Monthly Archives: April 2014

My Summer classes start May 20. Find registration information at The Atelier Studio Program of Fine Art is a friendly little traditional art school located in Northeast Minneapolis, MN (a bit on the outskirts of Dinky Town). The school is on the second floor of a red brick warehouse on the corner of Stinson Blvd. and East Hennepin Ave. Off-street parking is available.

Illustration Workshop (NEW!)

watercolor of hummingbirds singing in a barbershop quartet by Christine Mitzuk
Hummingbird Quartet

Let your imagination fly! Get a taste of illustration during this week long, half-day workshop.

We’ll work to develop a strong drawing for an imaginative piece based upon an existing story or your own idea.

Topics covered will include composition, brainstorming, thumbnails, research, sketch development, and studies for value and color. Emphasis will be placed on composition, and storytelling.

oil painting of woman with sword and gun having just slayed a tentacle monster by Christine Mitzuk
Cheeky Slayer

For the first class please bring a sketchbook, and your preferred drawing tools. If you have a laptop or other device with internet access, bring that too for reference research. If you have a specific project in mind, please contact me (

July 14-18, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Instructor: Christine Mitzuk
$180, 1 week

10 Week Summer Art Classes

gesture drawing

Gestural Figure Study
Gain a better understanding of gesture of the figure. This class will mesh The Atelier and Studio Arts figure study methods. Students will explore what gesture is and ways to capture it through quick poses, progressively longer poses, and experimentation. Materials list will be supplied upon registration. Beginners welcome.

Starting TUESDAY, May 20, 4:15 - 6:45 PM
$180, 10 weeks

Stretch your imagination! During this class, students will develop imaginative pieces based upon a classic or favorite story. We will move from idea generation to preparatory work and on to final art. Emphasis will be placed on composition, and storytelling. Students may choose to work in the medium with which they are comfortable. Christine has experience to support watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, or oil paint.

Starting THURSDAY, May 22, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
$150, 10 weeks

portrait class at the atelier in minnesotaPortrait and Interior
Students draw in charcoal and may progress to oil or pastels. The portrait model will be set within an interior. Advanced students can take advantage of the entire composition. Capturing the likeness is emphasized. Color and techniques in oil and pastel are covered.

Starting Tuesday,May 20, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
Starting Thursday, May 22, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
Instructors: Christine Mitzuk (Tues.) & Laura Tundel (Thurs.)
$180, 10 weeks

Today I did an oil painting demo at a local art supply store. You locals probably know I'm a part-time employee there but today I wasn't. Today I was the "visiting artist". The manager asked me to "just do your thing". So I did and I had some fun too.

Here's the drawing phase. I tried to keep in mind mass and depth, overlapping elements, and perspective.

oil painting demo still life set up and drawing in paint
Oil painting demo set up and drawing.











The next photo shows my first and a half pass with oil paint. First I tried to keep in mind shape and value, then addressed color. I gauged value of a shape by comparing it to the value of neighboring shapes and where it fit into the whole scheme. I gauged color a similar way. I asked myself "what could I use to mix this?" "is it warm or cool?" The answers were found by looking at the shape's color alone and then comparing that color to neighboring colors and the whole scheme.

I decided to leave the pull cord out because I wanted to focus on the dragon. Plus it seemed awkward and very high contrast compared to the other elements. Maybe it'll find its way back into the picture. I'm not sure.

wooden toy dragon oil paint study by christine mitzuk
Toy Dragon Oil Study











In case you are wondering, the dragon was a gift from my folks a few years back. They found it at Lark Toys in Kellogg, Minnesota. If you visit, ride the carousel. The carousel at Lark Toys is magical. The animals are unique, hand-carved, exquisite pieces of rideable art. They are a delight for the eyes with their jewel-like colors and intricate detail. Just beautiful.

mysterious oil painting of a deer skull, crow quill pen, parchment, a frog in a jar and mysterious bottles by christine mitzuk
Alchemist's Workbench, oil on canvas.

It's bubbling away there on the back burner. My Art Soup. All the ingredients are blending their flavours together to make what is currently my personal way of picture making, or my style I suppose. Some ingredients I was given. Some I deliberately sought out. Some just kind of fell in to the pot.

Lately I've been thinking about influences. All the interests I have had. All the things I've done. All the choices I've made. All the people that have moved through my life. All are ingredients in my Art Soup.

I remember something Allen Williams said, "notice what you notice" (I might be paraphrasing).

Then the next question pops up, "why did I notice that?" "What characteristic of that thing made it interesting to me?" Sometimes I just have to appreciate the thing for a time and maybe the answer of why will come later. It'll be added to my Art Soup and blend with the existing ingredients.

I'm kind of excited to sample my Art Soup several years from now. I wonder what it will be like?

oil paint head study by christine mitzuk using sepia, chromatic black, and flake white replacement
Head Study in Oil Paint on Canvas Board.
This model had very lively facial expressions but she was also incredibly wiggly. It was tricky but this was a fun painting session. I think her antics allowed me to capture quite a lot of her character.

In an effort to see for myself what different colors and paints do and decide what I like, I've been experimenting. For this head study I tried Rembrandt Sepia, Gamblin Flake White Replacement, and Gamblin Chromatic Black. This combination also gave me a chance to concentrate on values (more one that in a different post).

I liked using the Sepia quite a bit. It was a warm dark, compared to my usual selection of Ivory Black. I also got to experience what I've heard about Rembrandt paint as being oily and having a very smooth consistency. I enjoyed painting with it.

The Chromatic Black was a nice punch of dark compared to the Sepia. I'll need to try it with colors next to see how it mixes. If you're interested, you can read more about Chromatic Black on the Gamblin website (I thought it was interesting information but I like color theory):

The Gamblin Flake White Replacement lived up to their product statement. Its consistency is definitely ropey and my brush strokes are mostly retained. This is the 3rd or 4th time I've used it. I'm not sure this will stay on my palette but I'm going to experiment with it a bit more to see if there's a different way to use it. I feel like I'm fighting the stiffness or thickness of the paint when I put brush to canvas. I could probably add something to the paint to lessen that resistance (maybe a tiny bit of odorless mineral spirits, or one of the alkyd mediums, or maybe a little oil + odorless mineral spirits. (No. I don't use turpentine. I don't like the smell. Personal preference.)

I'm looking forward to playing some more. Ideally I'd like to have a similar color selection in my sketching and color study media (watercolor or gouache) and my final painting in oil. I think it would make the transition from idea to final a little smoother. We'll see what happens.

time pieces illustrating 10,000 hours
10,000 hours

Once upon a time a friend and I had a discussion about talent and mastery. She brought up that old 10,000 hours saying. You know the one: It takes 10,000 hours to master something. Then she pointed out that 10,000 hours = 40 hours per week for 5 years. 365 days in a year, 50 work weeks (actually about 52 weeks but let's take 2 weeks off for holidays/vacation/sick time), 5 days a week, 8 hours a day multiplied by 5 years.

Five years of consistent, focused practice.

Duh. I hadn't ever thought to do the math. I just assumed it was a figure of speech to drive home the point of "yes you need to work at something A LOT if you want to master it".

I think this explains the answers I received from so many professional artists when I asked about what they did after school. They all seem to have felt like around year 5 they came into their own. They all phrased it differently but basically they finally felt like they were painting confidently and consistently (well, more often than not) in their own voice.

I don't look at this as an obstacle. I actually find it kind of comforting that many (maybe all??) artists go through a similar experience. Yeah there might be some wobbly steps and stumbling,  or feeling like I'm flailing about till I get traction by gaining understanding. I think that's all par for the course. The flailing and stumbling isn't fun but hey, that means I'm learning something. And learning something makes it a good day.