Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Very Serious Still Life

I received a number of inquiries in the last few days about where I find my inspirations and how I keep going. Besides in all the faces and personalities I get to profile as part of the Painting a Dog a Day project and my daily (strong) dose of coffee, I find them everywhere around me.

  • The golden maple leaves dancing right outside my kitchen window.

  • My kids' first smile each day (which comes hopefully before their first tear).

  • The sound of a dear friend's voice on the phone.

  • The way Finnigan's nubbin of a tail glides underneath his skin.

  • The purr of my black cat, not just the sound, but the feel of it against my chest.

  • The smell of a wet painting.

I'm sure we all have triggers that keep us going - those are just a few. I make sure I am surrounded by handfuls of them, all the time. And for those days when it's tough to get into the studio, I've found a couple of no fail motivators:

  • The Nutcracker soundtrack, no matter the season.

  • And The Barber of Seville (kill the rabbit..... kill the rabbit....) The right music can almost always get the job done!

  • Browsing through Julian Merrow-Smith's website ( and dreaming of being able to one day paint like him.

  • A visit to our local yarn shop, where I can simply sit amongst the rows of colored wools.
    The smell of freshly baked brownies or cookies.

  • A brisk walk around the neighborhood, following Finn's nubbin and prance, breathing in the air, listening to the birds/crickets/frogs/silence (when snow is freshly falling)

Here's a bonus painting - one I couldn't help but do. My latest inspiration, you might say.

Yesterday I looked up from the easel and spied a row of puppets carefully lined up by one of my kids, perfectly centered in an unexpected shaft of sunlight. They were brilliantly colored and terribly humorous when visualized as still life objects. It was way more fun than painting pitchers and creamers and ghourds (sorry, Vianna, if you are reading this!!). This guy is the first of a number of lighthearted studies I'll do in the weeks to come - painting something saturated in humor and color was a great diversion!

So I give you "ARGH!! (Puppet #1)," 8" square (larger than life), acrylic on canvasboard, $180. Imagine this guy framed up and hung in a cubicle/office. Or in a child's room. Or even hung overtop a mirror. He will definately brighten up a special corner somewhere. Inquiries to .

Thanks, as always, for looking.
And for sharing these paintings with your friends and family,
Be back tomorrow!

Kimberly Kelly Santini
distinctive pet portraits
& 4-legged paintings
come. sit. stay.
enjoy the art.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Another Human Portrait

Here is last night's class efforts, "Liesel," a 10" x 20" canvasboard of a young woman.

While the painting itself is not a strict likeness of our model, I am very happy with the results for the following reasons:

I captured a beautiful idea of the light and shadow. I paid careful attention to the light, and it's temperature as it travelled across the shape of the face. The color actually cools as it hits boney planes of the face - I never noticed this before.

I also concentrated on my edge work, working hard to eliminate strong lines and gestural brushwork. If you compare this piece to Jerry's portrait from last week, you'll see that it's far softer and less linear in style.

And I really had fun with her hair. Not strictly black, it had areas of orange and blue to it. And that piece underneath her cheek that reflected her skin tone.

You can purchase this painting (which is only visible here on my studio blog, as it isn't animal or pet portrait related) for $349 plus any applicable Michigan sales tax and shipping costs (estimated to be about $15 for within the US).

All inquiries can come to me at

I'm getting the hang of this thing, though. And surprised at how much fun it has been, too! Think I might try to rope one of my kids into sitting for me over the upcoming long weekend......


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I've been working hard, behind the scenes here, taking another course with Vianna Szabo (, refining my painters eye. This latest course, about 1/2 way completed, has involved some intensive still life paintings, graduating into portraiture from a live model.

Here are the paintings I've completed to date. I will not be offering them for sale through my website, simply because they are not animal related. But if you are interested in purchasing one of the class paintings, please drop me a line - .

"White Still Life," 8" square, acrylic on canvasboard, $180. This was the first assignment, a still life setup that was entirely white. The lesson was to paint all the shades of white. I had a difficult time - first off, because I couldn't buy into the inanimate objects, and then secondly, with the lack of contrast. I ended up sitting crosslegged on the floor, looking up at the table, sketching the still life with conte pencil, when I came upon this composition. Inquiries to .

"White Pitcher," 16" x 20", acrylic on canvasboard, "$399. Our second assignment included a variety of white items set against darker grounds. I was still trying to find a means of connecting with the inanimate items, when my eye fell in love with the pattern when the setup was viewed from the far corner. I used artistic license, and really played with the colors, working on balancing my values so that the objects read properly, but using color saturations straight from my head.

"November Still Life," 11" x 14", acrylic on canvasboard, $279. This third assignment was a still life setup saturated with intense hues. The trick was to paint not just the light, but the color reflections from each object. I concentrated on the use of edges and modelling the objects with my brushwork.

"Jerry," 11" x 14", acrylic portrait on canvasboard, $279. I am especially pleased with Jerry's sitting. This painting is a sincere likeness, but it also carries other elements of maturity - the color temperatures model the form in many places (instead of value changes), the brushwork caresses the shapes, and I employed a number of different types of edgework and color saturation to help accent my focal point.

Next week we get to paint a woman, supposedly dramatically costumed in complimentary, bold colors. I am confidant I will come home even richer in knowledge, with a few more miles under my brushes.

Stay tuned!