Sleepless Surrender

Sleepless Surrender is the second in my Motherhood series. I fell in love with this photo used by permission of Photographer and Author Naomi Lynn

This Mother and Child Figurative painting is the second in my Motherhood series. This painting reflex the sleepless nights and the selfless sacrifice of a mother to do what is needed for the the child to have peace and be able to sleep, even if that means she stay awake. I was drawn to the beauty in the the exhausted eyes depicting not only her tiredness but also a relaxed peace that at least finally her child has found rest.

As always I start by drawing the image out onto my canvas. With this series I have pre-toned the canvas with a thin coat of transparent Iron oxide. This is such a vibrant color and adds such a glow to the background and even shines thought the layers of paint that go over it, giving the painting a warmth that expresses motherhood perfectly.

I then block in the basic values, tones, highlights and dark shadows, paying attention to shape and form.

Once I have all the basics in place and I am happy with the composition and colors I have chosen I will start to add in detail and add layers of glazing to push and pull the values darker or lighter where needed and to add a look of reflected light.

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Sleepless Surrender

While I usually push my paintings into a realism with fine blending and detail, I wanted to leave this series blocky and un edited you might say. Raw, Real, yet Unfinished. These are the feelings I’m trying to portray. My use of bold color and contrast of cool and warm tones is to show the contrast in emotions that so comfortably sit side by side in a mothers struggle to care properly for her children. A sacrifice that is not always appreciated by the baby, toddler youth or teen. But she continues on doing her best anyway. No Matter What, because she loves her children more than life itself!

A Time to be Born

 

This piece is #3 in my Ecclesiastes 3 series wrapping up a very emotional year.

Titled “A Time to be Born”

This year has been a roller coaster of emotions for me. If you are a regular reader you know that I lost my big sister on Christmas day last year. So, even though I had planned to paint more paintings this year then ever before, turns out I have painted three. This season of painting has been filled with passion and raw emotion as I worked out the avalanche of emotions that were, and still are, churning around in my very soul as I allowed them to flow through me onto the canvas.

The first two paintings I have done in this series were working out my grief.Remembering tender moments and reliving old regrets. But #3 was going to be different.

In February, We found out that our son and his wife were expecting another baby. Our home was filled with joy again. This would be our 4th grandchild. Soon, though, that joy turned to worry as we got the news that the baby would have a 25% possibility of having Cystic Fibrosis. Months went by, waiting for news as Dr. visits  and check ups were scheduled, We found out the baby was a boy! Helping pick out names, counseling love and hope to our son and his wife as they worried, trying to be strong for them, feeling like a rag that had been rung out once to many times myself. Praise the Lord, the birth went amazingly well, and spirits and hopes were high, but after a few days it was evident that little man Kai was indeed sick with the dreaded disease. The roller coaster ride goes on still.

I decided to go on with my painting series. After all “to everything there is a season”, right? I decided to use my emotions artistically and focus on the positive. So about a month before Kai was born I started this painting. Using a reference photo of his older brother Grey taken by their aunt Naomi, I picked one that had the main focus on the connection of the hands and heart. It would be the companion piece to “The Last Goodbye.” and I wanted the emotional connection of the hands as well as a connection between the two pieces of art.

I started with a sketch up on canvas as I usually do, then quickly blocked in all the elements. In my typical way I adjusted the back ground several times and worked to keep the main focus on the hands not the baby’s face.

 

 

 

 

As I progressed, I felt something was wrong with the composition but couldn’t put my finger on it. So I walked away from it over night and when I had looked at it with fresh eyes I quickly realized that the mother’s thumb on the head was serving as a stop sign. So, It had to go. I fiddled with that hand and moved it several time before getting the thumb where I wanted it being the support for the head. fbsheet

Also around this point in the painting I switched from Acrylics to oils like I did with “The Last Goodbye” painting to get better blend ability.

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The idea in my head was to make the background for the baby the sheets, like in the companion piece. I was also planning on adding just a touch of the green, like in the hospital gown, for the babies diaper cover. But once it was painted in, I felt it was too cold and void of emotion and warmth. So to fix this problem I decided to switch the green to the background and the white sheet to cover the diaper and lower left hand corner of painting. Once this was done I was so pleased. The painting was now warm and full of life.

To me the green represents the LIFE in these two paintings. I “A Time to be Born” there is so much life to look forward to, and in “Last Goodbye” there is just a remnant of life left. I had accomplished telling the story.

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Part of my creative process is watching what happens as I paint and deciding where to go from there. As I progressed through this painting I was having difficulty with the hand that supports the baby’s head. Things that work ok in photographs do not always translate well into a painting. you see the ye is naturally drawn to the point in the painting with the greatest contrast. The mother’s pale hand against the dark hair and strong shadows of the baby’s head was creating it’s own focal point. This created a problem for me as the story I wanted to tell was to be told through the emotional connection of the hands. So I had to do a delicate dance of lowering the values of the hand and even graying it out some so that it would feel more like a background element, even though in reality it was the thing in the far most foreground. I needed to be there as part of the story, but I didn’t really need it as a main character.

At the same time I was dulling out the left hand, I was increasing the contrast and intensifying the color of the baby’s hand. I did this by adding glazes of a warm shadow color and adding more warm reds to the tips of the fingers, with reflected red light bouncing off of the mother’s fingers. I also added those same reds to the ear to give baby a nice health glow.47391629_218022855766036_7897445495763632128_n

A Time to be Born

11″x 14″ Oil on canvas

#3 of the Ecclesiastes 3 series By Jackie Little Miller

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I wonder what painting the Lord will have me work and FEEL my way though next. It has been therapeutic yet, painful. I love that it is taking my art up a level, but a little apprehensive of what might be next. I’m hoping for some laughter and dancing soon. LOL! But I know my God is faithful. I know that His plans for me are for good, His thoughts are of peace for me and not evil, to give me a future and a hope. And I will keep painting though what ever He brings my way next.

 

Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out my art process! To see more of my paintings check out jackielittlemiller.com

 

 

Last Goodbye

This is my second painting in the Ecclesiastes 3 series, to everything there is a season. I have been a portrait artist for years and love the human expression. Driven by a desire to push myself past faces, I started thinking about doing a series of paintings on hands. Then I thought maybe hands and feet, and I came to the conclusion that I just wanted to be able to paint expressive emotion without the aid of facial expression. So I had all these possible ides running around in my head, day and night. especially at night. I tend to do all my best thinking just before I go off to sleep. After the process of painting “A Time to Mourn” the series was set in my mind. But this painting was of the full body and was a dancer. So then I’m asking myself questions like, if this one is of a dance, does the whole series need to be represented in dance? Do I use the whole body in all the paintings: Or can I still go with just hands, or hands and feet? So many conflicting ideas overwhelmed my thoughts. Then the answer came to me.

In December of last year when my sister was passing away,  I sat in the room with her holding her hand, as she was taking, what I knew were some of, her last breaths, I looked down at my hands holding and caressing hers. The artist in me wanted to capture this moment forever with a photo of our hands touching for the last time this side of heaven.The rational side of me, how ever, talked me out of it saying that it would be crass and insensitive of me. For several months afterword I mourned that decision, as my sister and I were so very close and her hands and my hands worked along side each other so many times. She was like an extension of me and I of her.

One day as I sat visiting a friend who had just recently lost a dear life long friend, she was expressing her feelings as she and another friend sat saying their last goodbyes to their failing friend. She looked at me and said, I have something I want you to see. She then opened photos on her phone and showed me this beautiful photo of the three friends holding hands. She expressed to me how she had apprehensions about taking the photo, and had almost talked herself out of it, but her other friend encouraged her to go ahead and take it. As I looked down on this photo, I was taken back to that precious unforgettable moment with my beloved sister. I instantly asked permission to paint this photo, and was graciously granted permission, with my friend saying, “Maybe it was meant to be shown to you!” And I think she was right.43672923_560139704412003_7099662553256558592_n

So I started with a sketch up. I changed the angle of the hand on the left as I felt it was leading the eye off the page coming in directly from the left. instead I angled it from the bottom left corner to lead the eye in to exactly where I wanted it to land. I also enlarged the drawing to fit the size of canvas I wanted to use. I did a little shading with my pencil to give myself indications of shape and values needed. I then started by blocking in the sheets and hand furthest underneath it all, working myself to the top hand.

working in acrylics has always given me a challenge full of frustration. It dries so quickly and just doesn’t give me the time I need the for subtle blending needed to paint skin the way I would like. I admit I am a blend-o-maniac! There I said it! Another frustration that was getting the better of me was that acrylics tend to dry darker then the wet paint. sometimes 2 or 3 shades darker. Usually I would be able to press on through and get it done anyway, but this year has been rough when it comes to how much patience and to be honest how much energy and even desire to paint. So any frustration at all will shut me down in minutes. So again progress on this painting stopped for about a month.

 

I know it’s normal, as I am grieving, to be frustrated and lose focus easily, but it is also very stressful. I have the creative ideas constantly flooding my mind and I need to be able to express them or I kinds get a little crazy. It’s like therapy to me to paint through my pain and emotions. Anyway, I started entertaining the thought of trying to paint with oils again. I had stopped because the fumes would trigger my migraines, and nobody can be creative with a migraine, right? So i did a bunch of research and purchased oil paints with just pigment and oil, and got an odorless solvent which I use very sparingly. I was so blessed to find that they did not trigger migraines and the blend like butter. I am In love!

Once I started painting with the oils I felt like a bird set free from her cage. These paints are wonderful. I am in blend heaven. And I can paint for days with the same pile of paints before they dry up on me. This is going to take me a while to get used to as the canvas stays wet for days too. But this is both good and bad. Good because I can continue to blend and get those subtle blends I want, but bad because I can still blend and get those blends I don’t want! LOL!

Back to the painting itself. In the photo my friend is wearing a silver bracelet that she wears all the time as it is very special to her. I really wanted to get that bracelet into the painting. But as I started blocking it in I realized that my eye was being constantly drawn to the bracelet more then to the hands clasping, where I wanted the attention to be. So I made the hard decision for the sake of the composition to remove it.

Once that decision was executed and the arm was finished being painted, I went over my darks with a couple layers of glaze to deepen the wrinkle, in the hands as well as the sheets. added a few age spots, and glazed in some red to the arthritic joins in the main hand. Showing the painting to my friend who took the photo she says “I love the painting but it makes me cry every time I see it.” This is the highest complement ever! and I have to agree, it makes me cry too from my own precious Last goodbye with my sister. But it’s not the ugly cry that it used to be, it is the cry of being blessed by a women I will never fully let go of!

 

fbsignature“Last Goodbye” From the Ecc.3 series

14″x18″ oils on canvas

 

Grey in Gray

I have been absolutely slammed with wedding prep for my youngest son’s up coming marriage since returning from Florida to witness the birth of my eldest son’s first baby. Since I was there during the photo shoot (which included this amazing photo) I was quick to ask the photographer for permission to paint any of the photos she was about to take. With delight I was glad to hear her say “I was hoping you would ask that! Yes!”

View More: http://naomilynnphotography.pass.us/grey-thomas-miller

Photo by permission of naomilynn.com

Even as I sat on the sofa in my son’s home looking at the photos that the baby’s aunt Naomi took, I have been anticipating painting this photo. My son’s mother in law even offered to get me some art supplies so I could get started. But I chose to put aside my painting and just hold the baby for as long as I was able, before I had to head home to Oregon. SO even though I am slammed with wedding prep, I still snuck in a few hours here and there to paint this piece entitled Grey in Gray.

My students had asked me if I would teach a class on values once I returned home. So I thought what would be more appropriate then a gray values painting of baby Grey. (Even though I would have painting him for any excuse and will be for a long time I’m sure.)

So like always I started by taking my photo into photoshop and turning it into a black and white. Then I had a nice 8 x 10 glossy printed up and printed out a b&w photo copy as well.

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Using my values chart on the photo I then use the photo copy to write the corresponding value on the areas I had just checked. I did this twice as the photo was dark then I wanted the painting to be. The colored photo looked light and fresh but once I transferred it to b&w it was a little darker and I wanted a lighter feeling to the painting. So once all my basic values were charted I stepped them up 2 or 3 values and re-wrote out the corrected numbers on another photo copy.

To avoid any mistakes I then threw away the first photo copy with the original numbers on it. I did not want to take the chance of picking up the wrong copy and getting the values all mixed up on the painting. So then I blocked in the basic values on the different areas of the painting.

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Being that this was a painting of a very soft baby, I wanted the canvas to be very soft as well without a lot of grain to the canvas left. So I primed it again with a layer of gray gesso before beginning the actual painting, then sanded it smooth. This was one of the smoothest paintings I have ever done. I really like having a smooth canvas and it gave the affect I wanted it to have. I did find myself painting and then taking a dry brush and dabbing at it to smooth out and blend colors. I really haven’t done that much before but it gave the skin a very natural soft texture that looks and feels very much like baby skin.

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Once I got all the areas of the painting blocked in, I let the painting dry for a couple of days. Then when I was able to squeeze in a little more time on him I started to put more detail and more subtle value changes in. This was so much fun as I saw with every stroke that my grandson’s face was taking shape. My daughter in Law’s face came together just as quickly and beautifuly. I love this part of the painting as you really do start getting a 3 D affect as you put in more and more values.

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So again, it was time to let the painting rest and dry.

NOTE: I used Golden Open white titanium paint for this painting and mixed it with the regular Golden brand acrylic paint. Acrylic paints dry very fast, but the new Golden OPEN paint will keep the dry time open for a much longer time, giving me the time I need to blend subtle value changes! Which I love.

But unfortunately, this paint reactivates up to and past 3 weeks. Which means that this morning when I went to put on the finishing touches like adding final highlights, instead of adding, it actually lifted the dry color off, creating and very blotchy look, Which I, well, lets put it this way “Hate is a strong word, but I really really , really don’t like you! ” I can’t help myself!  I burst into song lyrics at random points all the time. LOL! i would always rather laugh then cry and that was my option now. So I decided to sing!

So to fix this paint problem, I had to spray the painting with a clear spray varnish to seal off the underpainting, so that nothing would move once I started to put on the highlights and hair details. This worked great. I hope you like it! 😀

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Thank you for taking your time to read about my work process. If you would like to check out my other pieces please click jackielittlemiller.com

Zebra Hearts

It’s valentines week! So I decided you post a blog featuring my most recent piece titled Zebra Hearts. This piece was done on scratch board and the painting with water color to give a little more detention.

This was a really fun project! I felt like a little kid again. I remember making our own scratch boards in 5th grade art class. This Scratch Board is a piece of masonite with a special ceramic coating and then a black ink scratch layer.

I started by tracing my sketch onto the solid black board with a white tracing paper. Since it was stripes I actually filled in the spaces with scribbled white so that I could keep the black and white stripes separated. It may not seem like it bout working with black and white stripes can get very confusing at times. This is the first scratch board I have done since 5th grade but I guess it is like riding a bike, because I never really forgot. I started by taking my x-acto knife and making hair like scratches on the surface of the white marked areas. I made sure to go in the direction of the hairs in my reference photo that I was granted permission to use by Photographer Sheilah Swanson who works at Wild Life Safari in Winston Oregon.

I made sure to make very light and fine lines in the areas where I wanted it to be lighter but not white. the zebra’s muzzle is one of those places. Hear I did directional scratches and some cross hatching.muzzle

The ears had longer hairs in them, and so I simply made longer intentional scratches so that the hair would look natural and lot like fence posts.ear

Adding a reflection in the eye was a little tricky as I really didn’t want a high light just a little bit of a haze to show the reflection of the sky. here again I did very fine scratches and cross hatching.eyes

When I had everything scratched in place I slowly used the flat of the x-acto knife and scraped the back ground away. I think it leaves a cool natural looking background. once that back ground was established I used water color paints to the white surface to give detention. I wasn’t sure it would accept the paint but it soaked right in and wouldn’t life out. so if you do this, build up your colors slowly as you wouldn’t get a second chance to lighten it  back up. Once the paint was dry, which was with in minutes, I scratched out the very white white highlights. As for signing it, well I simply scratched that isn too!signature

Final result is as 8″x 10″ Piece titled “Zebra Love” ready for framing. $250.00.

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If you are interested in purchasing this or any of my art just contact me at Jackielittlemiller.com

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Dream Dancer

leap-of-faith-8 So you might remember my Leap of Faith painting from about a month ago. This one I did for my Granddaughter who was the subject of the reference photo I used. i really liked the way that painting turned out so I wanted to try it on a larger scale. So I pulled out a 4ft by 2.5ft canvas I have had laying around and started to sketch out the leaper in a larger format to fit the scale of the new canvas.

I wanted this piece to be mostly a knife painting so I added a texture paste medium to my paints so the knife strokes would hold their shape as they dried. Being that the canvas is very large it did take me the whole jar of medium! Wow! But I was very please with how the background turned out.

I had drawn the figure on the canvas before starting and did a base coat of a watered down burnt sienna just to take away the scariness of a blank white canvas. But as I was laying the thick background color paint on the canvas  I kind of lost the edges of the figure so I just decided to cover the whole canvas with background then redraw the subject later.

Once I had the background knifed in I started to rethink the whole waiting till it dried to draw in subject. After all if I wait then the subject will have weird texture in strange places making it not read right. So While it was still tacky I placed the drawing of the dancer on top and intended to just use the indent of the pencil edge to make a trace line, not using any carbon paper as to leave a dark mark. I actually thought that i=this would just leave and slight indent in the paint giving me enough information as to where to place the subject. But when I pulled the paper off the outline of the subject came with it leaving a rough edge.0118171501

This is one of those things that Bob Ross would call a happy accident. I loved the roughness of the edge! In fact I considered leaving the painting as it was, but quickly changed my mind as I still wanted to work more on her. so I scraped out the inside of the outline so that I could start painting the gymnast.

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Here you can see the rough edges around the subject. I think it adds interest to the piece. Anyway as I finished up with the skin tones I realized that this was not a gymnast but a dancer. I’m the artist I can make these kind of decisions! LOL! She needed a pretty flowing dress and some point shoes. What do you think?

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So I started painting her dress. I liked the blue from the background as there was just a touch of it. So I lightened it and made a pretty pastel chiffon dress. This I did totally with the edge of the paint knife and lots of paint. I was very pleased with how it turned out0120171925a

But the next morning I was rethinking it. Though I still loved the dress it just didn’t make the dancer pop! I mean I loved the skin tones and how rich it felt, but the dress kinda made her look, well unfinished, flat, she just didn’t make the statement I wanted her to make.

So I took the photo of her into photo shop and did a quick dress color change on her. Now I am not skilled in photo shop at all and there was probably a much better way of doing it then what I did , but this worked. So I pulled colors from the background and laid in the color into the dress.

After showing these choices to a couple of artist friends of mine I decided on the dark blue dress. I just felt if gave the feeling I wanted and the pop that it needed. My daughter even suggested that I could put some sparkle stars in her dress echoing the galaxy feel from around her. SO I did. And Here she is finished.

Dream Dancer

31″ x 47″ x 1″

Acrylic on Gallery wrapped canvas

$1,000.00

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Once I get a good photo of her so prints I will finish her with a couple of layers of gloss varnish. This is also My first piece with my new signature that you will be seeing on all my works from this point out.!

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God bless your day and Thank you again for following my Works In Progress!

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Quiet Time

It seams like I have gone from a year long dry spell to an oasis of ideas. Working on several pieces at a time. This painting was so much fun and yet so much of a challenge. I wanted to do her with a loose brush stroke to give it a relaxed feeling as the pose is of my daughter Jenny relaxing and with me and a cup of hot chocolate. As I often do as I am talking to someone I think of how I would mix the colors to paint her face or the color of reflected light that catches her chin. Then I was struck by her relaxed pose and did the mom thing and pulled out my phone and snapped a few quick shots before she realized I was doing so.

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SO of course I started with a sketch and traced it onto my canvas as always. I worked on blocking in the back ground and then started on the face. I know I should do other things first but I am like a kid in a candy store when it comes to painting faces. I just can’t wait to get at it. This painting proved to me a true test as I lost her face completely a hundred times. well maybe not actually 100 but close.

When painting faces especially portraits that  you want to look like a specific person, the larger the painting the easier it is to get those features right. This painting is only 12″ x 16″ So her face is only about 2″ big. this makes getting subtle value changes and warm light cool light areas a little more difficult. Plus at this size if you facial features are off by a hair width you have a different person interlay.

Also I had a hard time getting her eyes to look up like in the photo. This doesn’t seem to be that bad but even if the eyes are the correct shape it changes the mood of the subject. I wanted the upward glance because it was happy and hopeful. But I kept getting the straight ahead gaze which made her look sad or even one time mad, which was not what I wanted at all. Because it isn’t who my Jenny is. She is fun loving and cheerful and always thinking of new ideas. That is the feeling I wanted to capture.

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Here is a quick run through of all the faces of Jenny! LOL! I know she is blue for a while, It was an underpainting that eventually got painted over also. These are just a few of the many faces. Over the weeks of working on her I would get so frustrated paint over the face and start again, working on something else on the painting until the face painted area was dry and ready to work again. This actually worked great because I had a lot of time to spend on perfecting the other area of the painting that I might not have taken if the face turned out great the first time.

Here you can see the purple underpainting of the shadows on the sofa and pillows which eventually got glazed a lovely sand color. It makes it a little hard to judge if you are getting things right when you paint things in colors that they are not going to be, but it is truly the values that matter the most so if they are right everything will turn out fine in the end.

It can be hard sometimes as I post my works in progress as I work on them. Sometimes that pressure makes me work harder to get it right, other times it makes me wish I would have kept thins one to myself! LOL! But even with all the frustrations I am totally excited about how she turned out.

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Thank you so much for following my Works in Progress! You support and encouragement are so appreciated!

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Check out my online Portfolio @ Jackielittlemiller.com

It’ Not White

I am an art instructor at our local Ye Old Art Shoppe , and have been trying to explain to my students that in actuality white is hardly ever pure white. Even thought our eyes perceive it that way. So to demonstrate this I took the below photo and took it into photoshop and pulled touches of color out of it’s surroundings, just so the student could see the true color they were seeing.

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Not only is white not always white, it is not necessarily as light as our mind thinks it is either. You will see here how dark some of these “whites” actually are and how they are not really white at all. We have mauves, blues, and beige, warm gray, cool gray and sand colors; but Wait! Where are the whites?

Making a chart like this is so helpful even to an experienced artist as our minds lie to us constantly. It is nice to be able to hold your color pencil right up to the local color and be able to make the correct decision even if it feels like it is totally wrong.

It will be difficult to trust it and actually put that color down, but until you do your paintings, drawings are not going to read as real.

My students give me a hard time because I am always talking about getting the values (Light and darks) right. Values are the most important thing in being an artist, at least as far as I am concerned. This photo shows us that even a dark gray can appear to be white when it is place where it is surrounded with darker values. In fact if you practice at getting the values right, soon enough when your dark values are right, you will start to notice right away that placing the white beside it is way to bright and to great of a contrast!

Another note to shades of white is that white that is facing a light source will be warmer. Yellows, pinks, or beiges may be used. Those whites that are in shadow or even facing the sky will be more Blues, purples or greens. Depending on that colors surround them will decide the value of the “white” Not white areas. You should practice this by painting something that is white. Paint a white flower, or a white cat! Something that will force you to see the other colors that are in the whites.

This is also truth for Black. Black is hardly ever black. In fact, using straight black will also make your painting look flat and boring. Mix some blues or purples, maybe some reds or browns in with your blacks. Just as white has warm and Cool tones, so should your blacks.

Remember that your mind lies to you. We have an amazing brain designed by an amazing God. This brain fills in the gaps of us so that the brain doesn’t have to work so hard. This is why we see “White” or “Black” when there is no white or black present. Our mind makes it consistent and simple for us to understand so our mind can rest and not burn out by being too stressed.

Once you train yourself to see the other colors in whites, and the blues and purples in the shadows… It will blow your mind! I love it! I don’t look at anything the same anymore. If I am sitting looking at a beautiful landscape, I am marveling at the colors. If I am sitting and talking to you, I am wondering what colors I would mix to get that beautiful reflected light that bounces off the underside of your jawbone or the underside of your brow.

Color and value, shadows and light, they are so very beautiful and so necessary to show case one another. If your artwork is looking a little flat, you probably need to punch your not black darks darker and your not white lights a little lighter.

 

Hope this was helpful! Have Fun Creating!

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Cat Fight

Wow! I just found out and I am so excited to tell you all that my new Painting “Cat Fight” has won in the Advanced Category on the Facebook CPAL Featured Artist Contest for the month of January. This is such a great honor, as it is an international group of Color Pencil Artists from beginners to experts. The contest is voted on by the members and there is nothing quite like being recognized by a group of your peers. This means that “Cat Fight” will be featured on the facebook banner for a month, plus It will be published in an upcoming issue of the magazine Color Pencil.

Story of creating Cat Fight

My friend Sheilah Forbes Swanson has an awesome job out at Wild Life Safari in Winston Oregon; where she gets to take photos of the animals up close and in person. She has given me the awesome privilege of being able to use her photos for reference for my art. As soon as I saw this photo I knew I needed to paint these girls.

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First I prepped my canvas with Art Spectrum fine tooth colourfix primer on the unstretched  canvas which I had taped to a board. Then left this to completely dry.

Then I started By by graphing out the photo so that I could increase the picture in size.Then I can trace that larger image onto any surface I want to paint or use my colored pencil using a large piece of carbon paper.

I had done a tiger face earlier in colored pencil in canvas I really liked how it had turned out.So I decided to try that again to make a series.Then I set forth to trace the Cat Fight onto a piece of canvas.

I love eyes! I always start with the eyes, kinda like eating desert before dinner. I just can’t help myself. My reasoning is that if the eyes are not right nothing else matters. This may not actually be true, but it is true to me!

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Here I basically blocked in the face in the color tones and values, then worked them down into the texture of the canvas using odorless mineral spirits on the colored pencil to melt it down into all the diets of the canvas so there wouldn’t be white spots anywhere. This I did through out the first layers of the tigers and background.

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Bit by bit I did the same process on the whole canvas surface, blocking in the underpainting. I then sprayed the entire piece with a textured fixative by Brush and Pencil. This is an awesome product and it made it possible for me to put lighter colors on top of the dark ones. You still have to be mindful to leave light spots light to retain the light in the painting, but it makes it easier to lighten things back up a bit.

Remember that when ever you are painting or using pencils to draw an animal with fur that you need to make you r pencil/brush stroke in the direction of the fur. You must constantly refer to your photo because underlying muscle and bone cause the hairs to shift position as they proceed down the body/ face…i-more-t2

Here I start refining the face and adding the detail. I just wanted to stay on the face and not finish the rest. Her eyes kept calling me back to them. I had to stop and step back from this piece for a while at this point because some of my values had gotten off kilter. Some things needed to be punched much deeper, others needed to be lightened up. at this point everything I do on the cats is done with hair strokes in the proper direction.

NOTE: don’t fence post your hairs. Hair can aim in a general direction without everything going in exactly the same direction.

z-finished

Once the values were corrected, and background filled in with shadows punched just a little darker I was done. I could have gone into more detail on the forelegs but I felt that I wanted the focus to be her eyes anyway so I left the rest less detailed.

To give the canvas I nice protective surface I sprayed it with 4 layers of Golden’s Archival varnish with UVLS protection. This you can get in a Gloss or satin finish. I prefer the Gloss, but us a satin until I get it scanned or photographed so there is no glare.

captivating_Miller_08g                                   See My online Portfolio at jackielittlemiller.com