walk in the park 9″ x 12″

walk in the parkYesterday’s painting with photo used, my set up in the studio, and stages of the painting.

Palette: the usual (cad. yel. lt., cad. red verm., quin. mag., ultra blue, sevres blue, burnt umber, tit. zn. white)

Total time: about 1 1/4 hr.










walk in the park

prairie and tree at dusk 6″ x 6″

old oak

Based on a photo of a single tree (not sure what kind) in the middle of the prairie (see photo below).  The sky is from my imagination.    The same palette as yesterday was used.  We had a glorious afternoon hiking in this preserve last weekend : )


afternoon sail 6″ x 6″

afternoon sailoil on archival panel

© Anita C. Miller 2013

I’m continuing to experiment with color (a different palette) and brushes.  Palette used: cadmium yellow light, cadmium red vermillion, quinacridone magenta, ultramarine blue, sevres blue and zinc titanium white.  Painted alla prima in about 45 minutes.   The brushes used are my new Silver Bristlon (brights) which I am loving.

Also, before starting the painting, I brushed a thin warm color over the entire panel, then wiped most of it off.  This toned the surface so that I wasn’t painting on white.  I left some of this color show through on the sails and the right side of the hull.

Windward Coast

I used Gamblin’s Portland greys (light, medium and dark) and Chromatic Black.  The Ampersand gesso board is sometimes lightly brushed with Gamsol solvent before starting the painting.  I’m using fine sable hair brushes (and sometimes my fingers) for these little paintings.

"Windward Coast", 6" x 6", oil on board, © Anita C. Miller
“Windward Coast”, 8″ x 8″, oil on board, © Anita C. Miller

Trail To The Summit

This little monochrome painting from yesterday is based on an Oahu hike my husband and I took this past winter.  I’ve included the reference photo this time and the link to my previous post on this hike where you can see the summit views.

"Trail To The Summit", 8" x 10", oil  © Anita C. Miller
“Trail To The Summit”, 8″ x 10″, oil on board   © Anita C. Miller

I could have kept working on the painting, but decided I liked the ambiguity and stopped.  No clear view of the trail ahead.

my husband leading the way.  I had the figure in the painting initially, but then took him out.
My husband leading the way. I had the figure in the painting initially, but then took him out.


behind the scenes — stretching a canvas

I know painters who have painted many years and have never stretched a canvas.  That’s fine… but, there are several reasons why I do it and thought you might like to see how easy it is.  If you can wrap a package you can do this!

Here’s the canvas rolled out on the studio floor.  (I bought 3 yards of unprimed 60″ wide canvas at the art store.)


Next, I place the stretcher bars face down on top.  The photo makes it look like a square, but the actual size is 4′ x 5′


I use this electric staple gun by Bostitch and it works great.  You can find one at your local hardware store.


Next staple the canvas in the middle of each side.  Do not pull tightly… pull just enough that there are no wrinkles.  Also, make sure that the sides of the stretcher bars are running parallel to the weave of the canvas before stapling.


Proceed to staple once every 4 inches or so starting at the middle staple on each side and going to the corners.


Fold the cloth at the corners like you would wrap a present and staple (I usually put a few extra staples at the corners.


Now the canvas is ready for gesso.


Gesso is used to create a barrier between the canvas and the oil paint.  If this is not done, the oils in the paint will eventually rot the canvas.  The first coat of gesso is thinned with water to a cream like consistency.


Now brush the thinned gesso onto the canvas using a large brush.  Make sure it goes into the weave and brush in all directions.

*** Most important****– start from the center of the canvas and work out.  The canvas starts to shrink and pucker when it gets wet.  See… you didn’t have to pull the canvas tight at the start because it will “shrink wrap” itself when it gets wet (like a pair of jeans that haven’t been pre-shrunk).


I usually do a cross pattern like below and then fill in the remainder diagonally  ie. upper right, then lower left, etc.


So here it is with the first coat finished.  It’s tight with no wrinkles.  Two more coats (not diluted) will be brushed on to complete the gessoing.  Let each coat thoroughly dry (about 24 hours) between coats.  It’s next to the canvas I worked on last week (which is unfinished).

Oh, and the reason I go through all this is to have the flexibility of getting the exact size canvas I want.  Maybe I want a 30″ x 45″ or 36″ x 54″ or 40″ x 50″ canvas… these are not standard and the art store doesn’t have these.  But they do sell stretcher bars in numerous sizes.


silver serenity

(click on photos to see large)

view from Diamondhead
we hiked up the trail to the top of  Diamondhead –the view was so worth it
Hanauma Bay snorkelers
Hanauma Bay snorkelers
green sea turtle
green sea turtle coming ashore at Hanauma Bay

This beautiful creature inspired my most recent painting.  We got to see him up close

before an area was roped off to keep people away.


silver light off Waikiki Beach
silver light off Waikiki Beach

~ see you next year!

detail of a painting in progress © Anita C. Miller

Dear fellow bloggers, I will be taking the rest of the year off from blogging.  See you in 2013!  I wish everyone a very happy holiday season.

Best wishes!


endings and beginnings

“Fall Woods”, 24″ x 30″, oil on canvas, © Anita C. Miller

Whenever I finish a painting, I often play around with it to get ideas for new paintings.

I take pictures of it, upload them on my Mac and fool around in iPhoto.

I crop, flip and change color and contrast, etc.  So below are some “sketches”

for possible future paintings all based on “Fall Woods” above.

flipped image and cropped
played with color; misty feeling, reminds me of Pacific Northwest forests
lots of sky; color less saturated; feels like spring a bit to me

All images © Anita C. Miller

Two Versions of Fall

“Fall” (version 1), oil on board, 6″ x 6″, © Anita C. Miller

This version was painted over and ended up as the following (which I think I also painted over).

I will use them as studies for a larger piece, perhaps.

“Fall” (version 2), 6″ x 6″, oil on board, © Anita C. Miller