Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Two Women

Two Women   acrylic on canvas  18 by 18
I worked on this one started at the Firehouse.  Adding the setting and another figure.


Friday, December 21, 2012

Portraits of Male Models

Stephen     oil on canvas

Oteino     oil on canva
Steven   oil on canvasa
Deirdre Shibano sent these three portraits to post.  They were done this year in our 11 to 2 pm figure painting group on Tuesdays at the Firehouse.  All of them are in oil. We have a male model  in rotations with three women and one man.  We used to do it more often but there were not as many men and we had too much repetition.  Recently there are quite a few new male models.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Emeryville Public Market

Painting at the Emeryville Market     acrylic on canvas 
Some of the EBFP have put work in the show sponsored by the Firehouse Gallery at the Emeryville Public Market.  At the opening a few of us tried painting in the crowd and outside the market.  There were bands performing inside so it was pretty loud but it was fun.    Karen

Saturday, August 18, 2012

City View

City View    acrylic on canvas   24 x 20
I have been working on this for awhile and no longer recognize the model.  But I know it was at the firehouse because of the vase and the flowers.    Karen

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Howling Dog

Coffee Break                        oil on canvas
Anyone who paints in our figure painting group at the Firehouse from 11 to 2 pm. on Tuesdays  is familiar with the dog who sits with the man at the coffee shop next door.  He is a scruffy little guy who howls at sirens or other noises only he can hear.   Philip Ng did this wonderful portrait of him.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Carla and Ricardo

Ricardo          oil on canvas

Summer Hat #2             oil on canvas

These are done in oil on canvas in one session and measure 24"x18".   Although Ricardo has a book open on his knee, he looks very contemplative and sad.  The one entitled Summer Hat #2  is of Carla. She has posed for this and other groups a lot yet this is the first time I remember painting her. I liked her hat and the shadows it cast.  She was very cheerful with her turquoise blouse and earings.           
 Iris Sabre

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Portraits of Barbara and Ricardo

Add caption
The morning figure painting session in Firehouse North restarted after a short Summer break. I did these two charcoals in the latest couple of sessions. They are on 18" x 24" heavyweight drawing paper.    Philip Ng

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chris  oil on canvas 18 by 24

Chris was dressed strangely in a patchwork shirt and skirt, but he looked very natural working on his computer.

Seeley  oil on canvas 18 by 24
Seeley was very relaxed. I think she actually went to sleep. I like the diagonal lines and the deep blue color next to her skin.      Iris Sabre

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Sarah   acrylic on canvas 24 by 20
I worked on this in one session and it went well at first but then I decided to rework before the end of the session and by the end it was unresolved. I worked on it at home at it get to a better place.  Karen

Man in a Suit

Man in a Suit  acrylic on canvas 24 by 30
I did this awhile ago but never posted. Our model wore a 3 peice suit. Pretty unusual outfit as we are more use to shorts, sweat pants, and tank tops when we have a male mode.  Karen Zullo Sherr


I came to the evening session because Seeley would be modeling.  I really like Seeley's androgynous persona. Unfortunately my drawings weren't very good, but these two are the best of the bunch.  The top one is in charcoal on paper, and is a reasonably good likeness.   The bottom one, in pastel on paper treated with gouache and pastel ground, doesn't represent Seeley's proportions well, but has sort of a nice mood.

Monday, May 21, 2012


Drew  oil 16 by 20

Drew  oil 16 by 20
 Drew was a true crowd pleaser.  His stature and hair made him well liked by all.  The top painting was from the first session. I would have liked to go further with it but unfortunately, he forgot his bandana 2nd session, so I decided to just start a new painting.  I am happy with the results but would have liked to have added more playful abstract elements.   Jessica

(more to follow)

Lisa D.

Lisa D   oil  20 by 16
 While I like the figure and the coloring, I wish the stool and bench didn't turn out as generic boxes. 

Jessica Joy Jirsa

The Process of Painting

I thought I'd share a few more paintings from the morning figure group at the Firehouse. As I catalog all my work while prepping for my new website design, I was amazed to see how much I've grow since my frst session back in August 2011.

 The Drinker
-20x16- This is the first painting that I feel I fully completed without over painting.  It also was my first break in painting the background as is and was really excited about the effect of the abstract elements. You will see this more and more in future pieces.             Jessica Joy Jirsa

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Sarah is sort of new to the Guild.  She's very pretty and poses well.  This portrait is in acrylics on paper.

Open Studios

You are invited to my Open Studio at the Sawtooth building, 2599 8th Street #41 from 11 to 6 pm the first two weekends in June.  If you are doing the Pro Arts Open Studio send us a digital version of your card  to post.     Karen

Thursday, May 10, 2012


 Ana sat for us in the Firehouse for 2 sessions. She was a nice model and held her pose very well. The painting was done with acrylic on a 12" x 12" Masonite. 
Philip Ng

Portrait Study, Looner

 I did two portrait studies with Looner from different angles. This is one of them. He had this dramatic hair style which was fun to draw. The portrait was done with charcoal on 70lb drawing paper.
Philip Ng

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Head Shot

It does not look like it, but we laughed a lot talking with this model. I was using 12 x 12" Lanaquarelle 140 lb. paper. I started drawing with an ordinary pen, then moved to successive washes. What I like about this little sketch is that the body has some gravity because I took the time to check proportions, used a plumb line, etc. She has a very european head so I kept double-checking the head measurements too.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Two Views

12 x 12" on Lanaquarelle 140 lb cold press
12 x 12" on Lanaquarelle 140 lb cold press

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Model with Book  acrylic on canvas 24 by 18
I have worked on this on and off for awhile and it has changed so that I can't remember who the model was.  I enjoy the process of painting most when there are lots of transformations. Will post this again if it changes more.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Sometimes everything clicks.  This was my first session ever with Ana, and I'm delighted to say she's great--very interesting, attractive features, and perfect modeling technique.  I made her nose a bit too long, but otherwise this is a fairly good likeness.  It needs a little more work to be truly finished.  In acrylics on paper.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Another Siri Pose

These were my first watercolors after a year and a half of no action in that medium. It is sometimes difficult to move to another medium so quickly. I don't even know what kind of watercolor paper I used, only that it is 12 x 12." I like the strong colors and the anatomy, but  technically speaking these were not my better ones. Still, it is good to share our work.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Siri   oil 18 by 24
Karen arranged dramatic lighting on Siri, which accentuated her beautiful red hair and pink skin.
Iris Sabre


Denise at Artist's  Loft     acrylic on canvas  24 by 20
I am trying to have more fun with the backgrounds at the Firehouse and in this one I was thinking about what it might look like if Denise was modeling in one of the lofts that are near the Bay Bridge in San Francisco.  It is still a work in progress.   Karen

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Larry, reading

This was a frustrating session for me. Larry took a seated reading pose and had a little trouble holding it--the position of his head was not consistent. Since I was working only on the head, this was a problem for me. At one point, one of the other artists asked Larry to correct his pose, and he complied--taking him into what was, from my vantage point, a completely different head position. So I started over on another sheet of paper. After twenty minutes of the new position, Larry somehow went back to the original head position and held it pretty consistently for the rest of the session. So I went back to the first painting and dropped the second one. Neither one is "finished" but it's obvious which one I spent more time on. It's also obvious, to me anyway, how much range there was in the position of his head.

Denise in pink dress

This was not my finest hour. Denise brought a wonderful, colorful costume and took a very interesting pose--so interesting that I wanted to
move beyond the face and take advantage of the arms, legs, etc. Alas, I'm not very used to painting the whole figure any more. It threw me for a loop.
I sacrificed the chance for a good, life-sized portrait without even getting the whole figure in. Life-size seems to be my comfort zone.

Looner, again

Looner's a great model and very fun to draw. Both of these drawings are charcoal on paper. The profile drawing is on paper that was stained with red wine.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Randall the Pirate

Randall the Pirate    oil 24 by 18
Iris Sabre sent this painting done during the recent session that coincided with the North Shattuck Wine and Food Festival. We had 5 painters who were all very good sports and kept painting even though the room was filled with people who stopped by to taste wine.    Iris said, " I went to my happy place while painting Randall during the wine-tasting last week. With 100 plus people in the room drinking Kombucha the intensity of his focus was matched only by my own."


Prudence  oil  24 by 18

Prudence reclined opulently amid the deep blues, purples and reds of her scarves and pillows.
Iris Sabre


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Prudence as Olympia

Prudence as Olympia
Oil on canvas, 18 x 24"
It all started with Prudence's pose. We were joking around and then, seeing I would have a bit of extra time, I measured my height vs her figure and drew an outline of myself in the background. I figured I would challenge myself to paint a credible portrait of myself as Olympia's servant in my studio. I did the underpainting for myself at the very end of our three hour period.

Once home I asked Sarah to take a picture of me in the same position I had sketched, using an old laptop as a prop. We used the light from our living room window because it came at the same angle as the light from the lamp at the Firehouse, but once in my studio, I turned it into incandescent light by using the same color mix I was using at night, titanium white, cadmium yellow and ultramarine blue.

I know the composition isn't fantastic, but I was really going for the challenge I had set myself and not so much for a perfect product. Now that I have a method, I will try this again and again until I feel more comfortable.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Denise On The Red Chair

Oil on canvas, 18 x 24"
Denise is an unusual model in that she can sustain a smile for three hours. I don't know how she achieves this.
For this painting, I mixed each color with a lot of stand oil. Normally I don't do this when I work all a prima, but the resulting mix is too thick. So mixing each color beforehand with stand oil gives the whole painting a more fluid feel. You can really see it in the objects near the window.

I worked on the area next to the window first, for fear of losing the blue light after the sun went down. Then I worked on the room, and lastly, on Denise. I revised in my studio, making a mental note of what I wanted to change before I left the firehouse.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Edna, Angel or Muse?

Edna, Angel or Muse? Oil on canvas, 11 x 14"
I could not decide, but what I did know is that I wanted to change the setting. This painting was done at the Firehouse. She was dressed differently and was sitting atop a mound of cushions that were all these different colors, so the color harmony was not helping me that night. I decided to change it all and came up with this more bucolic setting. Karen did the same but she gave Edna a great window to look at.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Larry Reading


Larry Reading  Acrylic on Canvas Size: 18" x 26"
I went back to Firehouse North for a second session and Larry was our model. A very pleasant man who read art journals for about three hours while a group of us painted him. He got breaks every fifteen minutes. In this case, most of the painters seemed to want him to get back into the exact pose he was in from the beginning. I don't get hung up on details so it doesn't matter to me, but I understand their concerns. I enjoy trying to capture the different points of view in the same sitting and think it gives the work a sense of rhythm. I can see such a big difference in painting from photographs and a live body. There are details that can get lost in the translation...isn't that the name of a movie?
Kathy Wills

Friday, March 23, 2012

Edna Models

Reclining Woman
  acrylic on canvas  28 by 22
I wanted to have Edna in a reclining pose.  We don't have the right kind of pillows or props to make a good reclining setting so I ended up doing my own setting.  So did some of the others painting that evening.  Rebeca put Edna lying on a hillside.


Friday, March 16, 2012

A Selection of Paintings

I finally got Jessica Jirsa, who comes to the morning figure session,  to send  some jpegs of her paintings to our blog. She said, "There is something old, new, a dog and something blue...I am now married to this figure group."  They are all oil on canvas or board.   Enjoy!

Bonnie   14 by 18

Lady and Her Dog   20 by 16

  20 by 20

The Magician
 16 by 12