Sketchbook+ Blog

Oil Portraiture, Part 2

Time to paint up from the grisaille! (see Oil Portraiture, Part 1). Thin layers of oil mixed with medium (I used Galkyd to speed up drying) were glazed on, color by color. If you were following along on my instagram or twitter, you know this part was agony for me. I’m really glad I didn’t give in to my urges to scrape the whole project and paint as I usually do (thickly with visible, moving brushstrokes) because I am so pleased with the luminosity this old master approach achieved! Hey, those guys knew what they were doing. And it’s supposed to get better with age.

Here’s how it looked as I completed each glaze, day by day. I was only able to work on it for 20 minutes or less a day because of my busy schedule these past two weeks. I’m calling it finished now or else I’d spend ages fidgeting with it, and I want to move on to my next experiment– painting a portrait with Zorn’s palette!


Oil Portraiture, Part 1

I learned to paint from impressionists, alla prima style (wet on wet), but I have always longed to capture the luminous look of classical portraits you see in the art museum. I started researching that older style of painting, working up slowly with glazes, and I started my first attempt last week.

This grisaille oil painting of my daughter is the underpainting.

Here’s the first pencil sketch, a study to work out the values. Then slowly building up the grisaille.

Once the grisaille underpainting is completely dry, I’ll begin Part 2, glazing color.




Two quickly painted watercolors where I allowed myself minimal drying time and painted with one oversized brush to get a very loose, painterly feel. The top one is a doodle of my daughter and her puppy-love, and the bottom one is a doodle of the raccoon who begged to be let onto my screened patio last night during the storm. (I said no, but it was hard. He was incredibly cute.)

Catalogue for Paper Dolls, the Superhero Outfits

Here are some superhero outfits re-imagined as pantsuits

The Crimson Avenger, Jill Caryle


The Invisible Woman, Sue Storm


She-Ra, Princess of Power


Wonder Woman, Diana Prince


Supergirl, Kara Zor-El




Misty Knight


Catalogue for Paper Dolls, Item 53

Merricat’s outfit at the end of Shirley Jackson’s “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.” A tablecloth Constance cut a hole in for her head, tied with the gold cord from the draperies, her mother’s old, brown shoes. We are so happy.



Fraidy Cat Garbage

Since I am running out of money in my art supply budget all about reusing trash to reduce my carbon footprint, I am experimenting with different materials for illustration. Today I tried

  1. Painting on a brown paper bag:


I love painting on neutral toned surfaces, so this was great. The paper is, naturally, incredibly thin and prone to wrinkles, but I like texture and would definitely consider using this to illustrate a future project, or just for doodling.


2. Painting on a gessoed wood panel:


I love this because you can really build up some texture with the gesso. The watercolor will not absorb into the gesso, however, so you really can’t glaze. Still, it’s a fun option.


3. Painting on gessoed paperboard (yesterday’s box of mac and cheese!):


Same thing with the gessoed wood panel– the watercolor just rests on top. It’s free and easy though, so I will definitely use it a lot in the future.

4. Painting on canvas


Very soft background. A teeny tiny bit of glazing is possible. And canvas can handle a lot of texture build-up. But this wasn’t my favorite, and I probably won’t try anything more with it for a while. (I have a LOT of canvases that can be gessoed over, which is why canvas falls under “garbage” here!)