Monthly Archives: July 2015

Next week I'll be at Gen Con, July 30 - August 2, 2015. I'll have originals and limited edition prints available. Bear Falls will be there. I'll also have my dragon eye drawings and paintings on display and available for purchase. I'm really pleased with how I designed the framing of the little paintings. Here's a preview:

by christine mitzuk mini oil paintings of dragon eyes framed
Approximately 2"x2" framed oil paintings. Frame size approximately 5.25"x5.25".

This will be my third year at Gen Con. I'll be at a table again in Artist Alley. If you're at the con, stop by and say hi!

I've been wanting to do this for a while and I'm finally getting around to it. Dragons. Dragon eyes to be specific. For this project part of my research included a field trip to a local reptile store, and a friend sent me pictures of her beautiful bearded dragon lizard. Fun!

christine_mitzuk_dragoneyes_drawingDrawing Dragon Eyes

The measure about 2.125"x2.125", pencil on Rives BFK. The Rives is mainly used as a print making paper. I know a few artists that like using it for their drawings and I like the look of their work so I thought I'd give it a try. I used graphite pencils: B, 4B, 6B. I tried smearing around some graphite powder from sharpening my pencils. I didn't like that very much on this paper. I found it difficult to lift out. Next time I might use more of the vinyl eraser rather than the kneaded one.

christine_mitzuk_dragoneyes_paintPainting Dragon Eyes

A friend gave me a few 2"x2" canvases, already with a base color (one blue, one purple, one lime-green, and one white). I don't think I've ever worked on toned canvas so I thought I'd give them a try too. I'm liking having one of the values already on the canvas.

Both the drawings and paintings will eventually be available for purchase. I'm hoping to have them completed and framed in time for Gen Con (July 30 - Aug. 2, 2015). Then they'll be available at my table in Artist Alley.

Bear Falls is my second attempt at this concept. I'll show some of the process I used to create it.

First Attempt

watercolor painting of bear headed waterfall the first attempt
The first attempt at Bear Falls. Watercolor.

Some of you may remember the first attempt. At the time I thought it was pretty good. It mostly met my goals for the idea with the skill set I had available in 2002. Mostly but not quite.

Second Attempt

oil painting of bear head waterfalls by christine mitzuk 16 by 20
Bear Falls

The more I learned, the more I wanted to revisit the idea. Through many thumbnail sketches I eventually realized I still wanted to make the landscape the star, but I really wanted to people the world. I borrowed the idea from early landscape painters of using a teeny figure to play up the power of the land. Thanks to some peer feedback, the figure got even smaller (which helped). This time around, I also played more with distance and depth.

I also used more of my senses. What would it feel like to be that tiny figure at the head of the falls? Rushing wind. Roaring water. The wind whipping my hair and skirt. Spray from the falls hitting my skin. The call of the birds barely audible over the falls.

This newer version has much more of the feeling I was aiming for.

Maquette Building

A maquette was very helpful. I needed something to look at to figure out the lighting. Plus building it with my hands seemed to help in thinking about the space.

Step 1


I made a cardboard form for the overall falls shape. Then I sculpted the bear heads. I made my own modeling clay. There a many recipes online. It worked pretty well, but gravity distorted some of the heads. It did give me some interesting texture because of the salt. Next time I'll probably use Sculpey or similar.

When the bears were dry I baked the whole thing in the oven at the lowest temperature possible. Kids don't try this at home.


christinemitzuk_bearfalls_maquette2Step 2

To give the falls and land some volume, I built up the forms with paper mâché.




christinemitzuk_bearfalls_maquette3 Step 3

To create whitecaps and add dimension to the water, I used a palette knife and applied some Acrylic Modeling Paste & Acrylic Extender. I painted everything  with acrylic paint. Then to give the painted water surface a more reflective quality, I coated it with some Acrylic Gloss Gel. After the paint dried I added the little castle shapes (see the image with step 4).



acrylic paint over paper mache cardboard and home made modeling clay
The painted maquette. No caulk has been added yet.
Acrylic Gloss Gel applied to the water surface which was first painted with acrylic paint.


Step 4

final maquette for bear falls painting by christine mitzuk
The final maquette.

To give me a better idea of falling water shapes, I  built up layers of caulk. I used DAP Clear and DAP Crystal Clear. To give it a frothy look and make it look a little more like sheets of water in some areas I moved the caulk around with a toothpick. For several days the maquette had to sit out in the porch with the windows open because the caulk was quite smelly.

When the caulk was dry I added a little white paint to some of the frothy water areas.

Including a maquette in the process of creating the painting did add extra hours but I think it was worth it. I definitely got shadow and form information from it that I could not have made up well.

I've learned a lot since that first attempt thanks to The Atelier Studio Program of Fine Art, Rebecca Guay's IlIllustration Master Class, SmArtSchool, and my peers. I'm grateful for these opportunities and am excited to see what else I'll learn. Art on!

Cancelled due to low registration. The regular evening Illustration class is happening Thursday evenings for a few more weeks. The 15 week evening class will be offered again in September. Contact me if you'd like to learn more.

Summer Illustration Workshop

oil painting of bear head waterfalls by christine mitzuk 16 by 20
Bear Falls

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.

Please register in advance to reserve your spot (scroll down for registration information).



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 (

If you don't have preferred drawing tools, I recommend:

  • sketchbook no smaller than 8"x10"
  • kneaded eraser
  • white vinyl eraser
  • HB, 2B, 6B
  • pencil sharpener
  • Derwent Ivory Black Drawing Pencil (or Conte 1710 black pencil B or similar)
  • 12" ruler
  • tracing paper

July 13-17, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Instructor: Christine Mitzuk
$200, 1 week

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

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. If you have difficulties with stairs, please contact the school for more information.

Register by one of four ways:

Option 1: Call The Atelier at 612-362-8421 and tell them to sign you up for the Illustration Workshop. Then mail in the the check with the registration form. Please leave a message if you don't get a live person.
Option 2: Print out the registration form from the course catalog PDF.  Fill it out and mail it in with a check to The Atelier.
Option 3: Print out this form, fill it out, and mail it to The Atelier, along with payment. See form for instructions.
Option 4: Contact me and I'll help you out,