More cup painting

I’ve decided to try hand painting ceramic cups with oil-based sharpie markers and baking them. The first two, I baked at 425 degrees for 45 minutes.  The second two, I baked at 350 degrees for the same time. Here’s the result:

I had seen recommendations for both temperatures online. At the higher temp, the colors bake out and turn grayer; I also lost my whites (they turned yellow on the jay). At the lower temperature, the colors retain their bright hues.

I then tested both batches in the dishwasher, and they all came through fine. Although if I give them as gifts, I will tell people “handwash only.” So, I learned some interesting things about painting cups.

I did have a friend commission four cups for her mother, after she saw the ones on the right. And the great part is that the cups are inexpensive; I bought them at thrift stores for 25 cents each; I got a set of 8 blue cups at this price, and 2 white mugs.



How to Paint an Old Barn: Steps 1 – 4

I decided to paint another old barn for my “Barns of Michigan” series of oil paintings. And also decided to photograph the process for readers, to show the steps in creating a realistic old barn in oils.

Step 1: Block in the sky and ground areas

blocking in sky and ground in an old barn painting lesson

Old Barn Painting Step 1

In any landscape painting, it is critical to decide how much sky you will have, and also determine the main colors. I usually block in the sky first, using a mix of cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, and titanium white, with a hint of burnt umber for cloud shadows, and also do a warm underpainting (yellow ochre, burnt sienna, cad. yellow light) for my ground.

Step 2: Sketch in the barn

Old Barn oil painting lesson: step 2 sketching in the barn

Old Barn Painting: Step 2

This next step is critical: getting the perspective and shape right. I try to do the best possible sketch at this point, using perspective. I will rework some areas later, but I am sitting the barn where I want it in the picture at this point, using ultramarine blue to sketch it in.

Step 3: Blocking in the Barn Main Shapes

blocking in the barn areas and colors in this free oil painting lesson

Old Barn Oil Painting Step 3

Now, I start painting in the barn and roof, blocking in the initial colors, and getting some of the darks in for old boards and missing board areas. It’s starting to look like a barn now. I use burnt sienna, burnt umber, and ultramarine blue, for the barn boards; and use these same colors mixed with titanium white and a bit of cerulean blue on the roof. Right now, I’m just “roughing in ” the shape of the barn; detail will come later with other layers. This will sit overnight to dry.

Step 4: adding more detail to side wall

Old Barn oil painting lesson: adding detail to the barn walls

Old Barn Painting: Step 4

Now for the fun part: adding more detail to the roof and side of the barn. I do this by adding darks (burnt umber, ultramarine blue) and lights (burnt sienna, yellow ochre, burnt umber and a hint of white) to detail the boards more. This is when the sketch done earlier shows: the perspective “makes’ the picture in a sense.

In the next steps, I will be adding the foreground and more details.

Back to the Basics: Still Life

I am spending some time going back to the basics (still life), working on technique more, with still life paintings. Don’t worry, I’ll still be painting birds and landscapes, too, but want to work on my overall mixing, brush strokes, etc. Below, I’ll share how I did it for those who would like to know:

An oil painting study of oranges and grapes on a green cloth

“Oranges and Grapes” study, oil, 16 X 20

1. First,  I set up the still life the way I wanted, using a green fuzzy towel for contrast with the orange colors.

2. I then sketched in the objects and light shadows with ultramarine blue and olive green mixed.

3.   I then painted in the background with a mix of yellow ochre, cad. yellow med., burnt sienna, olive green and black, in varying proportions.

4. I then painted the towel, first the underpainting in ultramarine blue and olive green. I also did the main shadows for the oranges in the same colors.

5. I then painted the towel with a mix of sap green, cad.yellow light, and white in varying proportions (once the underpainting was dry).

6. I then blocked in the mass of grapes (alizarin, dioxide purple, ultramarine blue, and some black), and the oranges (cad. yellow med.,, cad. red med, and cad yellow light in varying mixes).

7. I created shadows with the above colors mixed with ultramarine blue (and black, for the deepest values), and highlights by adding white to the mixes.

8. I then ate the still life in a fruit salad when it was done! My favorite part!

How to Paint a Finch in Oils: Stages 4, 5 & 6

Today, I’ll share the next steps in creating a finch painting in oils.

adding lights and darks to the background

adding darks and lights to the background

I now start adding more darks and lights to the background, defining the branches and the snow behind the bird. This will get reworked. I mix the snow hues with ultramarine blue, cobalt blue and titanium white, with a hint of burnt sienna; in the sunny areas, I add a touch of cadmium yellow light and more white. The branches are getting thicker and more defined now. Now for the next step: working on the body of the bird more.

stage 5 adding detail to the bird

Stage 5: working on the body of the bird

In this stage, I add burnt sienna mixed with ultramarine blue to the body and head; and create cream colors with the above plus yellow ochre and white; I start at the front of the bird, and work my way down the body. At this point, the painting looks “gaudy” because I have yet to tone down the bright colors with shadows and highlights; these will come later. My main goal is to show the roundness of the body, and the feather patterns.

in stage 6, the body of the finch is defined more

Stage 6: underpainting the body of the finch

Okay, it’s starting to look like a bird amid snow-covered branches. At this point, it’s got lots of nice color; that’s part of the fine, trying out different colors and combinations. I could stop at this stage, but I like a lot of depth and realism and fine detail, so I’ll keep going. In a few days, I’ll share the finished painting.

Let me know how your painting progresses!

How to Paint a Finch with Oil Paints: Steps 1, 2 and 3

I decided to break down how I approach painting birds, to help others who enjoy painting wildlife.

Grays, blues and whites on the background of this bird oil painting

Stage 1: Creating the background canvas color

Above is my very favorite part of painting: taking a blank white canvas, and priming it with the background colors. For this painting, which is set in a snowy woods, I used mixes of ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, titanium white and a hint of burnt sienna to create the blues and grays. I added a tint in places of pthalo green as well, just for variety. Now, it looks like a soft abstract of blues and grays, just waiting for the painting. This is the exciting part – the possible painting.

Next, I lightly sketch in my main features – the bird and branches for the painting.

in stage 2, a light sketch of the main elements of the painting

Stage 2: sketching in elements

It doesn’t look like much yet, but this step is important. I tend to sketch in freehand; I do know some artists who create computer carbons for their birds or portraits, but I prefer sketching it myself; I often play with where things will sit until I am happy with the result. You can always “rub out” the sketch easily with a bit of turpentine and a rag at this stage.

Next, I start strengthening the background. I always work on my background first, for a reason: if I finish my bird first, I tend to “lose interest” or rush the background. If I work on my background first, then I will spend more time on it.

In stage 3 the background branches in the oil painting are defined better

Stage 3: defining the background & bird more

I also start blocking in some of the finch colors lightly: burnt sienna, ultramarine blue, titanium white, yellow ochre, cad. yellow light for this stage. This lets me know if my sketch is accurate; I constantly redefine as I work.

I’ll share more in my next post.

Canadian Geese: Lesson – How to Paint Reflections

Lesson in how to paint water reflections, using "Canadian Geese" from the Birds of Michigan series by YC Art Studio

Birds of Michigan: Canadian Geese, oil, 16 X 20 (c)2014 YeshuasChildArt

I finished the painting of the Canadian Geese, and decided to break this down into a lesson in how to paint reflections.

First the paints: I use Winsor and Newton artist grade oils. For this painting, the palette I used was: ultramarine blue (deep); burnt sienna, yellow ochre, alizarin crimson, cadmium red medium, cobalt blue, black, titanium white, cad. yellow light, and sap green.

How I created the water reflections:

1. First, I blocked in the main (medium value) water, using mixes of the blues. It looked like a big blue square of varying shades, with the geese lightly sketched in with burnt sienna.

2. Next, I blocked in the geese main colors.

3. I waited a day for the canvas to dry. This is important, for the glazes to not mix in too much.

4. I then mixed my blues back up, with varying amounts of titanium white; I also added just a hint of pthalo green to create a pretty cerulean. I then took a medium sized brush with a fine point, and “swiped” this glaze lightly over the deeper blues. I then took my deeper blue mix from the previous day, to reinforce the darker parts of the waves.

5. I let the water dry for another day; and worked on the geese. When dry, I then painted in the reflections, remembering that light colors reflect darker, and dark colors reflect lighter on water. I created a mix of burnt sienna, yellow ochre and cad. yellow light in varying mixes for the highlights; and burnt sienna and ultramarine blue for the darks. The final highlights had a hint of titanium white added to the light mix, and were added sparingly. This all took time, to glaze lightly over with a small brush.

6. Once the geese and water were done, I then finished the background. I added a few reeds for interest; with several falling over and pointing to my center of interest – the geese.

I hope this is helpful! I would love to see how others approach this as well.

How to Paint a Barn, Lesson 3

Okay, today I added more detail, highlights and color to the picture.

Lesson 3 in How to Paint a Barn with Oil Paints

How to Paint a Barn with Oils, part 3: adding definition and color

It’s starting to take shape now (the colors are richer in real life than in the photo of my painting, because of glare from the wet paint). I added highlights and color to the grass (naples yellow, yellow ochre, burnt sienna and titanium white mixed in varying degrees) and added more definition to the trees in the back (added oranges (cad.yellow med. with cad. red light), yellows, and greens. I fixed a few problems. I also added the tree to the right, to prevent the eye from “leaving” the painting; I like the starker look of the bare branches against the sky.

It’s almost done! I hope you enjoyed this lesson. My goal was to make the barn the center of interest, by using warm colors; and creating a path leading to the barn. I also used the lights on the grass to lead the eye in. I had a friend come over today, who wants to buy this, and it’s not even done!

Barns are really fun to paint; this is one in my new “Barns of Michigan” series of paintings.