Tag Archives: painting

oil painting of the may queen in color sauntering down a gray drab city street by christine mitzuk
May Queen, 12"x16" oil painting

Come check out my art at the 25th Annual Women's Art Festival. ONE DAY ONLY.

I'll have originals, prints, and cards for sale. There will also be a few special holiday deals.

Over 130 Women Artists, Live Music, Food & Drink, Lots of fun!

Saturday, December 9th, 2017
9:30am - 4:30 pm
Colin Powell Center
2924 4th Ave S, Mpls
Plenty of free parking in the Wells Fargo ramp within 1 block!
(Street parking is limited and the No Parking signs are not very visible so parking in the ramp is strongly recommended).

Free admission/$1 per person donation suggested to musician's tip fund.
For more information: www.WomensArtFestival.com

25th Annual Women's Art Festival

cover of book titled hawthorne on painting
A collection of notes from students of Charles Hawthorne from critiques he gave of their work.

I read art books in the hope that I'll learn something new, or find a new-to-me way of looking at an old tool or idea. I seek out information in an effort to grow as an artist and try to be a more effective instructor. I consider a book good if it gets me thinking about how or why I do things and gives me a different way to look at the fundamentals of picture making.

This is one of those books.

It's only about 1/4" thick but it's chock full of ideas to think about. It's a collection of notes from Hawthorne's students, collected by Mrs. Charles W. Hawthorne. The chapters are broken into outdoor model, still life, landscape, the indoor model, and watercolor.

I'm about 3/4 through the book and I'm liking it quite a bit. As someone who has been painting and studying this stuff for a while, I'm recognizing many of the learning opportunities that the students refer to in their notes (painting light and shadow instead of things, painting too much detail and losing form, etc.) For someone new to painting, I think it would be best read in conjunction with working on pictures. I would think this would create opportunities for someone to better understand the ideas presented in the book in practical application.

I'm finding many of the concepts are ones I learned during my training at The Atelier but Hawthorne came at them from a different angle. In several of the notes he tells the students not to draw and instead focus on making one correct color next to the other and from there the form will come, not to draw with line and fill it in. So his approach, first and foremost, seems to have been mass oriented rather than defining the shapes first.

The other idea I see repeated a lot is getting one color note correct next to another color note. At The Atelier I learned about this idea as setting up relationships between the values and colors. It's not so much about copying exactly the color or value you see in nature but how the value and color looks in relation to the other values and colors within your composition.

I also really like Hawthorne's insistence on students painting objects that by themselves might be considered boring or ugly (for example, a white plate). Instead of setting up a beautiful still life, and I'm paraphrasing here, he encourages the students to use their artist's eye to translate how the light and color describe the boring object in a beautiful way. I remember falling into this trap as a student. Instead of practicing how to see and translate what I was seeing with paint, I tried to make beautiful pictures with the objects themselves. My instructors tried to get this through to me. I caught on eventually. Composition, light, value, color, all of this can be practiced with objects that we aren't so precious about and are therefore more willing to take chances on and experiment, perhaps fail. Within that, learning happens. I get tripped up by this at times and need a reminder. Time to paint my ugly gardening shoes.

I think I will end up re-reading it several times. It seems to me that I'm mostly recognizing things I already know so I'd like to go through it again with an eye open for unfamiliar ideas. When it comes down to it, I think the book is worth the price (especially if you can get it used).

I'm not quite sure where it came from. The idea arrived, and delighted me with its silliness.

I pretty much followed my usual process on this one: drawing, reference, value studies, color studies, paint.

Line Drawing and Value Studies This time I drew on tracing paper and did minimal values with the pencil. Then I scanned it in and broadened the range of values with darker darks and a few lighter lights. I was initially thinking this would be a blue sky with puffy white clouds.mitzuk-flying-turtles-values

Reference Some of the reference I used for this project included shots of turtles from our local zoo (and our doctor's office of all places). I also purchased a few toy critters to hold up outside so I could see what the value relationships might look between the light shapes, dark shapes, and background.flying-reference


Color studies I did a few in gouache on 300 lb watercolor paper and a few digitally. Once I got the color idea down in front of me, I decided I didn't really like the blue sky and puffy white clouds. Those colors and lighting situation didn't have much drama or story to compliment the more dramatic view of the turtles soaring overhead. I decided to experiment with sunrise or sunset colors and lighting. Perhaps they're on their way for a mission, or returning from one?flying-turtles-color-studies

Paint Oil on oil primed linen stretched over a board with bracers on the back.

oil painting on primed linen of turtles flying with propellars coming out of the top of their shells and wearing aviator caps by christine mitzuk
Flying Turtles

Snap shot of oil painting in progress.
Snap shot of oil painting in progress.

Finding a balance between imagination and realism. After the lay-in (getting a first layer to start setting up value and color relationships) this time I decided to tackle the flesh tones in the face first before developing other areas. I'm trying for a dusk or night time look so I mixed a "flesh" color first and then added some different blues and maybe a little Raw Umber to shift the color to look like a moonlit situation. Trial and error, experimentation. I like what I found.

Blues I experimented with: Prussian Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue.

Artists for the Atelier: an Atelier Instructor Art Show and Fundraising Sale

pastel drawing of a pomegranate, dried calla lilies, and wheat by christine mitzuk
Persephone and Demeter

May 20, 21, 22 (In conjunction with The Atelier 2016 Student Show)

Enjoy and purchase prints, drawings, watercolors, oils, sculptures, etchings and prints of figurative, still life, landscape and imaginative artwork from our fundraising exhibit to help support The Atelier. The exhibit will be in several spaces, across and down the hall from The Atelier. 20% of all sales from the Instructor Show will be donated to The Atelier.

The Artists included in the exhibit are Judy Buckvold, Kim Monahan Dady, Ceile Harteib, David Ginsberg, Richard Lack, Brock Larson, Jeff Larson, Brian Lewis, Lynn Maderich, Christine Mitzuk, Dale Redpath, Pat Schu, Jim Shoop, Amber Tritabaugh, Laura Tundel and Cyd Wicker.

I will have many of my imaginative pieces, both prints and originals, for sale as well as several still life, watercolor works, and studies.

digital painting of a unicorn at the top of a hill on a winding path through the woods
Glimpse of the Unicorn

You may email (mail@theatelier.org) or call The Atelier at 612-362-8421 with questions.

1681 East Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55414
Off-street parking is available

2016 Show Hours:
Friday, May 20, 2:00 - 9:00 pm
Saturday, May 21, 12:00 - 8:00 pm
Sunday, May 22, 12:00 - 5:00 pm

Come join the fun!

Enrich your summer by learning and playing with art. I will be offering 3 classes and one workshop for the 2016 summer session. All classes are held at the Minneapolis based art school The Atelier Studio Program of Fine Art. It is located in the Fisk Building on the corner of East Hennepin Ave. and Stinson. Free off street parking is currently available.

Registration information is at the bottom of this blog post.

Gesture Class is Back!

gesture drawingGestural Figure Study
Gain a better understanding of gesture of the figure. This class will mesh The Atelier and Studio Arts figure study methods. We will be drawing from a live, nude model. 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 24, 4:15 - 6:45 PM
$200, 10 weeks


Illustration Class

digital painting of the astrological sign Aries by christine mitzuk to be used in Llewellyn's 2015 Astrological CalendarLet your imagination fly! 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, oil paint, or digital painting. Feel free to contact Christine with questions.

Starting Thursday, May 26, 7:00- 9:30
$170, 10 weeks


Portrait and Interior Class

Christine Mitzuk Portrait Class

Make your own magic! Learn to create portraits from Atelier trained artist Christine Mitzuk. Beginner and intermediate students welcome.

Students draw in charcoal and may progress to oil or pastels. Capturing the likeness is emphasized. Depending on what each student works on, color and techniques in oil and pastelare covered.

Starting TUESDAY, May 24, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
$200, 10 weeks

A Thursday class is also available, taught by Laura Tundel.
Starting THURSDAY, May 26, 7:00 - 9:30 PM
You are welcome to sign up for both (for $400) if you'd like more time to develop your portrait.

Illustration Workshop (1 week)

watercolor of hummingbirds singing in a barbershop quartet by Christine MitzukLet 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.

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

June 27 - July 1, 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
$200, 1 week

Register for classes one of three 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 course catalog PDF.
Option 3:  Contact me and I'll help you out,


yellow wolf eyes floating in pine boughs a part of red riding hood picture by christine mitzukWhile in art school I desperately wanted to learn how to make things look real. One of the instructors said to me on several occasions, and I'm paraphrasing here, "is it (the drawing) believable"?

Lately this idea has come to the foreground for me and I'm questioning what "believable" means to me.

Does believable mean that a thing looks like it has dimension, like it exists in space and has a logic to it? Does that logic have to be similar to how things work in the real world or can there be a logic within the world of the picture?

Or does believable mean that it is recognizable as a real person/place/thing?

Or that it seems "right", that the picture has a certain confidence and intent about it even if it's a more abstracted or highly stylized picture?

I can go after accuracy and work to make something look "right" or real but does it serve the picture? Is all that information working together to make a whole idea or story instead of accurate isolated pieces of information.

I think it's all these things but I get to choose how I wield the tools. Sounds like fun to me! I've been enjoying looking at how other artists do this. There are so many wonderful examples out in the world, here a but a few:

Le Chevalier aux Fleurs (The Knight of Flowers)  by Georges Rochegrosse https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Rochegrosse#/media/File:Le_Chevalier_aux_Fleurs_2560x1600.png

Bobby Chiu's art http://www.imaginismstudios.com/artists/Bobby%20Chiu

Bill Carman's art http://billcarman.blogspot.com/

Deb Kirkeeide's animal paintings http://debkirkeeide.com/collections/7886

Yoshida Hiroshi Avenue of Sugi trees https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hiroshi_Yoshida#/media/File:Hiroshi_Yoshida01a.jpg

John Harris' art http://www.alisoneldred.com/artistJohnHarris.html

various drawing pencils
If I only had that brand of pencil, then I could draw like so-and-so.

When starting out many artists hunt for the magic pencil. We read books on what the "masters" used. We ask artists more experienced than us what pencil, brush, plein air box, brand of paint they use. I think this is because we're looking for the "right way" to make a picture, either to make it technically sound and "archival" or with the hope that we'll find some formula to make awesome pictures every time. I bet there are a ton of reasons why we do this.

I've been on the hunt for the magic pencil and I've seen others do it. It seems fairly common behavior so maybe it's just part of the process of developing ourselves as artists.

I think that to some extent, the tools matter. I would say they matter if they fit the criteria for an individual's idea of "good" or "useful" (if that tool yields the effect you desire). One type of pencil might yield a darker mark more easily than another. One brand of oil paint will be stiffer than another, or one brand's Naples Yellow is more yellow than that of another brand's. We have to ask questions and try the materials for ourselves to develop our own magic.

I think the tools also matter if you're studying under a particular artist who has found what works for them, and you wish to learn to paint or draw like them. The teaching artist would be most familiar with those tools and so better able to share what they know. If you use what they use you're both speaking a common visual language.

In any case I think it's not just the tools, it's the learned and developed skill behind the tool. We try the tools out and discover for ourselves what we like and what we don't. We ask because we're learning. We're searching for answers that make sense to us. Through gathering information, practice, and trial and error we learn and grow.

Limited Edition prints of Bear Falls are now available in my Square Market Online Store. The image measures about 8.125" x 10.333". It's printed with Epson DuraBrite Ultra Ink on 8.5"x11", letter sized, Epson Premium Presentation Matte Paper. Shop now >>

Rushing wind. The calls of the birds hardly audible over the roaring falls.

oil painting of waterfalls with rock bear heads by christine mitzuk
Bear Falls

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!