Several of you have asked if I make up the scenes in my paintings or do I use reference photos? I definitely refer to pictures we’ve taken over the years to design my compositions. Jack used to laugh and say, “Even if her life depended on it, Mikki couldn’t follow a photograph exactly!” Well, he was right. I’m always adding elements here and there or combining several pictures for one painting. The image above is one of my all time favorite gates in Santa Fe. I’ve painted it many times from various different angles, using a wide spectrum of hues for the gate and window. Today, I’m beginning my newest variation, come follow along.
The first step is to draw the basic outline of the architecture and large ceramic containers with a thin oil wash of MUD (2 parts Ultramarine Blue + 1 part Alizarin Crimson) + Liquin. The open area of the window is covered using the MUD mixture and another mix of Ultramarine Blue + Liquin. To see an enlargement you may click on this or any of the other pictures.
Vigas, a common Southwestern architectural element, are the ends of the roof beams that protrude from the side of the building. They can be seen everywhere you look in Santa Fe. I have to be careful to maintain the proper perspective as I draw the cylindrical vigas.
Painting begins with the adobe walls. The recipes for the color mixes shown above are as follows: #1. Two shades of White + Ultramarine Blue. #2. All of these mixtures are made from combinations, in various proportions, of MUD + Cadmium Orange + a tiny, tiny touch of Pthalo Blue + White. The colors for our Double Primary Color Mixing System that Jack developed line the top of my palette. To learn more about this system CLICK HERE.
The cast shadows of the vigas become cooler, or bluer, the farther away they are from the base of the beams. Take time to study shadows on a bright, sunny day. You’ll notice they are very dark nearest to the object that is casting them, but are more faded toward the distant end of the shadow.
The wrought iron bracket and basic shape of the unique lantern over the gate are blocked in. I’ll come back later and finish out the details.
Brilliant, hot pink Bougainvilleas cascade over the stair-stepped adobe wall. They are first blocked in with Magenta + Permanent Rose and a range of light to dark shades of Permanent Rose + White (#1). Leaves are then added with mixes of Viridian Green + White, Viridian Green + Pthalo Blue + White and Pthalo Blue + White (#2). Some of you may say, “Hey Mikki, Bougainvilleas won’t survive the cold in Santa Fe!” As a gardener I well know, but that’s the joy of painting. I can make any plant, grow anywhere! AND they’ll never need watering or weeding!
We’ve gotten off to a great start! I appreciate you watching today, do come back to follow the progress.
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