20 minute portraits!

Last night at the Hive gallery was a closing show and there was music and entertainment. So I brought my gear and went for a couple 20 minute portraits. My kind victims were Yuki and Debra. The feeling painting these was like being in a 17 minute nosedive plummeting straight to earth for a fiery crash and then pulling out at the last second and landing roughly in some trees. Exciting! I think overall the ended up ok! Yuki was tough, if anyone knows here shes like trying to paint a hummingbird. oil on canvas, 14 by 11

teaching painting

Another installment in my ongoing blogposts about teaching painting! lol! Here's a couple of the nudes from last week that have been painted over opaquely. I have a feeling that the accurate repainting of a transparent ebuache is akin to what Degas meant when he said, "Ah! The transparent impasto of the Old Master's!" When I was younger I always thought he was talking about some special kind of painting medium, but now I feel he's actually talking about a process, a way of arriving at color. I liked how these came out given the triage environment that is the classroom. oil on canvas panel, 24 by 18

echo park color

After teaching today I went back out to Echo Park with my underpainting and gave it a layer of color. It was interesting weather today, half sunny half cloudy, kinda hazy. Lots of 'atmospheric perspective'. There was a gnat hatch at some point and they really seemed attracted to the painting getting stuck all over it, but I'm just going to let it get good and dry and then dust them off. I plan to take it back to the location once more, but it's all right so far. Here's the painting and also here's a re-composite in photoshop of the painting in progress with the original sketch. If I wanted to be more loyal to the drawing, this is an easy way to re-site the composition. oil on canvas, 24 by 48

central park/echo park

I was at Pasadena Central Park today for the digital landscape class I'm co-teaching. Today was such a beautiful day, I was able to paint a nice color study! I liked the light at 8am, bright and backlit, low and glare-y. I tried to get that feeling on the canvas for the plein air demo today. There were a lot of students there and I hope they all got something from it!

After that I went home and with charcoal sketched in the rest of the composition on the Echo Park work in progress. Using a printout of yesterdays blog image, I was able to quickly and easily lay down placement of the details of the composition in relation to the willy-nilly underpainting brushstrokes because they were super-imposed. It's kinda fun actually, and once you get a few larger landmarks located right, the rest of the details fall into place! I coat this with some acrylic matte medium and it's a good underpainting which I plan to take back and paint color plein air on top.

to start a painting

Yesterday I did a sketch of Echo Park and today I started the piece at home. I had an old 24 by 48 inch canvas that I started a piece on a little while back, but it wasn't going anywhere. It's had some thick paint buildup, but it was all acrylic. So today in order to get something going and to overtake the underlying texture, I went all over it again with acrylic laying in the simplest structure super thick and by Saturday it'll be nice to take back to the location for color. It's a fun way to get going, especially if you have a good overall understanding of the lights and darks. In photoshop, I've superimposed the line drawing, which is a great way to get the composition more accurate because you can easily place the detail in relation to your brushstrokes. It's like a projection of sorts. The underpainting becomes it's own 'graticola'! acrylic on canvas, 24 by 48

echo park

After Let's Paint TV, I headed back to the east side to get things done and paint a little. I went out to Echo Park today and made a drawing of the view. I'm going to go back in the morning with a canvas and see if I can capture a little bit of the beautiful light there. Here's a pic of the drawing at the location and a scan with a little bit of photoshop work on it. In this drawing I'm more interested in good placement rather than trying to capture the particular light.

teaching painting

One of the lay-in techniques I demonstrate to my composition and painting classes is an abbreviation of the academic technique called an "├ębauche". Academic painters would draw the lines of the composition on their canvas and then varnish it down and let that dry before the began their underpainting. Then on the white or lightly toned canvas, they would block in the entire composition with transparent paint over the indelible line drawing using lots of fast drying medium and no white... it's like water color painting with oils. This was uber-academic Bouguereau's manner of beginning a painting and you can see to what degree of finish he could take a piece so it's a sound way to go. For the demo, I use an india ink brush pen which you can wipe off with a wet paper towel for corrections, but is indelible to oil and turpentine. The good thing about this technique is you can always see your line since the paint is transparent, so it's a good way for the painter to get over their fear of "losing" their line drawing when they begin a painting. Also, whether the paint is transparent or opaque, you can get a very realistic arrangement either way. Here are the three lay-ins from the three painting classes this week; this is a fun set-up I do, I try to vary the lighting from week to week so the students don't get into a rut with the limited lighting options in the prop room at school. oil on canvas panel, 24 by 18

digital landscape

I'm co-teaching a digital landscape class at Art Center this semester. The idea is to go to a location and take photos, draw, make color sketches in order to return to the computer lab and with photoshop create a new image inspired by the information collected on location. Last week we went to Descanso Gardens between rain showers, and I took all sorts of photos from all different vantage points, close ups, distant shots. I had the idea that I wanted to make a composition inspired by some of the paintings of Pieter Bruegel with all sorts of nooks and crannies, foreground versus distance and a certain breadth to the scene. So today I was at the lab at school and in about four hours collaged all my different photos into an entirely new compostion; I added a few other photos cut and pasted from the internet for the building and characters, gave the piece a more coherent light and shadow arrangement and color scheme and this is what I came up with. I think the whole Asian theme came from the Japanese tea garden at Descanso. It's fun to work digitally again, reminds me of the old video game days! And photoshop is such an awesome tool for composing pictures! An interesting note regarding the photo reference, the mountain, rocks and trees that the pagoda is on is a low-angle close up shot of a bonsai arrangement near the entrance to the gardens... it was so cool looking I knew I wanted it somewhere in my piece.

painting at Descanso Gardens

Well, yesterday was supposed to be a paint-out day at Descanso Gardens for the landscape class I'm teaching at Art Center but the weather wasn't cooperating. It was grey and drizzling or raining most of the day. But a few students came out and got some pictures and I told them to go on their own some time during the week so hopefully they will.

I wasn't that inspired by the landscape at the gardens at the moment, not a lot of color. So I decided to paint a painting of Grace painting a painting! She had much more interesting color on than the plants did! oil on canvas, 18 by 14.

The Street Painter's Guide to the Pavement

After many years of requests about a street painting tutorial DVD, I've finally created one. Working with colleague and friend Peter Westerink from StreetPainting.nl, I performed a short, step by step tutorial street painting for the DVD titled, "The Street Painter's Guide to the Pavement. Volume 1: Getting You Started" Peter and Coldsun Productions did an amazing job filming and editing the first in what we hope to be a series of tutorials for artists.

"From the tools and supplies you need, to the techniques of sketching your image, applying chalk, and achieving rich colors that pop off the pavement, you will have all you need to get started!"

Available soon through StreetPainting.us and StreetPaintingSociety.com

teaching painting

Today Lets Paint TV tried out a new segment on the show, the 5 Min Painting Lesson! This was done off the cuff and could definitely be expanded upon, but for a first attempt and really trying to pack a lot of information into 5 (well, actually 9) minutes, it's not too bad. It's my internet teaching debut on Let's Paint TV! Enjoy the entire episode, the painting lesson starts at 23:40

colorado bridge mini

I went out to Pasadena to get a little painting in before the forecasted rains. And I mean 'little' painting as this is a 6 by 12 inch oil on canvas. It was a beautiful day out...


I'm not sure if this is my "art" but I did these yesterday and I like them so I thought why not blog them. They are couple samples of the pieces I paint for the education of the students at the Art Center College of Design where I teach part time. I have two classes back to back on Tuesdays so here are two works painted back to back from scratch of the same model. Deja vu all over again!! The model in and of themselves is study enough, but I also try to create an interesting lighting situation and for this setup I throw a skull in there for an easy 'vanitas' or Hamlet-y theme. I lit the model with a high, bright, focused spotlight going sort of for a caravaggio/rembrandt-y feel. When I do these demonstrations I work quite a bit more restrained than what I consider my "art" but I try to still paint with bold thickness and impasto so the students see that you can get subtlety and light and form without having to paint smooth or timidly. At this point in the class I have the students working with a limited "warm/cool" palette so these are done with burnt umber, ultramarine blue, and white with the emphasis on looking for value and then secondarily looking for warm or cool colors. Those three simple colors can create quite a realistic effect.

For those interested, the word "vanitas" is Latin for "emptiness". It is also an historic genre in art well described by this quote from wikipedia: "Paintings executed in the vanitas style are meant as a reminder of the transience of life, the futility of pleasure, and the certainty of death..." Not sure if all that is coming through, but hey, there's a skull in it. oil on canvas panel, 24 by 18

Soul Journaling: Advanced Techniques!!!

Soul Journaling: Advanced Techniques Workshop!

Marrying many of the techniques I use in artwork outside my journal, I have created a new 5 week Soul Journaling workshop packed with techniques that stretch the imagination of what a visual journal can be. Not only can these techniques help you to see the limitless possibilities you have in your journals but you can carry them with you to other facets of your creative work as well.

You must come to this workshop with an open mind. Your journal is your safe place in this world of chaos and the art we will be creating here is not for our critics, our friends, our husbands, our parents or our kids (though if you want to share you can). The art we will be creating is for us, for our souls. Beautiful or ugly, happy or sad this is our space to speak the truth. Your truth. Let go of your preconceived notions of what “Art” should be and join me in…

Soul Journaling: Advanced Techniques!

Week 1: Making Altered Photographs and adding folded pages to our journals.
  • Learn how to quickly add pages to an existing journal and alter photographs into beautiful pieces of art

  • Journaling prompt

Week 2: Journaling with our photos.
  • Painting and journaling on added pages

  • Making layered “peeking” windows and adding altered photos to pages

  • Journaling prompt

Week 3: Distress techniques using tags:
  • Staining your tags: I will share my secret recipe that I use in many of my altered projects for getting a nice aged look (and smell) to papers

  • Distressing your tags : I will share some great tools and lots of tips for distressing your tags (These techniques can be applied to many other Altered projects as well)

  • Journaling prompt

Week 4: Putting it all together:
  • Collage and journaling with tags, making pockets

  • Journaling prompt

Week 5: Gilded Collage:
  • Transfers with Gold leaf, building windows and arches

  • Journaling prompt

5 weeks, $65 per person, classes begin Friday, May 15th!

Here's a sneak peek at photos from lessons 1 and 2. The lessons themselves are packed with pictures and step-by-step instruction...the average lesson per week is 17 pages long!


How do online classes work?

Once you purchase this class you will be sent an e-mail invitation to our private Yahoo group, where you will find your supplies list, step-by-step class instruction, group messages and more! Each class is broken up into weekly segments (one lesson for each week) that take approximately 3-4 hours each to do. Feel free to print these out and work at your own pace. The new lesson for the week will be added every Friday evening.

You may purchase and enter this class at any time before the class begins. After a class has begun you may still purchase the class but you will have to wait to have access until the next class begins. I prefer Pay pal, but you can also send me a personal check or money order. Please include a current e-mail address with your payment. The Yahoo group will be open for workshop members for three weeks following the last posted lesson. I will be available to answer questions at any time in the future.

How are your techniques and prompts different from the others out there?
I believe that Soul Journaling is for everyone and I try my best to write it for a broad audience. My prompts and easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions are well suited for young, old, artists and non-artists alike. With this instruction you will never have that blank page staring back at you and not know what to do next. You also have the option of following along step by step or just using the ideas as a jumping off point for your own pages. My prompts are also fairly subtle, enabling you to go as deep into yourself as you wish or keep it lighthearted and fun… the choice is yours.

Why do these classes cost money, when the first 22 days of Soul Journaling were free?
Soul Journaling has become a huge part of my life, and helping you (my journalers) on your art journeys is more fulfilling than just about anything else I’ve ever done. My intention is to make it a more permanent part of my life, but I can’t do it alone! So, I’ve really thrown myself into these classes, and shared within them some of my best techniques (things you will be able to use from now on in your art.) In return, your payment will help support Soul Journaling and allow me to continue working with all of you. Thank you for taking part in the newest and most exciting installment of Soul Journaling!

Do I need to be available when the class starts or available during the entire class?
No, each week a new .pdf class file will be available for viewing on our class yahoo site. You can print out these classes to follow at your leisure. If you will be away from a computer during the entire duration of the class just let me know and I can email you the .pdf files so that you can access them at your leisure when the class is over. Each .pdf file is filled with easy-to-follow direction and lots of color photographs. I will also be available anytime, even after the close of class, to answer any questions you may have. If you are concerned about missing class email and chats I would recommend that you take the class at a different time, when you have more access to a computer. Each class will be offered at least twice a year to accommodate different schedules.

How do I sign up?
Click on the Pay pal link on the left hand side of the page or on the above link. Approve the class amount and viola! you’re all signed up. You should receive a yahoo group invite from me at least one week prior to the start of class.


Email me to arrange a personal check or money order payment at sarah@caspiana.com

Anything else I should know?
You MAY sell pieces with the techniques learned in this class. I would love for you to site me or my website if possible but you are under no obligation. I do however ask that you DO NOT share these class lessons, notes, or techniques with others as I have gone to great length to create and write these for you and they remain under my copyright. I appreciate your understanding in this matter.

***I highly recommend completion of Soul Journaling Days 1-22 before taking this class.*** They can be found at: http://sarahwhitmire.blogspot.com/2008/07/s-journaling.html

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