Skin tones in oil

IMG_0256 (2)

9 x 12 ins, canvas

In November I enlisted the help of this very gracious family member to help me follow the instructions of Brian Neher on the Craftsy video course ‘Painting Realistic Skin Tones in oil’.

We set her up near a North facing window, with a suitable background, and I took about 60 photos of her. Together we chose a few that we both liked and I settled on this pose.

The photo shows the colors a little incorrectly-the shadows are not quite that brown. However, I’m not satisfied with the shadow colors. I mixed cadmium red medium, yellow ochre, titanium white and a touch of viridian, aiming for grey, but the mix went more easily to a brown hue than a grey one. I need more practice and experimentation with this-does anyone have any tips?

I’m looking forward to trying the next one!






Christmas Card


I used my daughter, Elizabeth as a model for this picture, taking about 30 pictures in various poses and lightings. When I decided which pose I liked I drew several on 6 x 8 inch pieces of 300 lb Arches paper and tried out a few different paint triads. It was fun! They all behaved differently, and there were quite a few surprise features. This image was my favorite, especially the blends and ‘holes’ in the background. The hair was added with burnt umber.

I printed the words on my computer, cut out the strips and attached them to the edge of the painting. I had copies made at Staples, where I always enjoy attentive and caring service. The staff there always seem willing to try several iterations until I’m satisfied with the product.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Second Place!


Acrylic, 9 x 12

This week I found out that this painting won second place in a local juried show! The entries for this show had to be on a ‘serene, inspirational or uplifting theme’. I was away in England for the whole show and so did not find out the result until my husband went to collect the paintings. What a lovely surprise!

A write -up on the whole show can be seen at

Open Studios Visits

Saturday 21 Oct was Bloomington Open Studios Tour and I spent an invigorating couple of hours visiting three local artists (painters). I was especially impressed by Dawn Adams and Meg Lagodzki

It was inspiring to see their working spaces, to talk to them about their history, processes and results.

Dawn Adams uses multiple thin layers of oil paint to acheive marvelously luminous landscapes and seascapes. That was very interesting to me, as I’m currently reading Glazing by Michael Wilcox

which I have on interlibrary loan. This method takes a long time and a lot of patience. I wonder what effects I could obtain with transparent acrylics?

Meg Lagodzki also paints in oils and had a very interesting series on local quarries, which seemed to me an unlikely subject, but she had created many beautiful paintings with fascinating shapes and colors, reinforcing the idea to me that beauty can be found in unlikely areas if you know how to look at it and interpret it.




Lois by the river


Acrylic on hardboard, 6 x 8 in

This was from a photo that my daughter-in-law posted online. I loved everything about it, so asked permission (granted) to paint it. I love the light on Lois and on the river, giving her such beautiful golden hair and the river such wonderful green hues. I love her pose and the shadow it forms. What did she stop to look at and what is she thinking?

Really Plein Air


Acrylic on hardboard, 6x 6 ins

This time I really sat outside–on my deck, looking out at my backyard, early on Saturday morning. I really wanted to paint the sunlight coming through the trees and tried to make this a ‘response painting’ rather than an accurate representation. It became more accurate than I intended, but I like the effect. At least I put something down on the board before the sun moved above the trees!