Clay Vase

Clay Vase – 5×7 Oil on Gessoed Board

Clay Vase Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

 I want only to paint something simple. I decided I would paint a simple vase.  I put a little backdrop cloth in my shadow box near my easel, I placed the vase and put a spot light on it for drama!

At this point it was no longer simple!! Every shadow and highlight, every curve, ever fold of the fabric, the background – becomes a separate element which must be painted.  I really like the early version. It only has transparent paint on it and It well expresses  the texture for the vase simply because you can see the hard board texture through it.  I like the final version as well. Image wise, I am not sure which I prefer – though there is only one physical painting and one digital file.  

Overall, I enjoy the colors, the shapes, and the lights and darks of both.   Hope you enjoy. W

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My Mother’s Store

My Mother’s Store – 12×16 Oil on Gessoed Board

Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

On this particular day, I took a ferry to Seattle and climbed the hill to 1st Avenue.  As I started walking North, I spotted a little store with some great looking boots in the window. I went in.seated with her mother, I immediately saw this adorable little girl in her very pretty attire holding her teddy.  I ask her mother if I could take a couple of photos and I did.  I love the way little children pose. They just stand there – no posing in fact, no pretense – just “here I am”. 

This is the first time I have attempted a full environmental portrait. I love the idea of it but  and wanted to tell the story in a rather realistic figurative manner, but what work!!   The size of this canvas is  12×16, not really small, but still the face is only about 1 inch wide. It’s very challenging to paint facial likeness at that scale but I did it – but I hope never again.  I will  simply paint on a much larger canvas if I want to paint a room interior.

I did purchase a great pair of leather boots – my absolute favorites.  The store was going to of business – there was a big sale.

This is not a finished finished portrait.  I will make more refinements  as I continue to look at it, but the elements and concept is pretty clear.  Hope you enjoy

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Portrait Oil Painting – Ena

Ena – Oil Portrait Painting – 9×12 Gessoed Board

Oil Painting Portrait by Winifred

This is Ena and she loves her portrait.  

 A week ago, I purchased a portrait critique from Portrait Society of America – where I am a member.  I was able to submit 5 paintings online to be reviewed.  It was contacted by one of the Society’s established and highly awarded members who contact me by phone.  Our meeting went very well.  It was both helpful in terms of suggestions and rewarding in terms of very positive feedback.  She particularly liked my color sense and the painterliness of my brush strokes, It was interesting that she ask me if I was very nervous to be critiqued. I found it a surprising question and told her,” being nervous had never occurred to me”.  She found my response surprising and told me I was fearless.  She said she was always very nervous to receive critiques.  I told her I only assumed she would attempt to give feedback which would make me a better painter.  I found this prospect very exciting.

 It’s always interesting how different people are.   She is a very “realistic painter” – highly skilled in that regard. Most of the artist in the Society are realistic painters.  Their paintings very often look like photographs in levels of detail.  I have to take this into consideration when talking to/ or being critiques by a  Society members. I included one painting I did inspired by Cezanne. It was a painting which did not conform to normal body proportions.  She didn’t know how to respond and unfortunately, thought it reflected my drawing skills – or lack their of since I had created  some very strange proportions.  Later I sent her my inspiration image to legitimize my approach to a specific painting she viewed.  I am sure she didn’t care for his painting either. I think most society members want to see, normal, precise and accurate – not particularly fore most in my aspiration.  Still she was helpful.

I will do this again  with another society member next time.  She suggest it is always best to get different artist perspectives. Members provide this kind of feedback to each other, particularly when preparing for competition.  It won’t be long before I will be competing with some of the best oil painters in America, 



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Yellow Flowers

Yellow Flowers – 9×12 Oil on Gessoed Board

Yellow Flowers with Vine Oil Painting by Winifred

I had a different painting in mind when I started – the sketch below makes that pretty clear.  The change was even more radical than is apparent.  I set up a vase of flowers which had two yellow, three red and three deep purple flowers in it! 

After I completed my sketch, I ruffed in the shadows, and  began extending the energetic brushstrokes to the edges.  I decided it looked like foliage and kept it.

I added highlights and shadows using dancing brushstrokes to the lower background and foreground.  It started to come together. Some how, I didn’t want all the colors in the vase.  I decided on yellow flowers only.  I added my yellow flower  along with a bit of hue changes in the same  brushstroke style I’d been using throughout.  I then began to focus these strokes to giving abstract definition of flower structure.

I liked the painting at this point and could have left it but I wanted a greater sense of dimension which I would only get by affecting the hues and tones of shadows and highlights.  Below, I have added purple, and muted dark blue glazes to various areas along with impasto to pop the highlights and a twining vine. With that, I could call it good.  I will know after I look at it over time.  I can always make some changes if necessary. Hope you enjoy! Winifred



Yellow Flowers Oil Painting by Winifred

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Portrait of Girl in Sweater

9×12 Oil Painting “Portrait of Girl in Sweater”

Initial sketch and blocking in values.

Selecting colors and developing background.

Adding detains to – hair, background and hands


For your convenience, below is final image, with final adjustments to facial features and other details /aspects of the painting –  the hardest part – even altering  the angle of the  back of the chair.  I’ve made an attempt to paint this person before but did not find it satisfactory.  It was too small to manage facial features properly. Hope you enjoy. W

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Sunflower Bouquet

Sunflowers in Bouquet – 9×12 Oil on Gessoed Board

Sunflowers in Bouquet – Oil Painting by Winifred

You can see the beginning of this process  below – the still life set up next to my easel. The painting developed and ultimately I had it trimmed with a saw, narrower than the nearly square beginning.

The Beginning – still life set up in shadow box.

Loose first transparent layer.

Deepening shadows and color.

Almost final.

Bunch of Grapes

Bunch of Grapes – 8×6 Oil Painting on Canvas Panel 

I can almost taste them.  One bunch was not enough – referring to last weeks post of “grapes in a silver gravy bowl”.  I had this vision and it turned out pretty much accordingly.  Love it when that happens. There is no painting sequence for this painting – I just did it. In the next post there will be a long sequence for the painting’s development.  I hope you like this one.

Oil Painting – Bunch of Grapes – 8×6 Canvas Board – by Winifred


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Grapes in Gravy Bowl

Grapes in Gravy Bowl  – 8×8 Oil Painting on Gessoed Panel

Oil painting – grapes in silver gravy bowl by Winifred

Below is the initial sketch and transparent color layer. It is so loose, luminous and rich in color.

Grapes Tonal Sketch


Substantial development of forms and detail have occurred below prior to adding highlights and other touches of color.

Grapes form development






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Jeweled Tone Bouquet – 8×8 Oil Painting on Gessoed Board

Jeweled Tone Bouquet – Oil Painting by Winifred

I’m enjoying kicking up the color and texture. 8×10 Oil on Canvas Board

The Hydrangea flower head below is one of my best hydrangea flower heads.  I find abstracting the flower petals challenging.  I wiped my board clean of oil on this one – once again.  In the end, I felt it had too many “tree” looking characteristics – the shape of my vase.  I could have repainted the vase, but I’ll just paint it again!

Blue Hydrangea Oil Painting by Winifred Whitfield

Ménage à Trois – YAMS!


10×8 Oil Painting on Canvas Board

Ménage à Trois – YAMS! Oil Painting by Winifred

Early in June, I set up and photographed many still lifes,  I would later reference to paint.  I even photographed three large yams on a rich velvet background. Since that time, whenever I’ve scrolled through that collection of images, I would stop at the yams thinking “they looked so very weird”!  I thought I would never paint “that one”.  Wrong again.  I came to like the fact that the photo was  so unusual, so organic with the rich complementary colors and interesting shapes. It brings a smile. So, here it is!!

Below,  I  initially created an oil sketch and a light grid to be sure to get accurate placement, referencing the photo. I then chose my background color and painted loosely around the yam sketch.

Oil sketch with grid visible.

Below, I create my mid-tones, highlights and shadows.

Blocking in values as underpainting.

As usual, I like the  brushstroke looseness  of the stage above.

By the way, I wiped down and cleaned off my Hydrangea oil sketches from last week.  I will paint it  pretty soon and of course show it to you when I do. Til then, Winifred Whitfield


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