Friday, November 09, 2007

November Colors

The colors outside are finally showing in some spots around my neighborhood and I'm anxious to get out and paint but don't think thats going to happen anytime soon. I'm making good progress with my knee and all the other stuff going on.

Test results for anemia are encouraging as this new med pack is doing it's job and I finished up yesterday with a very painful physical therapy session for my knee that has bursitis. Once this bursitis goes away, I hope I NEVER have another attack. It's the same knee that had the broken patella a couple of years ago. I'm going to do everything possible to keep my knee healthy for sure. At least now I can walk a bit, sit a bit and get some things done like the ton of clothes piled up in my laundry room. Today I'm going to walk to the mailbox and see how that goes. If that works, I'm going to get myself out to the studio tomorrow. I also hope that I'll be able to sit at the computer and share some art things I've been reading.

I miss keeping the girls more than I thought I would. Strange how life makes it's twists and turns and all the things you though you knew about yourself change. Some pleasent and some not so.

Hope you all are going well.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Jack the Koi

The end of August and the sky is overcast with the promise of rain. The goldfish in the pond pretend they are koi as they splash their fins in and out of the cool morning waters. When we are children it’s fun to play dress up and prance around like the princesses that our mother’s tell us we are. It’s good to watch the fish playing and remember the play times when we were transported from everyday life into a fantasy world. What is it they say? All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Jack the Koi
En plein air 08-31-07
8x10 framed without mat
Soft Pastel on Canson
Framed & ready to hang

Contact phyllisfranklin@hotmail for availability

Click any image to see an enlarged view.

Colored Pastel Paper

This morning I woke up early, before dawn, and got myself together for the day. As soon as it was light enough I went out in the yard to the goldfish pond and sat with my pastel pencils and some dusty red canson paper taped to a slick masonite board. I watched for a bit as the fish played around catching the early morning bugs. I guess everyone was waking up and wanting breakfast. The birds were singing and the frogs had gone silent I suppose in fear I would see them.

The fish in the pond are just ordinary goldfish, but one has a fancy tail and I guess that makes him special. I call him Jack. As I sat thinking and drawing I thought about the paintings I had looked at the night before of wonderful koi swimming in a pool. Jack had all the moves of a koi, but just wasn't a big and he was just orange all over, not spotted like some koi are, but like I said he had the spirit of koi. So, I pretended he was a koi just like pretend when I was a little girl and wanted to be a princess. Before my hour was up I had finished my work and felt really good about the painting, so I hurred to get it under glass and framed.

The Canson paper I used was a dusty red color so I just blocked in Jack letting the paper show thru. Working on a red background and letting the background pop thru everyonce in a while is a good thing to bring harmony to a painting. Keeping your colors limited is another way to bring harmony. I put down a dark blue layer around Jack and then proceeded to layer in yellows and some greens over the dark blue which produced different shades of green all the way across. To finish the painting up, I used a cerulean blue pastel which worked well with the red paper.

Normally you frame pastels using a mat and spacers to keep the paper from touching the glass, but you can frame pastels next to the glass if you are sure you have the paper secure so it will not rub or shuffle at any time. I took care to tape the Canson paper with archival tape to an archival backing board and then framed next to the glass. Yes, you lose some of the sparkle, but in this case, framing next to the glass actually helped the illusion of Jack in the water.

Jack the Koi
En plein air 08-31-07
8x10 framed without mat
Soft Pastel on Canson
Framed & ready to hang
Contact phyllisfranklin@hotmail for availability

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Painting with Pastels

Click any image to see an enlarged view.

Yesterday I painted with pastels and took some progress images along the way. Here they are:

First I sketched in the ducks using Derwent pastel pencils and started placing in the negavtive shapes around the ducks trying to leave the white of the paper as much as I thought would be good to have in the water and leaving the ducks completely white. I did get some blue into the ducks, but at this point it was like a very light wash, so it didn't matter much. For this painting I was glad that I had white Wallis sanded paper because I think it helped the water sparkle and also helped speed the painting of the ducks. I haven't painted with my pastels in quite some time and was surprised when I found white paper because most of the time I use the Belgian Mist, professional sheets. Sheet size for this one is 18" × 24" and I've taped the paper to a full sheet of foam core with blue painters tape. For the first few swipes of pastel and water as I wanted to be able to take it off the foam core if I needed to. I wasn't sure how wet I would get the paper and wanted to be able to dry the back with a hair dryer if I did get it too wet. Fortunately, working quickly worked for me and the paper did not get too wet or buckle a bit. I did not pad the paper with newspaper like I do sometime. Padding with newspaper helps me not get so heavy with my strokes for some reason. I tend to fill up the tooth really quickly because I do have a heavy hand. Wallis paper is touted to be able to take 25 layers, but they didn't use my hands to do the test. :)

Then I used some water and a sponge brush to make the blue pastel liquid and sink into the paper. I did this quickly and with as few brush strokes as I could manage and still get the flow of the water like I wanted it to be. I confess, some of the water helped create a water effect without my help. :)

Note: You can use water, denatured alcohol, Gamsol which is 100% pure odorless mineral spirits or Turpenoid as a wetting agent to turn the pastel into a kind of liquid. I've tried all of the above and have found that using Gamsol as the wetting agent seems to hold the colors better.

Adding in the shadows for the duck feathers was lots of fun, along with adding in the oranges for feet, beak, and a little on the feathers just to keep them from being too clean. :) Pastels, as any other media reflect color from the first colors put on the support as well as the support color itself. The colors you first put down might not be visiable in the end result, but are very important because of their reflective nature and color mixing effects.

More refining and headed for the last touches of sunshine. I've used a very limited palette of ultramarine blue, cad orange, burnt sienna, and a few greys. This makes it easier for me not to make muddy areas and certainly sets this painting up as a very effective complementary color study.


I used Rembrant soft pastels and Derwent pastel pencils with a final touch of a white pastel from my own collection of handmade pastels I made several years ago. I did not put this painting on my easel but rather propped it up on the counter and used some newspaper to catch the dust. I did this on purpose so I could lay the painting down on the counter or prop against the table or hold in my hand to sketch and work with the strokes for the ducks. While I layed in the water, I did move the painting around to let the pastel move with the water I applied to liquify the pastel and set it into the paper much like you would a watercolor wash.

Final image is 23x17 unless I crop a bit, and I don't think I will.

Critique from Elin Pendleton

Nice, Phyllis! You've handled the reflections well. The critique for improvement would be to get the water beyond the duck heads to "lay down" more by the addition of some burnt umber to the blues, and perhaps lighten them a bit (lighter, bluer, grayer with distance).

Your whites on the ducks seem very cold to me, so perhaps an addition of a whisper of either cad orange or cad yellow medium to the lightest parts would warm up the sunlit sides.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Painting Children - More tips

I recieved another set of tips for painting children so I thought I'd share them here:

1. Don't paint babies if what you want is THEIR portrait. They don't have their personality yet so wait until they develop one. Babies almost always look like any other baby.

2. If you shoot photos outside in the sunshine, don't shoot them at midday because it will give you dark shadows under their noses and rings under their eyes.

3. If you are shooting photos for reference have them dressed in clothes they normally wear. You don't want an uncomfortable child. Let them pose for you if they are posers but try to use the photos you take that are natural poses. Give them their favorite toy, pet or let them play with something new you've brought along.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

What to do with an ugly painting

I’m sure that most of us have paintings that fall into the categories of good, bad and ugly. I’m finding that to have a painting that I really think is better than good tends to run the course of about one out of three. So that leaves me with at least one painting in the bad or ugly category and I have to decide what to do with it.

The first thing I remind myself is that all art is a great experiment. I don’t care how long you have been painting or how accomplished you are, each time you create a work of art, you are experimenting and each experiment will turn out differently. Have you ever tried to paint the same painting? Did it turn out the same? Some of us have track records that turn out successful paintings all the time, but even if you are this kind of artist, you are still a student for we all learn every day from each painting we do.

The second thing I remind myself of is that an old ugly painting doesn’t have to go to the landfill gallery unless I just give up and I shouldn’t give up without trying to save it at least one time. There are some things that can help me make a clean start or work-over my painting that I’ve used successfully before so I run down my list and see if I can salvage my painting by using one of these (choose the one that fit your medium).

· Spray it with oven cleaner and take off all the old oil paint
· Sand the oil or acrylic paint off and reapply gesso
· Cut it up and use it in a collage
· Soak the paper in a tub of water and rub pigment off gently with hands
· Cut the canvas or paper into strips to be used as bookmarks
· Use a product called sansodor which is a W&N solvent for oils
· Try reapplying a sanded surface when working with pastel papers
· Crop the ugly parts and reframe

. Take the canvas off and save the stretcher bars for new canvas
· Turn it into an abstract
· Flip it and paint a different painting with the old painting as a ground
· Try glazing
· Turn it into a mixed medium painting using inks, casein, egg tempera or gouache

I’m sure that you could add more ways. Make your own list and the next time to are ready to make a donation to the landfill, remember you can try one of the things on your list to save that painting. If all else fails and you don’t want to try anything new, you can go ahead and make that trash donation and still call yourself successful because you have just cleaned and organized your studio.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Carly Ann's portrait is finished

Click any image to see an enlarged view.

I'm finished!

I can't say I am totally happy, but I think I should leave this as it is and move on to the next challenge. I feel good about everything I've learned and I thank everyone for help and support.

These images are taken from my old camera which only is only 1.3 mega pixcels. I can't believe how much technology has improved since I bought this camera in 2000. The camera I use today takes images at 8.0! I wonder what we will be doing five years from now.

I'll take better pictures tomorrow when I can take them outside and use my newer camera which is on batter charge at the moment. I did take a B&W just to see my values.

I'm ready for my critique. Please do not hold anything back. I need and want to learn as much as I can from this piece and trust that all of you will be honest with me. If you want to wait until tomorrow for better pictures, I'll understand. Most things did not change from last image, but I did finish up the shoes and of course, you'll notice I made the bush big again. (sigh)

Thanks again for all the emails with advice and support.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Hanging paintings

I didn't paint today but instead brought the painting of Carley Ann into the house so I can see how it will look hanging. I can't decide where I want it to be but I'm glad I brought it in. Paintings look so different when you hang them on the wall and lighting is so important. I think I'm going to hang it in the blue room which is actually a sitting room right across from the dinning room. When it's done and has found it's place on my walls, I'll take a picture and post the image here. Here's saving a spot for it.

Click any image to see an enlarged view.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Next project - Inventory Storage

Click any image to see an enlarged view.

I'm working on getting my studio cleaned up and organized. I know this sounds like a broken record, but get the studio organized is taking me more thought than I anticipated.

The first problem I have is finding space to store the finished paintings that are not hanging in the gallery. Then there is the problem with storing paintings that I want to revisit and maybe finish up. Most of these are plein air studies. I want a quick way to identify them without having to pull them all out to find the one painting I want to work on that I've identified by looking thru my inventory book.

My inventory book is of the loose leaf variety. The pages have all the necessary information on them along with a photograph of the painting. I have my paintings tagged with the inventory tag number and try to store the paintings with the tag visible. My inventory tag system is based on the date I finish the painting or stop working on the painting and photograph it for the first time. I name my image file the same as the inventory tag which looks like this example using todays date: 070407 and if I have more than one painting, the tag would look like 070407a etc.

Sometimes the tag is just written on the side of the canvas, other times it's on the clear bag cover of panels. This works pretty good but I'm always on the look out for an easier way to sort and store the paintings for easy access.

I'll keep you posted if I find any interesting ways beyond the usual. When I get mine done, I'll photograph it and let you see my progress with that too.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Check lists

Click any image to see an enlarged view.

Funny how the list that I keep on my easel to reimind me what I need to be reminded of keeps growing.

Complementary colors
enhanced colors
texuture (physical and visual)
Compostion focus
interesting crops
Paint with your eyes
Think what things might become
Let the brush talk
Be in love with change
Find the elegance
See the big picture
Make it a pattern
Identify the extraordinary
Don't get gauche
Keep it fresh at all costs
Take your time

Compositional integrity. A composition that knows its edges, balances internally and "works" in the "big picture." The superior creative eye often simplifies and is not distracted by minor elements or extraneous detail.

Sound craftsmanship. No sloppy craftsmanship detected. Artist appears to be grounded in accepted means of application, order, and seems to have knowledge of media chemistry. Work looks like it is not liable to fall apart shortly.

Colour sensitivity. Appears to have understanding of colour choices—complementary, analogous, etc. Often shows colour paucity and attention to sophisticated grays. I hate to use the word "taste," but I will.

Creative interest. Subject is creatively different so that it attracts, leads and holds my attention to the artistic and creative elements within the work. I often become aware of a greater creative mind at work.

Design control. Artist appears to have an understanding of how the eye is managed and led by the design, flow and activation of a work—effectively 'seducing' me. I often have the feeling of a masterful eye managing mine.

Gestural momentum. Brushwork or line-work is often expressive and has bravura, bravado, courage and élan. It often shows variety of stroke and is generous in the "hand made" conveyance of visual energy.

Artistic flair. Artist does something beyond blind representation and/or just moving the materials around in some form of lazy play. Work has style and panache and captivates in its artistry. "Wow, that's artistic!"

Expressive intensity. All stops are pulled to enhance the central idea or general motif. It can be a "look," a mannerism or an illusion, but the intensity convinces me of the presence of a non-jaded, passionate, particular author.

Professional touch. Artist avoids amateur methodology and gives a direct, confident, seasoned look to the work. Some people seem to know what they're doing, others do not. Professionals often, but not always, tend to leave their strokes alone.

Surface quality. Up close and personal the surface is intriguing and a joy to cruise. This may be because of the texture, handling of pigment, or the complexity of surface abstraction, gradation, or other quality—anything that makes the surface fascinating.

Intellectual depth. Artist gives me something to think about. There is an enduring resource here—not just a pretty picture but a thoughtful metaphor or other device that has staying power without retreating to sentiment or kitsch.

Visual distinction. The art has a look of uniqueness, either with style, subject matter or handling. It looks different from what I've seen before, or if similar, arrests the eye with a unique feeling or look that denotes "character."

Technical challenge. Artist has chosen something that requires above average skills or technical ability. Not just something that anybody could do. I love to see artists challenge themselves, take the technical risk, and win.

Artistic audacity. Artist is "in your face" with some element that dazzles—skill, idea, technique, or some other in spades of the above mentioned points that makes me sit up and take notice.

Some of these were given to me by artist friends, others are just things from workshops, workbooks or personal observation.

Bottom line, I know my list will keep growing because I'll keep learning and that's exactly what painting is all about.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Working Small

Click any image to see an enlarged version

Lesson Plan to try

Working small

Take a 6x8 panel or paper and divide it up into four rectangles. Create four thumbnail sketches to use as reference for your small works painting.

Limit your palette. Premix colors for each major color/value in the painting (no more than around 8 colors or so or if you want to limit further, try just three plus black and white. Using a mountain landscape as an example, you would need to premix the sky color, the light and shadow for the upright trees, the light and shadow for the ground plane, and the light and shadow for the slanting plane (mountains).

Limit your time spent on each painting to no longer than 20 or 30 minutes. Don’t keep working on a painting that is not working… just move on to the next one or try the same painting with a fresh panel, different light, different angle, perspective, etc.

Working small has great benefits with economy of time, material, and learning. Once you have a successful small painting, you can expand the ideas to a larger works with ease since you’ve already worked out the majority of the problems and tried the same set up in different lights, etc. Use every painting you do as an opportunity to design and problem solve. Work from nature or life as often as you can. Work to capture the essential information. Practice objectivity to critique your own work and make your own check- list of things that you want to pay special attention to.

There are so many things to paint and so little time to get them all done.

Hands, shoes, hair adjustments

Click any image to see an enlarged view.


Click any image to see an enlarged view.

Today I've been working on trying to get the hands in position, resolving some issues with her hair, and getting the shoes in ready for shadows. Small changes in some places and big changes in others. I still can't quite get the color of her skin right. Looking at the image I see I will need to go back and adjust the shape of her chin where I cut in taking the hair off her shoulder and putting it to the back. It's still fun. :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Background and foreground adjustments

Click any image to see an enlarged view.

I'm fiddling and that's my usual routine when I'm just not happy with something. I worked on the background and adjusted the size of the bush in the front. I'm happy with the background and think everything will come together when I lay some of Carley Anns hair back in at the top of her head. If it still doesn't look right, I can lower the yellow grass line.

I'm also fiddling with her hair on the left side of the painting.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hair Sample

Click any image to see an enlarged view.

Just for reference, here is a sample of her hair. In the photograph her hair is wet.

Bear and Hair

Click any image to see an enlarged view.
Still trying to find the right blonde for her hair.

Painting advice from my friend Booker Thomas Poole:

Phyllis....try using a combination of burnt and raw sienna, yellow ochre, and mars black on Carley's hair....hold on the hands until you've finished Carley's hair and you are satisfied with her face...believe it or not, you have painted a very challenging portrait in record time! Paint on Phyllis!!

Mars black was only to be used to "darken" the burn't and raw sienna....I see no problem using black as much as I see using white as potentially problematic...white used with certain colors can "bleach" that color out---too much white can make a painting look "washed out"---the colors are not as brilliant, or lively as they could be.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hair and Hands

Click any image to see an enlarged view.

Still trying to find the right formula to paint her hair. I see I need to study a bit more. :)


More adjustments... and I'm happy with the background and the size of the boxwood.


Back trying to resolve the problem about the brick perspective and finally deciding that what I need to do is downplay the bricks so as to keep the focus on Carley Ann. I darkened the bricks somewhat and will probably do back over them again with another layer of dark glaze to further push them out of focus. I also keep tinkering with the background around her head as I'm not happy with what I keep doing. Again... working these problems out by doing a thumnail sketch and sticking to it would have solved this problem right off.

Click the image to see a larger photo.

Friday, June 15, 2007


I also worked a bit more on her teeth hoping I could get them to look better.

Background, Ribbon, Bricks

Just making adjustments and refining... actually changing my mind and trying out new things which I know I shouldn't do, but can't seem to help myself. :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Background adjustment

Background and mouth

Two things I haven't been happy with and am still not quite happy is with the background and Carley Ann's mouth/teeth. Here are the latest changes. I'll probably work a bit on the mouth area tomorrow with rested eyes and then move on to hands, legs, feet and shoes. Oh yes... and hair. :) When Carley Ann's mother and daddy saw the portrait last week they wanted her to have teeth, so I made an attempt to put them in, but now that I look at it, she looks better with just a hint of teeth showing.

Painting tip from my friend Booker Thomas Poole:

Very nice Phyllis!! The way that you introduced the plants is well done--nice, but not an "attention eater". Now Phyllis, here's your next challenge...take a good look at Carly's mouth--notice in the photo that her teeth are barely "de-emphasize" her teeth, take some burnt sienna and a touch of red and go inside her mouth lessening the visability of her teeth--darken her top lip and keep her bottom lip highlighted....her teeth are "aging her" just a tad---so work on her mouth area...Phyllis, you are just about at the finish line with this one...WELLLLL DONE!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Adding pink flowers

Click on any image to enlarge.

Adding green plants

Click on any image to see a larger view.

Painting Advice from my friend Booker Thomas Poole:

Phyllis, the flowers behind Carly is not a concern for can add a bit of detail, and that's all that they will need. I'd be careful about the flowers that you've put up front...that will mean more detail....the focus is on've painted her well enough where she can "stand on her own".....adding flowers is a nice touch, but be sure that you keep Carly as the star of your portrait!

Today's updates

We had a storm last night and the lawn service is doing some clean up. My trip away for a few days will need to take a back seat while I attend to some storm damage around the house. This will give me some time to work on Carley Ann's portrait in between directing the lawn service people. So, I'm painting today. :)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Busy week ahead

For the next two weeks I'll be busy with all kinds of projects so I'll have plenty of time to think about what I need to do next. Hope I get to paint a little on this one and keep the momentum going. Tomorrow and Tuesday I have a high school student coming to help me clean my garage out and some other projects that have been needing attention. Weather permitting, I hope to be able to get outside and paint in the early morning or late afternoon on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and visit some artist friends including Maureen in Americus and Shirley in Smithville! Saturday I have a meeting with the gallery folks and that's a full week of stuff.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


I painted a bit early this morning and posted where I'm at now, but then Anna Claire came to stay with me while Brent, Terri and Carley Ann went to the Atlanta Aquarium for the day. I brought Carley Ann's painting into the house so that I could just look at it and decide what to do. Funny thing is that I can see the errors so much clearer just looking at the photo thumbnails. I wonder why that is. Anyway, I see that my bricks are not all going in the same direction SW to NE correcting that will help too I hope.

If I get to paint tomorrow I might lay in some of the flowers in the pot. I don't want them to have a lot of detail ... I don't think.... I need advice on this. The flowers are in the focal area, and would add to catching the eye of the viewer... but don't know how detail I can really get with painting them since I'm not really a detail painter. What would you do? Dawn Whitelaw gave me some good advice in the beginning, so I'll refer back to that, but if you have suggestions, please let me hear from you.

Covering up bricks and making adjustments


Working on brick perspective

I know I have something wrong, but just can't seem to get it right, so I'll keep working.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Anybody have any tips for painting hair?

Painting today

I don't have an image to show you of what I painted today because it is so very little. One thing I wanted to tell you though is how much I am enjoying my new studio space. The north light is great because it is constant and I can open up all three sets of french doors and get all the fresh air I want plus let the light flood in. One set of door is on the east side, another on the north side and the last on the west side. This makes for great air circulation without the air conditioning. When it gets hot, I can turn on the air, but I'd rather just open the doors. :)

This all confirms my gut feeling that the garden house should be used for a studio rather than just a place to sit and enjoy the garden... and store a few gardening tools. :) This way I get to combine two of my passions... painting and gardening. :) I'm finding I'm enjoying both of them more and more each day.

What's so great about having a studio you might say, I thought you said you were a plein air painter. Well, yes, I love plein air, but having a studio to go to and keep all your supplies handy, keep you painting going for days on end and being able to clean up right on the spot, leaving your brushes laying on the table ready for the next session really appeals to me. I'm finding that I may become more and more attached to working in the studio and just keeping a small set for jumping in the car and heading off for a plein air adventure. :)

Tomorrow looks like it's going to be another great studio day!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Carley Ann, minus the other girls

Well, I think I got a little too carried away with trying to put Anna Claire and Cocoa-puff in the painting, so I took them out and now Carley has her very own painting. I'll have to do one for Anna Claire when she gets around 2 1/2 like Carleys.

I feel better about this painting as it looks tonight. It's cleaner and has focus. :) I know the bricks are not placed right and I'll be working on that.

My three girls

I worked on the teeth some more. I still think they look a bit bright. Maybe a glaze would knock them down a bit, but I'll try that later. After looking at her face in the light of the day, I'm really unhappy with that yellow around her eye socket... I'm afraid to go back in, but think I need too. I can tell I'm really going to have to study to do flesh tones. And... that first mistake of using that pastel pencil to sketch in my drawing was a horror to tame as much as I have. I've also added in the way I want the background to be. I don't want much back there and the colors might be too strong, but I'll wait and see as it progresses. I can always go lighter and less intense to make it go back.I have the composition as I want it now. Anna Clair's mom came to look at the painting progress after VBS today and we talked about scale deciding that Anna Claire looked too big for the size I had Carley Ann so I've made her smaller. I hope this will work, but if it doesn't I will have learned another big lesson. I added Cocoa-puff in to complete my three girls and took out the Ivy leaves so there would be a easy way into the painting and keep if from being too busy. Hopefully the bricks will have enough texture, color and structure that nothing else will be needed. I don't know yet if I will try to paint them as realistically as possible or if I'll do them more painterly.... probably more painterly as I really don't want folks to linger on the bricks. That's about all I've done for today. I'm tired and ready to rest for the evening. So much fun... so little time.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Adding Anna Claire

I've got the block in done for Anna Claire. Here's the problem I think I'm going to run into... porportion... how much smaller is Anna Claire than her sister. I'm going for it anyway.I took away one column and will fuzz out the background when I figure out what to do. I also added some ivy on the bricks and the corner of a bush. I may put Cocoa-puff in too... just because they love her so and she's another one of my girls.

Paintin advice from my friend Booker Thomas Poole:

Phyllis, you can work it out on paper....the size of the paper doesn't matter, but getting the scale right does. Try working it out on an 18 x 24 sheet of drawing paper....get the scale of Carly on the paper as close to the scale of Carly on your canvas....this will make it easier to "transfer" the correct scale to your canvas. One other thing I should mention to you Phyllis, and this is an old trick to mine....after you've gotten your drawing the way that you like on your paper...turn it over, and take soft graphite or pastel and cover the back of your paper...making sure that the covering completely covers the drawing on the other side. Once that is done, you can turn the drawing back over...being careful, and making sure that the surface that you're going to lay it on is NOTtoo wet---if it is, wipe away any excess paint, making sure that the surface is as dry as possible. Next, you "re-draw" your image--pressing against the canvas, and when you've finished, the image should be "transferred" to your canvas---it might be light---in that case, you can draw a bit harder to make sure that it did transferred. It's a little work, but it can truly help you with your scale. For future paintings....your decisions should be definitive...honestly, I would not add any other images in the process, once I've begun to paint--my concern would be that your concern with getting the scale right on another image would frustrate you enough to take away from the original commitment to paint only Carly....I love your "boldness", but I must say that you might focus only on going through with the process of painting Carly, and once you've successfuly done that, (and I'm sure that you'll be successful), then you can take on the "fresh" process of painting them both in a brand new painting!

Final Face for Carley Ann

I decided that I would add Anna Claire into the painting. I don't know if I can get the scale right or not, but I'm going to try.

Here's Carley Ann's final face. I'm not finished with hair, but that can wait. I want to get Anna Claire's face perfect now. Her mother and dad came to look at it and they wanted her teeth, so I dropped a few in. I would have liked to have left them out, but in real life the painting of them looks like real teeth, so I'm okay with them.Edit.. again the image looks grainey with lines across it. It's probably because I'm shooting inside with lights instead of natural light from the sun. The painting looks so much better than this photograph.

Sunday, June 03, 2007


I took the day off to consider what to do next. :)

I think I'll be working on the hair getting it to be blonde like her real hair is and checking to see if the hair line is correct. Also, I'll be adjusting the eyes around the fold line and the under lid of the eye socket.

This next week I'll be busy with VBS so I don't know how much time I'll have to devote to this painting. I do want to think about adding Anna Claire to this painting since I'm happy with it so far and my children seem to be too.

If you have any suggestions, please post them. I would be so grateful.

Painting tip from my friend Booker Thomas Poole:

Phyllis, I use these colors, titanium white, cad red, yellow ochre, and lemon yellow. The titanium white and the cad red are your base colors, with yellow ochre and lemon yellow for making the flesh cooler or warmer. You can mix green on for darker tones and shadows--(true green). You can acually purchase "flesh" color at most arts and crafts stores--but you still will have to navigate through your tones. (ligts and darks).

Friday, June 01, 2007

Canvas Covered with Paint

Today I've been working on getting paint all over the canvas and making some adjustments just to keep my head straight. I think I've figured out what to do with all that blank space to the right of Carley Ann... if she turns out to my satisfaction, I'll see if I can slide Anna Claire in beside her. :) For now I'll just leave it blank.

Painting advice from my friend Booker Thomas Poole:

Nice Phyllis! Very good start! Here's my suggestion: (this is how I paint my portraits--you don't have to do this, but from what I can see, you are painting your portrait like I paint mine.) When painting portraits, I try to consider the entire composition, and I try to avoid focusing too much on one area--this allows me to build up my entire composition all at once--it also allows me to make decisions on what background colors will work best with my subject-(there are times when the background in the photo may not necessarily compliment my portrait subject)--I make sure that my portrait subject is the main focal point--if the background is too intense or the colors don't compliment the colors on my subject---it would be difficult for the viewer to focus on the subject itself. As for using charcoal and worrying about the strong lines--try to tone down by erasing as much as you can, but in the future, you can spray drawing with fixative spray. You are doing great Phyllis!!! I'm actually painting Carly as well, and I will post the steps I took soon...coooool Phyllis!

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Getting paint on the canvas

Well, I decided I'd go ahead and make some decisons and get some paint on the canvas to get me going.

Yesterday I attended an on line live chat with artist Dawn Whitelaw sponsored by The American Artist Magazine that was very helpful to get me going with this portrait. During the chat she answered a couple of general questions and then sent me a nice follow up email.

Advice from the chat: Dawn Whitelaw
Phyllis, if you know the sitter it always brings something else to the ptg. If you don't know the person,
you have to make an assessment about them in a short time. With children you have to imagine who they will be in the
future. There will be characteristics that are inherent, you get a sense of what they are going to look like when they are
older. Look at the parents or the siblings. you want to get the characterstics of them that will stay as they age.

Advice from email: Dawn Whitelaw

Here are my suggestions for the portrait of your grand daughter. Remember that they are suggestions. All I can tell you is what I would do. The ultimate decision is yours. I would keep the background very simple.I am attaching two roughly done ideas. Because the light on the subject and the background is different, you run the risk of having the figure looking "cut out." To help prevent this, some light needs to travel into the background. I lightened the sides of the columns and enlarged them a little bit. I would eliminate the fence, and buildings in the background. . I brought some more white flowers in to the big pot. The flowers in the background could be left in to echo the flowers in the front. I would not add more pots of flowers in the front. On her face, keep the creases under her cheeks warm and lighter than the photo reference. I also lightened some of the foliage in the pot behind her hair. I would love to see your results. Good Luck

Thought process: Make the background fuzzy, only have one plant, increase the size of the columns. Find a way to fill the right side of the canvas without taking the focus off Carley Ann,

Mistakes: I think Carley Ann should have been closer to the center of the canvas. I also think I should not have used that black pastel to block in my drawing. I'm going to use some sealer to help get rid of the pastel dust, but I don't think it will help that much. I may have to put several layers of paint on the canvas to get rid of all that black and get her skin color right.

Friday, May 25, 2007



Advice from Thomas Booker Poole:

Nice Phyllis! Now remember, "less is more", and stay away from too much defintion in Carly's've done a very good job with her eyes....soften her cheeks...try to avoid the temptation to draw strong lines...soften her mouth area.....the purpose of doing all of this is to "transition" this thought process into your painting. 85-90% of a person's likeness is "in the eyes"....and you are more than almost there.

face close up

Beginning a Portrait

First time trying to do a portrait. Hopefully this will look like Carley Ann Franklin Angel.
30x40 canvas

Painting tip from my friend Booker Thomas Poole.

Phyllis, here's some things to keep in mind when doing children's portraits. First and foremost, be mindful of what kind of canvas that you use when painting portraits-especially children. I use Fredrix Style 589 Portrait Canvas for all of my portraits---it's a smoother canvas--excellent for the softness of a child's face. Keep in mind the softness of Carly's face-(what a wonderful face! )--Keep in mind the expressiveness of her eyes--the "softness" of her facial features. When you finally start to paint her--remember "less is more"---use color and highlights to emphasize features on her face. (will illustrate this evening) Today, once you are comfortable with drawing her-transfer her to the canvas using the grid--NO PAINTING YET...only concern yourself with making sure that she is "rendered well"---drawn well on the canvas--that the composition is what you desire---study the her tones--lights and darks---study the relationship of her AND the background...become very familiar with the overall composition---make sure that it's placed where you want it on the thought is that you'll spend the day making sure that she is drawn as best that you can---if she is a well-rendered drawing, then she shall be a well-rendered painting!!!! Looking forward to this evening, and I'll check in at some point today!!!! By the way, I like your first sketch....remember that her eyes are her best feature---keep them soft...keep the propotioned in relation to her face...not too large.....

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Monday, April 23, 2007

Callaway Azaleas

Spring Dance I'm calling this one. Working en plein air this Spring at Callaway Gardens.

Center Composition


Sometimes the focal point is just smack dab in the middle, but having interesting colors and textures that surround the main focal point create supporting focal areas that can move the eye around making the compostion work. Quoting from Edgar Payne, "the placement of the main point of attraction in composition is important. Regardless of its location on the canvas or whether it is large or small, it needs balance by it surrounding parts. If the main attraction area is small the rest of the picture should not over come it by presenting similar or equal interest. The principal attraction should not be placed too near the edge of the canvas."