Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lisa D.

This was my first painting with the Firehouse group in about a month. It felt good to be back. This portrait is in acrylics on paper (about 18" x 24").

BTW, the new look of this blog is attractive.

The red lettering looks very festive.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Whole Room...In Oil

My first oil after a six-month hiatus was... a bit uncomfortable. I was complaining the whole time and must have sounded quite annoying to my colleagues. This was a 24 x 24" oil on canvas. I distorted the dimensions of the room to give it more of a claustrophobic feel and based the colors of the pre-painted oil background on the colors of the acrylic background from the previous week (see post below) because I wanted to save time to work on the figures. Predictably, the colors didn't turn out as crisp as I envisioned  because I was painting on a still-wet background. I should say that the way I normally paint with oil is to reserve open canvas space for most things non-background so these baby food colors were deeply disturbing. But I revised, working from memory. For example, I exaggerated the lights from the lamps above and I repainted a some colors the way I remembered them. I like it more now, and I think I did something different, although I can't yet tell what it is.

Phillip In the Foreground

I started out with a completely black 20 x 16" canvas, and worked my way out of that darkness by adding people and objects from the background to the foreground with acrylic. Because the first layers were dry before I placed the next figures, this method was perfect. I ended up paying a lot of attention to Phillip's gesture. On the floor you can see Andrew. This painting was relatively drama-free for me, as it was a small canvas, I was working in the amazingly forgiving medium of acrylic, I have painted his view a thousand times, and I had started with a dark background.

The result of this happy intersection of circumstances  was that I barely had to think about what I was doing. I operated on automatic, and the results are satisfactory, but I also know this is not the situation where I do my best learning.

Julie Paints Bonnie

Here I should be honest and say I don't really love this 24 x 24" oil on canvas of Bonnie, our substitute model. I like the composition, but not the color harmony. The palette was a split primary: ultramarine and pthalo blue, cadmium and alizarin red, and cadmium and lemon yellow with titanium white. But the harmony is olive green, cerulean, orange, and a warm and cold white. A yucky "harmony."

In the field of literacy, the theory of automaticity explains the inverse relationship between reading comprehension and text complexity. Basically, your brain's juice is so tied up interpreting the longer sentences and complex vocabulary in a difficult text, that you have little energy left to interpret what you are reading. I believe that something similar happens when you switch mediums or try out a new one. In this case my brain may have been so tied up with the difficulty of thinking in oil after a long period of using acrylic that I had no juice left to spend on other issues.

A look at previous winter Firehouse paintings made me realize the actual problem: all of the values are too high. The room was actually darker, but in this painting the brightness level approaches that of an emergency room. With the lower values, the saturation would have come down a tad, but more importantly, the color harmony would have clicked. Orange would have become burnt sienna, cerulean would have become a blue-gray, olive would have turned into a nondescript dark green and so on. You get the picture.

Monday, December 19, 2011


 acrylic on canvas 24 by 30
Prudence is a favorite model.  She has a lot of energy and  takes charge of the space in the room.  I finally did one that  I feel deals with Prudence's space.  Karen

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Painting Occupy

One of our figure painters, Jessica Joy Jirsa, has been painting the Occupy movement in Oakland and San  Francisco. You can view the occupy video put together by another painter Anthony Holdsworth and see some wonderful examples of her work.  Anthony  put together the video to document the events of the last few months at the sites and  he writes about it on his blog.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Some Favorites



Andrew Pick sent these painting to post on the blog. He has been coming for many months often painting in both the morning and evening group on Tuesdays. Soon he plans on moving to New York City and he will be missed in our group. These are some of the paintings he has done and are his favorites.  I believe they are all done in oil on canvas.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Signe Models

Signe  acrylic on canvas 18 by 24 
Signe was holding a book in the pose. The big flower pattern stirred up a little bit of the quietness. The lines help me to draw the shape and curves of her body. I added a glass of water on the table, she deserved it.   Philip Ng

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Karisa in the Evening Group

 acrylic on canvas 18 by 24
Karisa looked very nice in her beautiful silky night robe. I loved the choice of the setting in the pose. The patterns of the cushions added a lot to the atmosphere of the painting.   Philip Ng

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wendell Models at the Firehouse

Wendell Sports Bling
 oil on canvas   24 by 18
Wendell was fun to paint with his strong features and proud bearing. His jewelry was also very interesting.
Iris Sabre

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Viridian Green Dress
  acrylic on 20 by 24 canvas

I liked what Lauren chose to wear for the pose. Only wish I had done her great shoes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


A quiet, thoughtful moment as Stacey gazes at the book spread out on her lap. 
Iris Sabre

 oil on canvas  18 by 24


Karissa needed a cup of coffee or toothpicks to hold her eyes open, but she was a beautiful model. Her black kimono with the pink flowers was lovely next to her skin and masses of dark wavy hair.

 oil on canvas 18 by 24
Iris Sabre

Friday, November 11, 2011

Artist at Work

Ricardo posed for us in the evening session at the Firehouse. The canvas and the palette in the pose were actually blank canvas panels. I blocked in a portrait and made up the palette to make the painting looked more interesting. The colors on the palette in the picture were actually a copy of the colors I used in my palette. This is an acrylic on a 18" by 24" canvas.
Philip Ng

Friday, November 4, 2011

Painting Lisa at the Firehouse

When I was setting up the model I was thinking of a Milton Avery painting of a young women at a desk writing a note. I had planned on doing a set up something like that.  It turned out our model Lisa looked a lot like the women in the Avery painting.   I added some of the other painters to the composition.

Painting Lisa at the Firehouse
 acrylic on canvas  24 by 30

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lisa Models

  acrylic on canvas  18 by 24
It is quite a challenge to paint in the evening session at the Firehouse. We have a model for one session only. With little thinking, I used large shapes and lines to block in the composition, then added color. In the halfway, I noticed all my focus was on the left of the canvas, the colorful cushions, the bench and the model. There was nothing on the right. I brought in a chair and the model's handbag into my painting. Although the shadow of the chair was on the wrong side but it help to break up the wall space, so I kept it.  To move the focus a little bid more to the right, the color of the cushions was subdued. I added more detail work and  light on the book. To push the focus to the right a little bid more, I made contrast of the reflected light against the shadow of the chair on the wall. A couple of brush stocks were used to break up that long line on the wall.    Philip Ng

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Diana in a Green Dress

Diana is a great artist and a great model too. I have been painting with her in the morning session at the Firehouse for more than a year. This was the third time I painted her. The painting was done with acrylic on a 18" x 24" canvas.

Philip Ng

Friday, October 14, 2011

My Car

The Gold Saturn   oil over acrylic  18 by 24  
Sometimes I rework older paintings that did not work well enough and sometimes I just paint over them. This one I reworked with oil over the original acrylic.  I can't remember who the model was but see the old couch we used to have in the room and outside the window is my gold Saturn.   Karen

Sunday, October 9, 2011


Where do I begin? I guess the story has already been told, that this was not a model from the Model's Guild. This is a 24 x 18" acrylic. I am frustrated with the photo and the colors it shows, probably because it was already 5 pm when I took the pic. What you see here is my attempt to fix it with photoshop so it resembles the original more closely.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Graffiti Artist

Drew is a great model.  He is different from the usual pretty face with his strong features and wiggy hair.  He kept a difficult pose, looking upward, which I'm sure was hard on his eyes.

The Graffiti Artist
  oil,  18 by  24
Iris Sabre

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Carla at the Firehouse

Woman with Flowers  acrylic, 24 by 30
We had Carla model for two session at the Firehouse. No matter how many times I paint her there is always something new to try with her.


Looner as Jesus

Yesterday I went to the evening session specifically to paint Looner, whose intriguing features and hair promised an interesting experience. About twenty minutes into this portrait the model started to look like Jesus, so I went with it. The irregular halo needs work, but overall I'm happy to have had a chance to paint the savior. This is in acrylics on paper and the scale is a little larger than life.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Waddi was out stolling one evening when he saw us setting up our easels to paint.  Did we need a model? he asked.  As it happened, the model we were expeccting was a no-show and Waddi saved the day.

Waddi   oil 24" by 18"
Iris Sabre


Judith  oil 24' by 18"
Judith has her long slender fingers perched precariously on the rim of the glass.

Iris Sabre

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Accidental Male Model

It happened one evening we did not have a model. A gentleman walked into the shop and offered to sit for us. What a happy fit!  He did a good job! This is a painting of him. I did it with acrylic on a 18"x24" canvas. 

 Philip Ng

Monday, September 26, 2011

Karen Models

Women with Book  acrylic on canvas, 24 by 30
Karen modeled in the evening group last month. I worked again with very large shapes and brush strokes.  KZS

Cynthia and Spunky

Cynthia and Spunky  acrylic on canvas, 24 by 30
I am way behind in taking pictures to post. Got very frustrated with the bad photos I got and now my decent camera can't focus so I am using my point and shoot.  I had a good time with this painting of  Cynthia and Spunkiyusing large strokes and minimal definition. Sorry about the date stamp across Spunky.  Karen

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Using the Space

Recently I've challenged myself to just paint what's in the room. These two acrylics were almost finished at the Firehouse, then I worked on them from memory in my studio. The top painting (the one with just Nathan) only has two figures and was done on a larger (24 x 36") canvas. The bottom painting shows a crowded night. There were two other painters in the room, so people were standing closer together. Months ago I was painting more views of the door and windows. I found views of either side of the room too difficult to paint. They still are! I did not take a break during the painting of either one of these two.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Today I had zero energy and almost didn't come to paint, but I'm glad I forced myself. This portrait of Tyler is in acrylics on paper.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Louise and Iris, Painters of the Night

This is one of my most favorite acrylics of late, of the ones I've done at the Firehouse. I believe the size was 24 x 24". I love the palette: burnt sienna, yellow ochre, dioaxine violet, thalo blue, and alizarin crimson. Iris was painting with a wrist brace. I wanted Iris to be a silouette, but I was never able to control the urge to depict all of those rich and darker shades my eyes were still able to discern even in the darkness. With Louise, I just wanted to do justice to her million dollar hair color. The easels were a pain, but I finished at home from memory.


This was an acrylic painting, 20 x 16", done with a lot of gel and in semi-darkness. I discovered the perspective was askew and corrected some of it at home. A sedate palette: titanium white, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and thalo blue.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I did three drawings and one (unfinished) collage of

Cynthia. This drawing here is the only one that

turned out sort of okay. It's in pastel on paper

treated with sauce and gold powder.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Painting Prudence

Prudence in acrylic
JoAnn McMahon sent this recent painting done in the evening session to post.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Stripes and Sparky

Stripes & Sparky (detail) acrylic on canvas panel
Painted from life... a mature blonde bombshell in a 'fruit stripe gum' dress, with her dog (Spunky? Sparky?). I was pleased when she said I had captured the gestalt of the pose.


Monday, August 22, 2011


Christopher posed 2 sessions for us. I did several sketches of him in pencil and one in charcoal. Here are two of them that I did with pencil. I used the 2H, HB and 4B graphite pencils on acid-free sketch paper.   The sizes were 11"x 14".   
  Philip Ng


Diana is always nice. One day she did a short pose for us before  we started a painting session. This was a pencil rendering on a 11" x 14" 65lb paper.

Philip Ng

Friday, August 19, 2011

Evening Session Paintings

Iris Sabre sent these two paintings to post. She works in oil in our Tuesday evening session so both of these were done in one session. We have a different model each week.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Christopher in Biker Gear

Christopher posed for us twice in his "biker" gear at the Tuesday morning group.  The preliminary sketch is sanguine on paper and the finished oil painting is 16"x20".  I have sketched Christopher in the past in other groups, but never with his clothes on!  I loved his Fu Man Chu beard, but didn't feel it necessary to include in the final painting.   Teresa Chuh

Diana Blackwell shows at Bridge Art Space

We are happy to announce Diana's  show at Bridge Art Space in Richmond. Many of these strong pieces were done in our Tuesday morning figure group. See you at the reception!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Juliana in the Evening

Juliana took a beautiful pose. This is a 24 by 30 canvas. i worked with large shapes and brush strokes and finished in only two hours. Decided not to add any more detail. This photo got cropped somehow and will replace it when I take a better one.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Red Camisole

This 18 x 24" acrylic gave me a good "run for the money," as it took everything I had to finish it in three hours. There are some revisions I'd like to make, but overall, I'm happy with it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


Christopher did a wonderful pose in tough-guy biker get-up. I had a blast doing four studies of him in dry media. These three head studies are the most successful. The black/white one is charcoal on plain paper. The other two are pastel/charcoal/colored pencil on watercolor paper treated with sauce.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Twilight Painting

I don't remember who this is, or the date when I painted it. It was not a big canvas, 16 x 20" in size. I really like how the model came out, though. I have been using a whole lot of gel and doing a lot of scraping in these paintings, and it really shows on this one.