View Full Version : The Way I Paint...

01-22-2008, 07:25 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jan-2008/118892-Longing_6x10x72.jpg I was encouraged to start this thread, because some Wcers are interested in the technique that i use.. I hope this doesn't sound self serving starting this thread....Believe me...I know very Little!! there are so many people more knowlegable than i am here. So all i can share, is how i basically teach my workshops..which is.....i just show them how i paint..
Since I am self taught, I only know the way i do things and pointers that i have learned by looking at magazines, some books,(not much of a reader) but mainly i learned by seeing...copying....yes copying! i looked for my favorite artists( who all happened to be oil painters mostly) and looked at every inche of their paintings..every stroke, use of color, and anything else i could dissect.
I always start with the background first, and move right into my ceter of interest...what ever it may be..i don't draw, i place shapes, and use different values of these shapes to define.
I focus on where i want my lost edges.
i focus on cool colors and warm . I am not a color theorist!!
I focus on the feeling i want to portray!!
alot of what i do is basically correcting as i go...and making sure i keep the main center of interest the focal point.
I try to incorporate all the basics that most teachers teach. I.e color temp, value, shapes, lost and found edges.
I do alot of things that your "not suppose to do". But it works for me.
No preliminary drawing. (I'm not especially proud of this)
No thumbnails (nor this either)
Correct as i go along. (this one i like )
So i thought if anyone has any questions to ask, feel free, and i will answer what i can.....:heart:

Gail V
01-22-2008, 09:29 PM
Hi Alicia - thanks for posting this!!! You know, I am one of your biggest fans!! I would like to know what do you tell your students to keep in mind when creating the background..in other words, how to avoid the look of the cut out portrait on top of the background. Are there tips that you can provide to understand your technique in this regard? Love your work!!!

01-22-2008, 10:55 PM
I really like your technique and am happy you explained a bit of it.

01-22-2008, 11:12 PM
HI & how sweet of you to share. This is so gorgious.

So what do you as a reference? live? photo?
You are beautifully gifted...

David Patterson
01-23-2008, 12:03 AM
Thanks for the info Alicia...wonderful painting!!


01-23-2008, 12:16 AM
Alicia, thanks so much for taking the time to share, I so admire your work. I'm hopeful some of your loose, energetic style will rub off on me!


Donna A
01-23-2008, 01:44 AM
Absolutely lovely, exciting paintings on your web site, Alicia! Enjoyed your post so much! Thank you! Donna ;-}

01-23-2008, 08:27 AM
Hi Gail! The background is always started first by basically covering areas with a cool color, and using different directional strokes covering areas (not completly covered, just messing up the board really). From that i go right into placing (if its a portrait, which it almost alway is) the crown of the head, Not with line but shape,the crown of the head is placed by a big shape. This way i already have a start of the background. Everything is a part of everything! the background goes into the hair the hair into the forehead the forehead into the browse and eye sockets...so in the beginning you have lost alot of edges already.
Hi Maw-t. I almost exclusively work from photos, but i try to work from life as much as i can. to keep seeing things as they really are.:heart:

K Taylor-Green
01-23-2008, 08:50 AM
Alicia, this is a wonderful explanation of the way you work. Thanks for taking the time. I do a lot of animal work on suede but can't seem to get a human right on it. I want to blend too much, I guess!

maggie latham
01-23-2008, 08:53 AM
This is a lovely painting, and thank you for sharing your technique.:)

Kathryn Wilson
01-23-2008, 09:01 AM
A timely thread for me Alicia as I am struggling with my self portrait - so thanks for posting this!

01-23-2008, 10:49 AM
Alicia, I love your work. Thank you for sharing all this information. I have been afraid of drawing/painting people but you make it sound possible by remembering that it is shapes of color. When you say you don't "draw" the figure, it gives me hope that I could do it. When will you teach a workshop in Oregon?

01-23-2008, 05:50 PM
oH YES, I wondered, do you blend with finger or what.. I am trying to get more loose.. But when I start blending, seems I loose it. Do you let the paper show or is it fairly well covered? what type of support & pastels? Also how long does it take you to do a painting, such as the one above?

I love your work, and believe me I have analyzed it closely :) So this is great you are here!!!

01-23-2008, 06:38 PM
Shari< when i place the shapes on the board i relate everything to everything else..i guess they call it a plumb(sp)line. in other words i look and see where the ear goes in relationship to the nose, or i look at the negative space in beteween an arm and the waist and paint that instead..negative space painting i think is key .
MAW-T> i NEVER blend with my fingers or a stump. I just go over it with another color to correct and i don't worry about blending, i like to see the strokes of the pastel. Also if you do blend on suede matboard it really doesn't work to well and you loose contrast.The paper is pretty much covered but usually at the bottom of a painting i like to let some show through.
I paint fairly fast. iI think the above painting took about 3 or 4 hours, and then i let it sit for a while and tweak it here and there, which could be a couple minutes or sometimes a half hour maybe..a typical 16x20 portrait would take about one and half to 2 hours.. a big painting for example 32x40 could take up to 8 hours.
I use suede mattboard and nu-pastels on the face , and soft ones on clothes and background.:heart: :heart:

01-23-2008, 07:27 PM
Thank you so much for sharing this! The paintings on your site are gorgeous! Your style is magnificient and am interested in how you go about your works as they come out with a natural look.

nana b
01-23-2008, 10:52 PM
Alicia, I like the way you paint! Wished I could do it! Thanks for explaining the general way you work:wave:


01-23-2008, 11:35 PM

I have a question. I love your work, it is so beautiful. I belive you said you use sueded matboard, am I right? I have been told by several teachers that this is not archival. How do you deal with that?

01-24-2008, 08:16 AM
Shari_ suede mattboard is acid free, it is used to matt paintings, for framing.It is archival. maybe they are thinking of something else.:D

Gail V
01-24-2008, 08:31 AM
When you say you use a "plumb" line - are you using the "sight size" method, and you are using a "string" for measuring? I have always been meaning to try this. Thanks again for posting your tips!!

01-24-2008, 08:32 AM
Thank you so much for taking time to start this thread and explaining your technique. It is just amazing. The clothing in your artwork sometimes reminds me of crumpled tissue paper. Can you elaborate on how you achieve that look?

You mention suede matboard. Do you use different colors or is their one you prefer?

Dot Hoffman
01-24-2008, 08:56 AM
Alicia, your work is breathtaking. Thank you for sharing how you do it. We have so much to learn from you.

01-24-2008, 10:06 AM
Gail - I'm not sure what "sight size" means exactly, :o but i think it means just going by your eyes:confused: so if thats what it means..thats what i do. I don't use a string.
Anneprobst- I think i get that "tissue paper look" from the board, and also because i don't do any blending..As far as color of the board, i like a warm middle value, usually either Tumbleweed, or sand or a beige...not too dark and not to light...I am going to try a warm rosy color next...or look for something like a light burnt sienna and see how that works..:heart:

01-24-2008, 10:12 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/24-Jan-2008/118892-IMG_0925.JPG Here is an example of the clothes.. no blending is done. this is done with Schmienkes...Hope the cleavage doesn't offend anyone:eek:

01-24-2008, 11:18 AM
Thanks so much for the quick answers! Oh the close up is fAABULOUS...
Me thinks you have the "touch". I;VE nEVER TRIED THOSE PASTELS.. JUST ORDERED uNISON sorry caps. Sure wish I was close enough to take a class from you... Keep up the beautiful work:clap:

01-24-2008, 01:55 PM
The close up is just amazing. What a beautiful work!!!!

Gail V
01-24-2008, 02:17 PM
Yes, thank you for all your help and answers!! I have never attempted "sight size" drawing, but from what I understand you set up a vertical easel (no slanting at all.....) and then you stand at a specific spot when viewing the reference and the drawing....holding up a string perfectly horizontal to connect what you see to the drawing, and then walk back up to the drawing and make reference marks in order to get correct alignment/proportions....I believe this is the "plumb" line to get things in order. Certainly there is more to it than what I wrote, but it just sounds like a painstakingly long process!!! You obviously wouldn't have to do this!!!

Absolutely love the closeup!!!

01-24-2008, 03:34 PM
Alicia - you didn't answer the question about whether you would be doing any workshops in Oregon or Washington.

01-24-2008, 06:22 PM
Well Harriett......My husband and i went to Seattle last November and we loved it! I've also been to Spokane and Couer D'alane (sp} and loved those places too...i suppose anywhere in oregon would be great too!! Maybe we could work something out....if we could get a group together somewhere..maybe........;) :cool:

01-25-2008, 11:09 AM

I am really appreciative how you openly share your knowledge and love your beautiful loose style. I have two questions for you:

1. I am a geek so I draw using a lot of my left brain - logically. I would really like to understand the process of how you portray a feeling?

2. I do love pastels and paint from dark to light. How do you manage to correct as you go using a soft pastel like Schmincke?

thanks so much

01-25-2008, 07:26 PM
Hi Galdor...I see subjects all the time in my daily life that move me..whether these are people at a bus stop or in a grocery store or a waitress or anyway..i know what it is about them that moves me..it is something in their expression, or their eyes...i see it and i remember it..i feel it as i'm painting it....for example lately i've been moved to paint someone sad and hard living..a man...i get refernce of someone..taking their photo, and work from that..I could care less if it looks like them..all i want is to show that sadness and story of a hard life...i haven't come accross it yet but i will...
as far as correcting as you go along you just go over the other color and not worry about making it perfect..does that make sense????:confused:

01-25-2008, 08:23 PM
Thanks Alicia,

As far as correcting as you go, I was just wondering how you prevent your colors from getting dirty and running out of paper tooth.

If you ever give a workshop close to Colorado let me know.


Tracy Lang
01-25-2008, 08:42 PM
Thanks so much for this thread, Alicia! Like others in this forum, I so appreciate you taking the time and effort to share your wonderful process. I've been inspired to paint/study a copy of a painting by Ramon Kelly...it's amazing how much I am "seeing" by doing this.


PS. Rated 5 *****'s

01-25-2008, 11:02 PM
Galdor..since i paint on suede mattboard there isn't any tooth. it is just a tra

velvety molded surface..when you put a color on top of another color in pastels it doesn.t seem to get muddy.the color on top is what shows..
Tracy!! i copied RAmom Kellys work all the time when i first started..he was my hero!! i learned a ton from studying his work..keep it up!!

01-25-2008, 11:57 PM
How does Portland, Oregon sound to you? :)

01-27-2008, 11:56 AM
I tell you what..if anyone can get a group of people together in one of these areas..I.e,,oregon,,colorado..washington ..texas......wherever,,,,and everyone pitches in for a plane ticket for me...i'll come....so.....let me know

01-28-2008, 04:13 PM
Alicia, bought some suede matboard and love the feel. You mentioned you use Nupastels on the face. Just the face? The strands of hair on all of your website portraits is so light and airy. Is that Nupastels?

Zara 26
01-28-2008, 04:22 PM
i really love your work Alicia and wish to be like you in the future.

can you tell me what brand of pastels are you using ?

01-28-2008, 05:51 PM
wowie zowie... who would NOT want to paint like you?? just terrific...

01-28-2008, 07:39 PM
HI Anne..i start out with nu-pastels on the hair but mostly use softies unless its a small painting..it really is a mix of both..with the real softies you have to go very light touch on the paper,,because it really picks up the pigment..
Hi Zara I USE nupastels on the face and softies elsewhere..i never use softies on the skin or face it goes on too strong..
Thanks everyone for your great questions and comments:heart: :heart:

02-25-2008, 03:06 PM
Alicia, Your work is lovely. What color suede mattboard do you use?

02-28-2008, 09:22 AM
Hi Buttonknows...I use a neutral colored board..mostly "tumbleweed" i think it is made by Crescent...or Bainbridge...but any warm neutral color will do as long as its not too dark or too light..:thumbsup:

02-28-2008, 09:34 AM
Great thanks!

02-29-2008, 09:34 AM

Thanks so much, Alicia, for the great lesson!
I love the delicate texture of your work and understand how you do thatn now, so much better!:heart:
You paintings have a very soft way of expressing deep feelings!
I just love looking at the woman in the apron and thinking about what she is thinking about and how the soft background and her posture against the side is so real. You render hair so wonderfully.:heart: