

This is just a small view of the studio, which still needs to have more STUFF schlepped in to it. I’m trying to be sure to protect the carpet from the oil paint, as you can see with the variety of rugs and so forth littering the floor!

paintings · portraits

Black Hat

“Black Hat” 8×10″ oil on panel. Thanks to Cathleen Tarawhiti on dA for the beautiful photo I used as reference!

The latest effort, only I’ve been picking at it and picking at it for a while now . . . I don’t know why some paintings are like that. There are the paintings that come together in a few hours, and then others that I have to revisit and fix this and fix that. Why why why? 😉

I liked the simple color scheme in this one (lots of black and grey) and the drama of the pose.

A very limited palette was used on this one. I maybe used some magenta or perm. alizarin crimson somewhere, but for the most part I tried to limit it to Zorn: White, Black, Vermillion (Cadmium Red Light), and Yellow Ochre. There wasn’t much need for many more colors than that.

I used an 8×10″ acrylic-primed panel from Dick Blick, it’s got a canvas-like texture which I kind of like!

paintings · portraits

Long Neck, Zorn Palette

“Long Neck – Zorn Palette” 8×10 inches, oil on canvas panel

I’ve mentioned the Zorn Palette before. It’s a limited painting palette that consists of four colors: White, Black, Vermillion (Orangey-red) and Yellow Ochre. It’s incredible how many colors can be achieved with just these four paints! The background on this painting “looks” blue, but it’s just black and white mixed together. (Black is often a bit cool, which will create the illusion of a muted blue.) The purple in the shadow side of her face is a mixture of white, black, and vermillion. Mixing colors was so fun for this painting!

Here’s another recent example of the Zorn palette in action. (Scroll down the page to see the second painting.)

Again I used a stock photo for reference. Thanks go to shewarmachine.

Misc. Stuff · paintings

Oil paint & Sap Green/Alizarin Crimson palette

A couple of things to write about today.

“Mercy” miniature painting, 4×4 inches, oil on Gessobord

First, I’ve been toying with the thought of using a limited palette of White, Sap Green, and Alizarin Crimson (Permanent). One of my favorite artists, John Larriva, has been playing with variations of this palette for a while, and that inspired me!

Mercy converted to B&W. Interesting! Click on image to see larger version.

Just because I felt like it, I also converted this image to B&W to see how it would look. It’s said that you can tell if the values of your painting are correct if it still looks okay in B&W. I think my painting passed the test (I hope?).

Anyway, about the limited palette: I used Liquitex Everwhite, Dick Blick’s Alizarin Crimson Permanent, and Williamsburg Sap Green. (More about the Everwhite later in this post! 🙂 )

I found the whole experience of limiting myself to just these colors, Sap Green, Alizarin Crimson Perm., and White, to be really challenging! I wasn’t sure I could do it at first. I desperately yearned for a yellow. But after a while, I got used to it and realized that it was starting to come together. It’s a bit like the Zorn Palette (see an example of that here) in that you have to think of warm and cool tones, and not so much about getting the right blue, yellow, or red. Mixing the green and the crimson together will make a pretty good dark (almost black) and it’s amazing how the flesh tones finally start to “click” after a while when you’re mixing. I’ll have to try this again sometime soon.

Okay, the other thing: Liquitex Everwhite! It’s no longer being made! An artist friend was showing me his collection of yard sale oil paints and it was the mother lode for a paint geek like me! Brand new, still in box, never used, Liquitex oil paint! I asked him if I could buy the large 150 mL tube of white, and he was willing. The tube was untouched, unused, and with a copyright date of 1980. And it was still as fresh and as buttery as it was all those decades ago! So I used it for today’s painting.

Squee! Over 34 years old! And still fresh and buttery!

This is a testimony to anyone who wonders—will my paint last? Yes, oil paint lasts for a long, long time. Occasionally you’ll have a paint mishap, where the tube gets a little hole in it  or something, but assuming that the tube is sealed and undamaged, there’s no reason to worry about your paint drying out before its time. So stock up now if you can, and scour those garage sales!


After a long absence . . .

There’s really no excuse for such a long absence from this blog. Other than I’ve been busy and that a lot of positive changes have happened!

I’ve been studying more, and was able to attend a workshop taught by a wonderful young artist, Adam Clague. I’ve also taken some private lessons with him. His instruction has helped me immeasurably and I’m so grateful to him!

And, I’ve been able to paint a lot more, and work from life a lot more. These are vitally important to an artist’s development.

And lastly, I got myself a new studio! It’s a mess, but was very much needed. One of my friends said that renting this studio has given me more confidence and “seriousness” about my art. I think she’s right.

Well, that’s enough of the updates. Here are a few paintings that I’ve done in the last few months:

“Green Ribbon in Her Hair” oil on panel, 8×8″.

I whine about this painting, but I’m glad it’s done. I was trying to apply many of the things I’ve learned under Adam Clague’s tutelage. I realize that there’s much more to learn. I had fun with this painting, using some Charvin brand paint (with a limited palette). I love all the variety of colors available from Charvin.


“Zorn Palette, Jason Aaron Baca” 5×7″ oil on gessobord.

Thank you to Jason Aaron Baca on DeviantArt for the use of the stock photo as reference. Photographer Portia Shao: Model: Jason Aaron Baca

I really enjoyed painting this little study. It was painted entirely with the “Zorn Palette,” a limited palette consisting of only: Vermillion Red (orange-red), Yellow Ochre, Black, and White.

The palette is inspired by Anders Zorn, who is getting a lot of attention from artists lately. (He recently had a big show in San Francisco.) In some of his paintings he focused so much on form and value, as well as temperature (“warm” vs. “cool” colors) that he could get by with just these four colors! The black paint is “cool” (almost blueish) and can substitute for a blue when needed.

You’ll see in the painting above the greenish tints in his 5-o’clock shadow, as well as the background color? All done with these four colors. I mixed the black and yellow together to get the green, and black and white gave me a “cool” grey (which can almost pass for a muted blue) which I used in the background.

The Zorn Palette is awesome. It helps the artist focus on values and shapes and brushwork, without agonizing too much over a myriad of color mixing choices. Sometimes, you don’t need any other colors other than the Zorn four (white, black, red, and yellow!).


paintings · portraits

Emo Boy – a limited palette study

Emo Boy, oil on 4×5 inch panel. Stock photo credit

Thank you to XXMAUROXX on DeviantArt for the use of his stock photo in making this painting. It’s not that good of a likeness; I was going more for an attitude or “feel” here.

I’m going to start doing some studies and exercises in the limited palette. This painting is loosely based on the Goya Palette (similar to the Zorn palette). I used Titanium/Zinc White, Mars Red, Yellow Ochre, and Lamp Black to make this painting. It was a good way to study color mixing! I had to try to create the illusion of greenish-grey (his 5-O’clock shadow) through mixing black, white, and a little yellow. (The black I used had a coolish tint.) The red of the lips and the nose weren’t true cherry red, but earthy red. When seen in contrast with the other more subdued colors, it looks far “redder” than it otherwise might be. That’s the exciting thing about painting with a limited palette.