Blue Hydrangeas Progression

Blue Hydrangea – 8×10 Oil on Canvas –  Preliminary Oil Painting Sketches

Hydrangeas – Preliminary – Progression

This is my first effort to develop a hydrangea painting. I explored a progression of considerations.  I could have painted clusters of perfect little petal flowers and a lovely blended background, or there are many other pretty styles. I know how to do that, but I would not find it interesting. In fact, I created many versions of this painting – more than you see here. They became less and less spontaneous. All paintings are not going to work, but if I am not pushing the creative envelop, experimenting with color and texture, detail or lack there of, I’m not moving forward. There are aspects of each image I like or don’t like.  I will leave it up to you to wonder through the images.  I will create a final painting  in the future starting with a blank canvas.  At that time, because of this efforts, I will better know how I want to develop it. Thank you and Bye for now. Winifred

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Diametrically Opposed

Oil Painting On Canvas 8×8

I set up these still lifes in my studio. Could any bouquets of flowers be  more different in painting style? I love loose painter strokes, but I also found it interesting to try my hand at some basic “one stroke” brush techniques in the image below.  Both were certainly very interesting to paint.


I found myself buried in details the painting below, but the results on this black canvas were vibrant and enjoyable to create.


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Lady in Crimson

“Lady in Crimson” 12×16 Oil Painting on Gessoed Board

Oil painting of lady in crimson.

The reference photo was  taken in New York years ago.  I find such interesting looking people there, and so willing to pose for me right on the street. I enjoyed flailing paint about on in this painting and enjoy the crimson  added as a last minute decision.  I don’t create detailed sketches before I paint.  With a large brush, I create placement for the figure, then loose placement for features before beginning refinements.

This is what the process looked like for this painting. Locating  shapes.

First 5 Minutes of Painting

Below, finding mid tone values in face.  Do you wonder what that thing is on her head? Initially I was adding a tam – which she did not have,  After a while, I decided it looked like a “cap and gown” image – which it does, so the tam had to go.

Below, starting to look like a person – in “cap and gown”!  I’m convinced that ultimately it would not have, but given the way I finished the portrait, it would not have worked anyhow – do you know what I mean?

Below: I always like my paintings before they are finished, but never stop there.  It’s a dare that a few more strokes will make it better. Sometimes that works and sometimes I’m filled with deep regret!!  

I will tell you at this point that this is a Transgender person.  She wore a two piece fitted outfit with her midriff showing and hand on her hip – there was plenty of attitude.   I  like the painting at this point but kept painting creating a very different image.  Eventually,  I changed the jawline, softened the expression and added the crimson. the final is added below to make comparison easier.

Oil painting of lady in crimson.

Painting Sunflowers

Sunflowers in Blue Room – 9×12 Oil Painting on Gessoed Board


I was in the mood to paint sunflowers this week. I do love them. I had something in mind and made a sketch on my board. Then I thought – now what. What colors will I use? It would be easier to figure this out digitally than in oil – then I would paint it.  I photographed my sketch with my phone and brought the sketch into painter to do a rough paint sketch. Below is the result. I like both of my drafts -great light!

Color Draft #1

I then printed it on a high gloss paper which gave me vibrant color contrast and detail. It would be my visual reference image for my painting – at least loosely so.

It was then late and I sat down to watch “So you think you can Dance”. One dancer wore coral red paints, a teal blue shirt and a blue violet hat. WOW! The colors popped and it was not a color combination I had been conscious of before. I spent some time thinking about the colors and what gave them the ability to compliment and harmonize. I thought – I can still do that. I finished watching the amazing dancers and went back to my computer.

Painter draft sketch 2 – “dancer” color added.

Above, I created a colorize layer and painted in my “dancer colors. It was an improvement – certainly for the subject matter and style in which I would paint. One just never knows where the next inspiration will be found. I didn’t really mean to go to the tip top if the board on my final oil painting at the top of the page. It didn’t start out that way. I still like it. After all, magazines cut of the top of all the models heads these days. It’s a thing! I did get every petal in the frame however!!


Sunflowers on Black Canvas – 6×8 Oil Painting

Prompted by a video, my first sunflowers were painted on black canvas. I’ve never done this before. It’s almost easier in a way,  because the darkest values are in place.

I like the painting and the idea. I will certainly do more paintings that way. Interesting I had already purchased Black Gesso and had covered several boards knowing this was something I wanted to do. So, I was ready.




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Classic Portrait Oil Painting

12×16 Oil Painting on Gessoed Board

Above – Final Painting

This is my largest painting to date. Sometimes I play. Playing has value. Sometimes I am very serious and want to get it right. What is right?  I wanted  to create a classic painting, with accurate skin tones for this person – I wanted to reflect accurate hues, tones and chroma appropriately sculpting the form of her face – within the lighting in which she was photographed.  “Accurate” is a tall order here – starting with the fact she was photographed in weird light, the photo was printed – meaning a different shift in colorspace. So many things,  have interfered with accurate. That being said, I was deliberate and wanted to do my best.

I took the reference photo while in New York at a gallery opening a few years ago. She was very willing to pose, as I find is usually the case in New York City.   Her dress was black dripping with multiple chains. She had one bare shoulder.  The bare shoulder was covered with huge tattoos likewise all down her arm. She had a long ponytail. Her eyes were rimmed in bright red make up.  I think she might have been disappointed had I not ask to photograph her.  I thought she might be enjoyable to paint.

 Initially, I spent an hour mixing paint. Based on colors and values in the photo, I created a  large variety of subtle shades and hues for her face. That become an enjoyable part of painting – believe it or not – it’s own meditation.

Below is mid stage of the painting. It was a modern, rather vixen look  – but that’s not what I had in mind.

Above – Portrait Stage One

I wanted a more classic look.  I thought a vintage hairdo might be interesting and added a bun to the back side of her head and a long curl.

 After looking at the painting for a while – nearly an hour later I decided  to remove the back bun and curl I added – to wipe off the paint from that vintage variation. The  hair paint was still soft/wet.  I then only slightly modified her original “do”, softened and blended  the edges of the hair where it met the face and its exterior edges. In the final image above, I also subdued the red rimmed eyes, subdued the eyelashes, and softened the lip lines. Some of the boldness of the image was lost, but I was after softer and more subdued  look – shocking!! Perhaps, I should have and could have been more careful in painting her neck and upper chest.  I did not do so intentionally – not sure it was the right decision.

Hint:  We all need time away from out art periodically, to bring fresh eyes to our work. There are many ways painters do this.  Viewing your artwork in the mirror can help as well. What I do most often is to photograph my painting with my phone periodically –  a series stages of the painting along with the latest stage.  I can view these images anytime – and I do so frequently. Viewing these images small  on my phone gives me distance and a different way of looking at the painting.  I find this process very helpful and I do this with every painting. It shows me things I might never have seen when looking at the larger painting.


I  also wasn’t sure what I would do for attire. I could leave her shoulders bare – or dress her in some way. Again, I photographed the painting with my iPhone and opened it in Painter to explore some alternatives. Thats how I tested a few strokes of “fabric on her shoulder”.  (Bye the way, I also used Painter to test adding the bun which I removed.) I decided that whatever I creates as attire would be loose and easy, hence, I returned to my paints.  In the end, I used the palette knife to create her “stunning” dress top. That was fun!!

Over all I learned a lot in the painting process – always the case.    Once again I learned to try to get color, values, and brushstrokes right the FIRST TIME.  “FIXING”, especially skin, doesn’t usually lead to good results.

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Portraits of Three Girls


Oil Painting 9×12 Oil on Gessoed Board -“Girl with Big Eyes”

I  created three paintings this week. They are all very different.

 I keep wanting to make this girls eyes exactly the same – but the fact is, I don’t think anyones eyes are the same. – so I resisted. I do enjoy the emotional content of this painting – the near sadness of he large eyes.

Oil Painting on 8×10 Canvas Board – “Girl Sitting on Steps”

Photo Reference by Winifred

You may or may not know that when we paint children often make them look older than they are.  We narrow their chins, gives lips too much color and make eyes too dark.  I found myself doing all of these things. I did attempt to correct for this – somewhat.  See below – dark eyes, red lips. I didn’t try hard enough.

The photo reference for painting above – Daphne and Art Carlyle. 


Below – Oil Painting on Canvas – 6×8 – “Girl with Subtle Face”

 Photo Reference for Painting –  by Winifred

Finally I’ve given myself permission to create a painting with only a hint of a face. This was not a large painting – 6×8 canvas. trying to create feature detail was challenging.  I did so but didn’t care so much for the expression. Finally, I painted it out.  I like the painting so much better with no appreciable face.



Portrait Painting of Girl

Portrait of a Girl – 9×12 Oil on Gessoed Board 

I think portraits are the most challenging images to paint – even using a reference photo.  As you can see below, I create a very loose sketch initially and then work into the detail. I also always want to bring some level of artistic expression and creativity to the painting rather that to just to paint what I see. This can be challenging to envision, and a bit frightening to execute. I have to let go and take chances.  I consider it better to try and screw up than to play it safe.

Below – Loose Tonal Value Portrait Sketch

Below – Starting to Add Color

I  always like this stage of a painting.

“Oh Give Me A Home”

“Oh Give Me A Home” 9×12 Oil on Gessoed Board

For years there was a herd of Buffalo on Beaver Valley Road in Chimacum WA, a town not far from me. What a sight it was. It was the only herd of Buffalo I’ve ever seen. 

During a drive by one spring day, years ago, there were quite a few calves. I’ve always loved the photos I captured, one of which inspired this painting. I don’t think the buffalo are there anymore – not sure.

Below is my initial sketch on a gessoed board I toned.


Vessel Loading – Bainbridge Island to Seattle

I spent the day with a young friend from Seattle on her13th birthday more than a year ago. Now it was time for her to return home.  I took her to the ferry – her mom would meet her on the other side. Amongst others, I took this photo as she prepared to board the Bainbridge Island Ferry.

A few days ago,as I perused my photos searching for any interesting reference photo to paint – I came upon that image and was inspired to paint it. Getting the perspective right was challenging  for sure and the was a dominant consideration for this painting. 

Initial Sketch and Design 

Developing Values and Perspective

Values and perspective  and image content are increasingly developed. 


I’ve  been reminded of a digital painting I created a few years ago. I was in New York and walked down the stairs into Penn Station. Immediately, I saw this little girl playing the trombone and her brother holding the music.  I love the story and the memory. I added a few dollars to the trombone case.

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Suspending Judgement

Suspending Judgement –  8×10 Oil on Canvas

We’re so hard on ourselves, always wanting to get it right, the design, the color, the brushstroke, the values. perhaps you’ll wonder if others will like it.  What if we suspend  this brainwork and jump into bonafide play – just throw some paint around. No one else needs to see it. Tell the brain to take a rest – you won’t be listening – and you’re doing it just for your self!!  Digital or traditional painter – it won’t matter. That’s what I did to create this painting.

It was fun. There was no thinking – no right or wrong.  I wanted “to do” and not “to think” about it. Lets face it, some of what’s been learned always shows up a bit anyway. You cannot teach yourself “not to walk”  – you just do it. Your painting should take not more than 5 to ten minutes. Try to paint quickly so you don’t have time to think.

For this painting, I only used the left over, already mixed oils on my palette, limiting my  color choices and I started “plopping” on paint with a palette knife. Who knew where it would go – there was no plan. Remember, NO THINKING – just play! We all need to play. It’s amazing the part of yourself you might discover. I had no idea there would be polkadots all over. Never did I DECIDE, “I will put dots all over”. I put a few on the upper part of the painting with the end of a brush, then a few more and a few more. I did think it was pretty cute however.

Funny, I usually do my wildest painting  experiments using a pear as subject.  I don’t have to think about creating a pear shape.  You might want to create something different.  I had a student say she didn’t want to paint a pear but she would paint and apple. Okay, apples are cool and anything else!!

Since you’re here and we’re looking at pears. I’m going to show you another painting. Below is the second oil painting I ever did.  I thought it was ok – for learning to use oils. 

Now, 6 weeks later, I decided to paint from the  same reference photo again – it’s simple, fast and just practice. This time I did a value sketch – I don’t think I did that for the first painting and it’s vitally important. Then, I added paint to it. There’s a big change from my initial painting.  I thought you would enjoy seeing the change.

Orange and Pear Simple Still Life

I’m sure I will paint the reference photo again in a few weeks ti see if I can’t take it in yet another direction. Thank you for taking a look. Winifred








I’m painting far more than I anticipated and hence posting more blogs. If there are too many – do let me know.  You  can also unsubscribe but I would hate to loose you. Winifred

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