Thursday, June 22, 2006

Inspiration Xs 100

I had the chance of a lifetime earlier this week to visit a stellar thoroughbred breeding farm in Lexington, Kentucky. The horses were beyond beautiful – they were quite literally muses, dancing in the sunlight. I came home with over 600 photographs, and even more fragments burned into my brain.

As I step through my new reference materials, I am falling in love all over again with all that the equine embodies – grace, spirit, heart, beauty. I will soon be painting these ideas and emotions, set into the framework of the bluegrass and rolling lines of fencerow.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotta figure out how to come down from my adrenaline rush, and get some sleep.

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings

Monday, June 05, 2006

New Beginnings

Well, I guess I couldn't get enough of my first blog (the one you are reading!), so I opted to start a second!

Actually, once I got to thinking (always a dangerous venture!), I realized that a blog dedicated to the progress of specific animal portraits would be beneficial. I already do something similar in the studio, with a paintings' log/sketch book. While I love the information that book has provided, I've outgrown it's usefulness in the last 6 months - I need more information on the paintings, both as they are developing, and after the fact.

So, I have started a secong blog:

As of today, current pet portraits and animal paintings, works in process, are still published on my website. As my website is also a work in process itself, that structure is subject to change. The wet paint page on my site will alwats contain current paintings on the easel (check today's date against that of the post). This new pet portraits and animal paintings blog will hold a small history of paintings and their evolution.

If you are interested in seeing a complete pet portraits or animal paintings portfolio (I fondly refer to them as 4-legged paintings), that is always available on my website.

Paintings for sale can also be viewed there, on the "Available for Purchase" page.

And, there is additional information on the whole commission process, too.

What I hope is that separating my blogs into two parts - lessons learned from the actual work - will help with my clarity. Also, structuring work in process on the new blog, with sequential entries in the form of my comments, will help restructure the actual process on any given work. (As I have 6 or more pieces in process at any given time, this will be especially useful to me!)

Please bear with me, as it may take a day or two to get some content built on that second blog page. I'm juggling this along with some other exhibition deadlines and three young children with major cases of spring fever.

As with all my websites (and my artwork), I invite your feedback. You have no idea how instrumental your thoughts are to steering my directions (or perhaps distractions) of tomorrow. Feel free to send emails (including any copyright-free photos you think I might find inspirational) to


Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings

Friday, June 02, 2006

Another Lesson

I had another lesson with portrait artist Vianna Szabo, yesterday. She continues to open my eyes and mind, and does so with such ease, it’s scary. Here are a few of the things I am still mulling over.

IMPORTANT – I am painting light, not objects. Seems pretty basic, but it’s a tough one to keep in the forefront of one’s mind when faced with the complexity of a carriage horse’s harness.

LIGHT: There are 5 kinds (as identified by John Singer Sargent) - not to be confused with the temperature of the light
1. Light
2. Shadow
3. Mid-Tone
4. Accents
5. Reflected Light
I had only consciously been thinking about the bottom three. I think for me, paying better attention to the subtle variations within the realms of light and shadow will add to the luminosity of the painting, and better compliment the depth of field.

MIXING COLOR/COLOR CHOICES: First attack the value, then identify hue and temperature, and then finally the intensity. When analyzing the above, it is incredibly helpful to isolate the spot in question. Vianna gave me a blank white index card with a small hole cut in the middle of it. Amazing how something that appears violet in front of me became bluer when viewer through the card. This helped me with mixing the right shade on my palette.

PAINTING APPROACH: Vianna attacks her paintings in sections, concentrating on the relationship of the areas in one part of her composition, but at the same time, consciously thinking about the light and how it’s bouncing through and around the objects. Conversely, I seem to work in batches, mixing one puddle of paint, and applying it across the surface. Modifying my approach – keeping more paint on my palette at any given time – allows me to mix gradations for more subtler value and temperature shifts. I’m anxious to put this idea to work on a larger canvas.
NOTE: Paint drying too quickly on your palette? Having to mix colors so much so when adding mediums, that you lose the density and interest of a looser combination? A trick I recently learned from a student of mine (thank you Laura!), was to puddle glazing medium overtop a blob of acrylic paint on my palette. The medium keeps the pigment from drying out, and mixtures can retain their “ribboned” quality easily.

After class, she invited me to stay and watch a segment of a Richard Schmit video. I was convinced that Vianna made things look easy, but then I watched him, and my mind was blown away.

My theory is that their eyes are trained so well in isolating a particular item, and they are so familiar with their pigments and materials, that everything falls together seemingly without effort. Practice makes darn close to perfect.

So I’m off for some practice myself.

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings