Koi Painting work in progress painting…

Trying to pull together several painting so they can be finished, one for a customer, one for a show and one just for me.

Below you can see several paintings I have sitting about my studio space… I am working on all of them at once…. trying to get them either finished or started.   I work this way sometimes because its best to let some paintings sit rather then work on them too long.  They become over worked and stagnant if painted for hours and hours.   One is an oil painting which I just need a few adjustments and it will be complete…  its the water painting with the yellow trees.  The next looks like a light blue and purple combination, its also a water painting and we do not know where its going but I have a pastel kinda monet feeling for it so it will start in that direction.

The one on the floor is the one I started yesterday and I  will work on it today.  Its the only watercolor in the bunch so I’ll have to clean my pallet before I start painting it again.

This painting is sitting on my back porch to dry Its a combination of Gesso and watercolor painted on canvas.


WIP # 10 Geisha in Oil work in progress.

I’m trying to decide if I should put the flowers on the right side of the geisha or take them out… also  I’m trying to decide if the kimono color is right.  should I use analogous colors or should I keep it warm.

wip young boy’s portrait

As you can see from the update, I definitely went with the blue for the shirt.  So far everything in this painting is warm and I thought it needed a little cooling down.  Now I have a different problem to solve and that is what color to put in the mid ground… it has to be a dark.  You may be wondering why.  Well with watercolor everything that is in the focal point (  in this case, the face) needs to be surrounded with its opposite value.  The face is light and in front of the mid ground so I have to plan to paint that area a dark value.  The hair on the other hand is dark, it will be in front of the background and that will have to be light.  This will make both of those very important areas stand  out and actually strengthen the illusion that he is in front of those areas.   The Background must be cooler in color temperature as you go back or I might have used golds…  But…Golds can be used in the mid ground as long as the background is either greyed down or cooled.  This can easily be accomplished by painting a blue sky or a grey sky. 

  I don’t usually paint the background as is, usually a photo’s background doesn’t meet the minimum requirements for a good composition for a  portrait.  In fact most Portrait artists eliminated the background and just use color and value so that the subject is really emphasized.  These portraits can be very dramatic!

I started putting in the stand of trees on the right and I’m using cool greys mixed with some reds and browns for the trunks.  I started these in a wet in wet manner and will end them with a dry brush technique.   I thought I might put in leaves but now I’m having second thoughts.  There is a lot going on in this already and I hate to have too many shapes cluttering it up.   Perhaps if I only put in big patches of leaves… it might work.   I don’t want anything to compete with the subject. 

This is why it can take a long time to finish a painting like this because of all the decision making it’s really done as you go along.   You can try to have all the things decided  before hand…but as you see how things look you should always reevaluate the piece and determine if your initial thoughts for the painting will make it a strong piece or is there something better you can do.   Since your the Artist, you have to rely on your knowledge and your intuition.  Both of them are important and neither can be discounted.  Trust yourself and you’ll come out with something that works and that your proud of. 


The cushion under his arm isn’t really showing up the way it really looks because I’m indoors and at night but its actually a bright green ( sap green)  I did have to tone it somewhat under his arm so it looked as if it’s in shadow but I incorporated this color to help in the African theme.

I think I’ll finish tomorrow as the background usually goes rather fast.  I’m a direct painter when I paint landscapes and this method does not use the tedious layering process that is used in the face.

I will of course  I’ll always be reevaluating things and making adjustments.  I’ll save the little twinkle in his eye for last.   Check back with me for the final installment and if you have any questions, I will be glad to answer them for you.

work in progress … Child’s Portrait

I’m back with a  few more changes.  I put in the cushions on the chair, I made them a bit larger than in the photo because I need this bright color to give it the feel it needs.  I have left out the last cushion on the left because I’m still debating on what color it should be.  That’s because I haven’t decided if the shirt will be light blue or dark green … I painted it light blue to see how the contrast of warm and cool color looks side by side and also because I know I can always change it.  Light blue is a color you can change because most colors will cover this light color.  Right now, its Manganese blue and I don’t think I had that on the  original list of colors.   You might want to take note of it.

  Just to give you a little background on what s been going on in my studio.  I have this portrait on an easel and of course everyone who visits makes their comments.

 Remember I have a number of friends who are also professional artists or photographers.  I find it amusing what they think is good or what I should change.   The first thing is… None of them seem to agree on anything, one will tell me to widen his chin, the next one will say… no leave it as it is because it will make him look too old.

Then there are  the non artists who say things like… where’s his other arm?  They can’t see the process as well.  I did put his other Arm today.  It only has the initial first glazes and I’ll bring it up to the correct value later.  This arm being behind the other arm will have to be a bit cooler and not as warm so it stays behind the binoculars.   I’ve decided not to make the background too busy because this will take away from he young boy’s face.   I will put in the stand of trees and I’ll have to pay attention to the push pull of the lights and darks.   Where the background meets the light part of the face I will want the background to be darker and visa versa.  This will give the painting movement and also help to create the illusion of space and depth.  

To answer your questions…

When softening use a bristle brush because it does not hold as much water as a sable and will soften without creating a back run.  Only run the damp brush along the edge you want to soften. if you want a graduated wash, its best to wet the surface of the paper where you want the gradation.  This will give you more time to work and as long as your paper stays damp, you should be able to paint an area without hard lines.   Start at the darkest corner, drop the color in by taping the point of the brush into the paint then onto the paper where you want the darkest area and continue across the wet area until you want it to start lightening, add a little bit of water to this fist puddle of paint then pick some up with the tip or edge of your brush and  ( first touch the brush to a sponge or a set of towels to take out any drips or excess water) then apply this lighter color to the area  where you just left off… continue doing this until your color is at least 1/2 as light as the darkest area.  This will create a subtle change ( because the paper was wet) and not allow lines to form between the changes.   Anytime I tell you to wet the paper first …you should paint on clean clear water and not have any puddles and also do not paint hard, use a light touch because you do not want to remove all the sizing from the paper.

If your unsure if water is covering the entire section tilt the paper to the side and look for the sheen on the surface of the paper, this will tell you how much water you have and if you’ve missed any spots.  The water should not be runny or drippy this would be too wet.  The surface of the paper should have equal amounts of water so it will not dry unevenly , it should have a sheen but no puddles.  This one variable is the one thing that makes most folks not want to paint in watercolor or  if they do paint in Watercolor, they will not use much water. So…  If you can learn this, you will be able to  paint almost anything.  If you have any other questions or comments chime in I

I’ll write you back and answer all your questions.  This is almost finished and my plan is to have it finished by Friday.   So speak up now cause we are moving to a totally different type of painting next.


Its one am and I’m seeing spots in front of my eyes.  Good night all.