Process: Tom & Laura’s Wedding Portrait Painting

I thought it might be fun for you to see the stages of creating this modern fairytale portrait painting. I scheduled about a month, at two days per week, to work on this 16″ x 32″ acrylic painting on canvas. To learn more about commissioning a painting, click here. So without further ado:

Stage 1: Drawing using graphite and then Pitt artist pen.

Stage 2: Grisaille in Chromium Oxide Green.

Stage 3: Colour wash. Quinacridone Red, Pthalo Green and Green Gold.

Stage 4: Establish background buildings and sky.

Stage 5: Working on everything but negative space objects.

Stage 6 & 7: Work on the car.

Stage 8: Paint the figures and adjust the background to create proper recession and focus. DONE!

To see more of my portraits click here.

To learn more about commissioning a painting, click here.

Reading: PANTONE The 20th Century in Color

I picked up this book at my local library on the advice of a friend, and it is just a fantastic read, a must have reference for anyone interested in creating art evoking certain historical periods, or anyone interested in predicting future trends in colour preferences.

Essentially, Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker take the reader on a grand tour of 20th century western history exploring the influence of politics, social changes, science, art, design and fashion on colour preferences from decade to decade.

From the utilitarian and action oriented colours of war time decades, the soft neutrals of recessions and upbeat pastels of post war returns to stability and optimism, PANTONE seeks to not just show the what and how of colour preference, but also the why, in as much as they are able in the lushly illustrated overviews of the key movements within each decade.

Although I am not sure I would purchase the book outright, I will definitely keep it on my list for future reference. Usually if I check something out more than 3 times in a year I will consider buying it, because apparently I need to have it.

Here is a link to the PANTONE website:

Fear of Rejection – Lessons from Jia Jiang

I watched this (and highly recommend you do as well),

shortly after the new year, but it took me half a year to act on it. I realized that I was hanging too much of my dreams of future happiness on each application, proposal and submission I was sending out in to the world, and then disproportionally thrown off course by very rejection letter I got. So much so that I was finding every reason not to respond to this call or that, knowing how much time I would spend crafting each and how floored I would be if it was turned down.

Jiang’s talk convinced me I should be taking a more light hearted approach to the process, and I decided to make it my mission to collect 100 rejections per year. Rather than base my perception of success on how many of my submissions are approved, I will consider it a successful year if I have collected 100 rejections in that year.

What if one is approved, or more then one? Well, I suppose I will have to send out submissions until I have 100 rejections. Since I have had a slow start to this year, I now need to send out at least 4 per week for the rest of the year to reach my goal of 100 for a successful year.

What is your strategy for dealing with rejection?

Process: Paintings are grown, not executed.

I was posting some progress images of a wedding portrait I am currently working on to my Facebook page, One Life Fine Art (if you are on Facebook, make sure to like and follow me there), and it occurred to me suddenly that the person for whom I am making the painting could actually be terrified by what they were seeing!

The first phase was the line drawing, the second, a grisaille in chromium oxide green, and the third was the layer where I work out my major colour story (in this case a series of full strength washes of pthalo green, green gold and Quinacridone red/violet mix).

On top of that I will start to refine the forms and paint in details, balancing lights, darks and colour as I go along. To me this seems natural, but to someone who has never seen a painting grow from sketch to finish, they might have assumed the process was something like paint by numbers or colouring books, where each clearly delineated area has its individual colour mixed and applied from left to right, in one go.

I suppose some artists work like that, but my paintings are more like a living thing, layers upon layers built up from the back to the front of the painting (or canvas to picture plane), with each layer growing from the layer beneath.

The major difference is in how preplanned the painting is. Am I merely executing something which already exists fully realized in my head, or am I working with the idea to create something unique to itself?

Working left to right, filling in areas in a planned and orderly fashion is certainly efficient, but doesn’t allow me to take advantage of coincidence or discovery. Knowing that I can’t possibly anticipate every eventuality in the painting, I would rather give myself the opportunity to stop earlier than planned or change things to capitalize on coincidences as they appear. I couldn’t see these coincidences and happy accidents if I were focussing on the orderly filling of areas of colour instead of an organic approach to the image.

So, should you be out there watching my paintings take shape and feel you are on a bit of a rollercoaster ride in terms of progress, never fear, we will arrive safely. You will just have to have a little faith in the process and trust your pilot. In the mean time, sit back and enjoy the ride!

Reading: Art Visionaries by Mark Getlein & Annabel Howard

A good primer on some of the major artist’s of our times, and their ideas and innovations.

It is an easy read, with a democratic 3-4 pages dedicated to each artist, even ones with incredibly long and illustrious careers like Picasso. Each artist is covered with a portrait, a timeline, a page condensing key points about their biography, career and innovations, and 3 or 4 representative images of work.

I would recommend this book to beginners interested in getting a crash course in art since the beginning of the modernist period. However, even as an artist familiar with the western canon and art since the beginning of the modern period, I found fresh insights on the work of familiar artists.

One critique of this book would be that despite it’s recent publication (2016) the youngest artists profiled are Damien Hirst and Olafur Eliasson. Could it be that titles for Art Visionary have yet to be settled for the artists of Generation X and beyond?



Okay, I know I have been away since March 13th, and if you have posted a legit comment on a post since then, I am genuinely sorry that it will not be read or posted, however 2800 pieces of spam are a little much to expect someone to sift through in order to find the one nugget of authentic human contact in my inbox. I skimmed the posts as I marked them spam, but for the most part they were neither specific nor relevant to this blog.

So, if you would like to have your post actually read and responded to, PLEASE make sure that it is specific and relevant, and is very obviously so. There are so many generic spam posts that are clearly copy and pastes, saying how wonderful this site or post is,  or asking general questions related to the technical side of blogging… well you see what I am saying, praise is only meaningful if its authentic right?

Anyhow, I am still here, still checking in, and I do hope that one day I will be skimming my inbox and actually see a legit post from one of you out there. So lets talk!

Sunflower Project Update: Paintings 13 – 18

Sunflower Seed #13
Acrylic, 5 x 7
by Debbie.lee Miszaniec
Sunflower Seed #14
Acrylic, 5 x 7
by Debbie.lee Miszaniec
Sunflower Seed #15
Acrylic, 5 x 7
by Debbie.lee Miszaniec
Sunflower Seed #16
Acrylic, 5 x 7
by Debbie.lee Miszaniec
Sunflower Seed #17
Acrylic, 5 x 7
by Debbie.lee Miszaniec
Sunflower Seed #18
Acrylic, 5 x 7
by Debbie.lee Miszaniec

These 6 sunflower seed paintings, exploring a purple/yellow palette and stripes, have been brought to you by Kamla Hari McGonigal, who donated the funds for the materials for these six paintings. The first four will be going out to Carol Borschneck, Estelle Bungay, Jazmin Tyson and Katia Goussous (in that order) later this week. Sunflower Seed Paintings #17 & #18 are still looking for a home. Go here to learn about the project and sign up to receive one free, or donate to ensure we keep this project going!

The Multiple Charms of Working in Batches

Work In Batches:

I was painting alongside a friend, and she asked what she should do while waiting for the paint to dry on her current piece. I suggested she start a second piece while waiting for the first piece to dry.

This is a strategy I frequently use in the studio to get as much productivity as I can out of that precious time. I dont just start one piece, I start a group of pieces, usually 3 to 6, at once, all using the same process. While I am waiting for one piece to dry, I can work on the next one.

If it is acrylic I am working with that day (like the sunflower seed paintings), by the time I have brought the last one in the group through to the point where it is unworkable and needs to dry, the first one is ready to go again.

If I am working with oil (such as the Western Series), with its longer dry times, it is even more important to work in multiples. I hardly want to wait three days or better between sessions! With that longer dry time, though, I tend to have more time to find solutions to problems I have come up against in a given piece. I can be working on possible solutions to the previous piece subconciously while physically working on the current piece.

If you are working this way on location, like my friend, don’t forget to bring a way to transport all those wet paintings back to the studio safely!