Tag Archives: oil paint

Lots of fun art learning opportunities coming up. I will be teaching 4 classes at The Atelier in Minneapolis, and a Wednesday evening class at The Art Academy, LLC. in St. Paul. There will also be a special lunch presentation at The Atelier. Read on.

At The Atelier

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. Feel free to contact me with any questions regarding the classes.

Special Presentation

Lunch & Learn Thursday: Papers

papers-lunch-and-learnChristine Mitzuk will discuss the different papers we use in creating our art and the many choices we have. She will answer questions on what papers to use for what media. You will also learn useful terms and the different properties of paper to consider when buying paper to use for your own projects.

Please arrive a few minutes early and bring your own lunch.

THURSDAY, Sept. 29, 2016, 12:00 noon - 1:00 PM. $10

Fall and Winter Classes at The Atelier

Gestural Figure Study

Gesture figures study done in soft pencil on paper.
Gesture figures study done in soft pencil on paper.

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. A materials list will be supplied upon registration. Beginners welcome.

Fall class starts TUESDAY, Sept. 13, 4:15 - 6:45 PM, $250, 15 weeks.

(Gesture will be offered in the Fall and Summer. It will not be offered in the Winter session. Instead look for Costumed Figure Drawing and Painting in the Tuesday afternoon class spot in the Winter-Spring class brochure).


digital painting of earth elemental man with antlers surrounded by green flame playing the drum by christine mitzuk
Earth Elemental

Stretch your imagination! During this class, students will develop imaginative pieces based upon a story or individual ideas. 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.


Fall class Starts THURSDAY, Sept. 17, 7:00 - 9:30 PM, $230, 15 weeks.
Winter class starts THURSDAY, Jan. 28, 7:00 - 9:30 PM, $230, 15 weeks.

Portrait and Interior

portrait class at the atelier in minnesotaStudents 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. Instructors: Christine Mitzuk (Tuesdays) & Laura Tundel (Thursdays).

Fall classes starts TUESDAY, Sept. 13, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
or THURSDAY, Sept. 15, 7:00 - 9:30 PM, $250, 15 weeks.

Winter classes starts TUESDAY, Jan. 24, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
or THURSDAY, Jan. 26, 7:00 - 9:30 PM, $250, 15 weeks.

Exploring Color: Color Theory and Color Mixing

Color Mixing Class - Paxton Palette ValuesExperience color hands-on through creating color boards, wheels, and value scales. Using the colors of The Atelier’s Paxton Palette, we will explore the attributes of color: hue, value, and chroma. Projects will be paced by order of completion and students will work at their own pace. We’ll discuss the color wheel as it relates to painting with the Paxton Palette. Topics will also include mixing “mud”, Munsell and Gamblin color space, direct vs. indirect painting, color temperature, color harmony, color psychology, and a bit of color history. Plus we’ll demystify the information on paint labels. Please contact Christine (cmitzuk@gmail.com) for what to bring to the first class.
Starting THURSDAY, Jan. 28, 4:15 - 6:45 PM, $230, 15 weeks

Register for Atelier classes one of four ways:

Option 1: Call The Atelier at 612-362-8421. Main hours are 9am - 4pm Central Time or during evening classes. Please leave a message if you don't get a live person.
Option 2: Print out the registration form from the current course catalog PDF.
Option 3: Contact me and I'll help you out,

At The Art Academy, LLC.

The MorriguIllustration and Imaginative Painting

Explore your creativity by developing an imaginative picture based upon an existing story that you select, or an idea that you originate. Work at your own pace to learn the time-honored steps of the creative, visual process – from idea generation, through preparatory work, to completed project. Emphasis will be placed on storytelling through composition and character development, as well as how color theory enhances visual communication. Students choose to work in the medium with which they are comfortable. Christine has experience to support watercolor, colored pencil, pen and ink, or oils.

Starts WEDNESDAY, Sept. 28, 8-9:30 PM, 8 weeks.

The Art Academy's mission is "to provide excellent traditional art education for beginning to advanced children, teens and adults." At The Art Academy emphasis is placed on practice over talent.

Learn more about The Art Academy and how to register on their website.

The Art Academy is located in St. Paul on the corner of Snelling and Scheffer Avenues.
651 Snelling Avenue South, St. Paul, MN 55116. Some off-street parking available.

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Come celebrate art and the completion of a painting!

bear cliffs studio shot by christine mitzuk
Bear Cliffs mostly complete. Just a few finishing touches left before this weekend's show!

My latest oil painting, Bear Cliffs, will be on display this weekend during Art-A-Whirl.

Many of my fantasy pieces will be displayed, as well as some portraits, and still life. I'll have originals, prints, note cards, and studies for sale.

Friday: May 15, 2pm - 9pm
Saturday: May 16, 1pm - 8pm
Sunday: May 17, 12pm - 5pm
Please note that my times are slightly different than the official Art-A-Whirl times. Also, I'm not in the official book so don't use that to find me. Use the address below.

I'll be set up in Cyd Wicker's studio: 1701 East Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55414, #285. Look for a big, brick building on the northwest corner of Stinson and East Hennepin.
It's in the same building as The Atelier Studio Program of Fine Art: second floor, one studio down from The Atelier.

There is free, off-street parking, or you can skip driving and get a FREE Metro Transit pass for the whole event.

I hope to see you there!

*Art-A-Whirl is a huge open artist studio event in Northeast Minneapolis. To learn more about Art-A-Whirl, and find even more art to see visit the official site: http://nemaa.org/art-a-whirl

This experiment isn't my idea. It's based off something Jeff Larson does during his still life painting workshop at The Atelier. I've been wanting to do this for a while. I watched him do something similar during the workshop demo but wasn't able to take the hands on portion of the workshop. So here's my attempt.

Paint is limited in how it can reproduce values. I wanted to explore values and how they need to be adjusted in a painting to create the illusion of value relationships as they are in nature.

I started with the shiny gold ball, then added the matte one, then the deep red one. The idea being that I would have to change the value relationships. What appeared dark on the lighter ball would no longer appear as dark when the darker red ball was added. So I had to adjust the values a bit to get the value relationships to mimic nature.

Holiday Ball Study Start in oil paint
Holiday Ball Study Start

I should have started with the matte finish ball since it doesn't reflect as much light as the glossy one. I would have painted the matte highlight as light as I could. Then if I added the glossy gold ball next, it would have forced me to change the highlight value even more than I did. Oh well. Next time. I did have to adjust the darks though as I added the darker ball. I still got quite a lot out of it: understanding value manipulation, and especially the enjoyment of slinging painting around.

Here's the finished study

Holiday balls oil paint study
Holiday Balls Study done in oil paint on cotton duck canvas.

Have a great new year!

oil painting of a woman holding a sand dollar and staring dreamily into the distance, perhaps she's a mermaid, by christine mitzuk
A personal piece, Sea Daydream.

This piece went through a LOT of changes from the initial concept. Maybe I'll post some of the process for this one at some point. We'll see.

She's an original painted with oils on linen canvas mounted to board, and framed. She'll be with me on display at Gen Con. I plan to have limited edition prints ready as well.

head study painted with oils by christine mitzuk
2.5 hours, 8"x10" gessoed hardboard

Colors used for this head study

  • Perylene Black (Winsor & Newton)
  • Yellow Ochre (Winsor & Newton)
  • Permanent Yellow Light (Rembrandt)
  • Permanent Red Medium (Rembrandt)
  • Permanent Magenta (Winsor & Newton)
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson (Winsor & Newton)
  • Untramarine Blue (Utrecht)
  • The white was either Utrecht White, or Flemish White by Utrecht. I forgot my usual white at home so bummed some from our Portrait Co-op host. Thanks Frank!

This time I played with Perylene Black (Winsor & Newton). It's actually a very dark green that's slightly bluish. It's also transparent, as opposed to Ivory Black which I usually use which is semi-transparent. (Note, the green shadow is NOT Perylene. It's a bit of Yellow Ochre + Ultramarine Blue + white. There are a few faint strokes of Perylene on top of the first mixture.)

The Perylene mixed with any of the reds yielded some lovely darks. Throw in a little yellow and the mix shifts to an interesting brown.

I also thought I'd try Magenta in mixing flesh. It gave me some very nice cool notes.

I also gave the Permanent Yellow Light a try. That gave me some very nice peach flesh notes for this model.

And if trying new color combinations wasn't enough, I started the drawing differently too. This time I used Yellow Ochre tinted with white to do the drawing.

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.

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): http://www.gamblincolors.com/newsletters/studionotes16.html

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.

Last week I posted about how I transfer a drawing to canvas. This week, paint!

I'm using oils and decided to use a limited palette. Initially I was going to use Ivory Black for the cools but the flesh was looking dead so I added French Ultramarine Blue. Basically I'm using versions of the primaries Red, Yellow, Blue (which can be mixed in many ways) plus White and Black. FYI - Yellow Ochre and Ivory Black mix to make a lovely dull green.

- Titanium White
- Yellow Ochre
- Cadmium Red Light
- Ivory Black
- French Ultramarine Blue

oil painting portrait study lay in by christine mitzuk
Oil painting lay-in.

Here's the lay in. At this stage I use a good amount of odorless mineral spirits. The paint is thinned down to about melted ice cream consistency, maybe milk consistency in some areas.

I try to block in the big shapes, thinking about value first and then color. Going for unity first (the variety will come later). I try to keep in mind where the light source is, and how it hits the planes of the face. If I think about the vertical corridors of value groupings, I'm better able to keep the planes and shapes in their families of value.

But that variety of color is oh so tempting. I keep having to remind myself, "No no. I must stick to value and local color."


Portrait head study by Christine Mitzuk done in oil paint
Day 2 of painting the portrait in oils. More paint, less solvent.

Here's the next day. Still kind of at lay in stage. I use less solvent (odorless mineral spirits) and more paint. Still thinking about shape, value, color. Still trying to go for unity and building up a body of paint. I try to keep in mind the answers to "where is my lightest light, my darkest dark?" and "where are my most intense red, blue, yellow and how intense are they, really?"

It's like I'm taking notes, marking where I see certain values or colors. Still pretty rough looking.

As I move through the process with this study, there are some things I'm going to change. The ear is too big and isn't sitting back visually with the rest of that side of the head. So either the ear value needs to go darker, or the cheek value needs to lighten up. Plus I still have some value wrangling to do elsewhere (the corridors of value aren't unified). There are 8 weeks left to the class so I'm not short on time.

I think next class I'll just dive in and try to paint more from gut reaction. We'll see how that goes.

As a present for my husband, I painted a posthumous portrait of his mother. Kinda tricky. I had to work from photos, and my memories and impressions of her.

Step 1

Transfer the photo reference as a line drawing/tracing to the canvas and start painting. I thought this would be a shortcut. Turns out it wasn't. I found I wasn't really understanding the forms and it was looking flat. So...

Step 2

Do a drawing. Not a highly rendered drawing but a drawing from observation instead of tracing. Instead of just copying what I saw and trying to exactly place all the bits, I actively thought about form (shapes, volumes, overlapping forms, and underlying structure), plane changes, and value groupings.

head study done in conte sanguine pencil on brown paper
Head Study
Utrecht Recycled Sketchbook paper
Conte Sanguine Pencil, Conte White

Next time if I transfer a picture, I'll try to be more mentally engaged with forms. Though I did enjoy doing the drawing so maybe a quick one stays in my process.







Step 3

Go back to the painting. Think about shape, volume, value, color, edges. With each layer of paint continue to think about shape, volume, value, color, edges.

I had a few progress shots but due to technical difficulties, they are long gone. Instead, here's the finished piece (or at least really close to being done).

oil painting on linen, 9"x12"
oil painting on linen, 9"x12"

Materials and Painting

This portrait was painted in oils. Generally my process goes something like this. For the lay-in/first pass I thin the paint with Gamsol (a type of odorless mineral spirits. It has the least amount of evaporation per hour so I'm not breathing in too much junk). Following the "fat over lean" principle, I use less Gamsol and more paint in the next several passes. Nearing the end when I'm working finer detail and edges I add a little Galkyd Lite to the mix. I tried regular Galkyd ages ago but found it set up too quick for me.

Right now I mostly use the Paxton Pallete from training at The Atelier (with a few additions of my own for this specific project). Eventually I'll experiment with other colors.

The Paxton Palette lends itself well to natural colored subjects, like people, because of the qualities of mineral pigments v.s. modern/organic pigments. Most all the colors in the Paxton palette are mineral pigments with the exception of Alizarin Crimson.

Paxton Palette Colors

  • Ivory Black
  • Raw Umber
  • Alizarin Crimson
  • Indian Red
  • Light Red
  • Cadmium Red Light (was Vermillion but Cad. Red Light is a good replacement)
  • Cremnitz White (this is lead carbonate so I'm using up the one tube I have and then I'll be switching to something else)
  • Cadmium Yellow Light
  • Naples Yellow
  • Yellow Ochre
  • Viridian Green
  • Ultramarine Blue
  • Additions: Manganese Blue, Cerulean Blue, Permanent Sap Green Deep (this last one mainly because I wanted to see how it mixed for cool shifted flesh tones).


If you're interested, you can read more about mineral vs. modern colors

here: http://www.gamblincolors.com/newsletters/studionotes19.html

here: http://www.goldenpaints.com/justpaint/jp26article2.php

Yes they're product pages, but you can glean some helpful general information too.