Monthly Archives: April 2013

My paintings of “landscapes” showing different perspective

Slide14 It is always a pleasure to paint buildings. Sometimes I paint them from the front, but I prefer to come in on an angle that leads your eye into the picture. This adds dimension which is an interesting aspect to painting something showing depth on a flat plane.

Slide15Slide17I love the detail and the textures in the plant life, and this year I think I have figured out how to portray stucco walls. I am now learning that purple in the shadows helps keep the painting look more vibrant than using blacks and grays to add the shadows.

Pieces here are mostly from this year in San Diego so I am learning about painting the plants along with the palm trees. The artists I paint with usually tease me that I always put in palm trees, well, we don’t grow those in Ohio!

I also enjoy developing strong compositions. I want the viewer to look at the features I put in the buildings and arches and windows, even the colors and the sidewalks. Diagonals and curves help create the illusion that you are able to go into a painting.

Slide16 Often these look a bit whimsical because they are not photographic, they are painted visions of real buildings and restaurants!

If you check them all out, I always go for the texture and patterns.

Go out and paint and enjoy yourself.

Gracious Skies, they are not always blue!

skycolors Photos 237

Whether taking weather and clouds or painting them, color can make your day. The moods these photos create are breath-taking. Some of them are in my “Why Is the Sky Blue?” book. But I take these photos to have referrals when painting and wanting to create a different mood. The coolness of the blues and gray tones and the warmth of the yellows and brilliant violets and pinks are what makes the difference.

These two photos below are from the same place (Del Mar, CA) but I framed one with pine needles. Both relay an interesting mood, but the waves are stunning and add texture with the reflection of the sunset in the water. In the second one, the people in the foreground, make the “story” more human. Choose to try both of these techniques when taking pictures or painting a skyscape.


I go outside about 10-15 minutes before sunset when there are clouds in the sky. Then I continue to take photos every few minutes (change the angle of the direction of the clouds if you are not taking the silhouetted trees). The clouds change so quickly, even during the day (when I shoot them out of the window of my car!).

Their magnificence is mind-blowing, no? Makes what is going on around the world more tolerable for me!


Fun tip for parents who like to paint (especially during National painting Week.)

My grand-daughter asked me to paint a four season tree on her bedroom wall and I created it. Then I realized that it was the perfect growth chart.


So every year now, we take a picture of her and her sister in front of this wall and her special tree.

Here is June 9, 2013, she just had a huge growth spirt!brigit1


National Painting week: here’s my “All By Myself” poem

“All By Myself” poem by Penni Rubin
I  painted a picture the other day with big lines and splashy blue swirls. I showed my mom and she said, “Oh my, It’s a picture of a pretty girl.”

Well I thought I painted a rocket ship, shooting to the moon like it should! But my mom said it was a “pretty girl” I guess I’m not too good.

I glued the silliest puppet-clown face and showed it to my dad. He said the “eyes were crooked and it was missing it’s mouth!” I guess he thought it was bad.

I made a big elephant out of clay and showed my older brother. He yelled “Get that glob out of my room!” I won’t make him another.

I drew a picture of me feeling sad, my sister giggled and laughed all day.” She said, “Look at the ugly monster you made!” that’s what I heard her say.

But when I showed my teacher all of my work she said- “My what a talent you’ve got! I see the big lines and the splashy blue swirls. You must’ve thought about these a lot!”

“I see rick-rack and long curly red yarn, and fabric and clay from the shelf!” She described what I did and it felt so good I said proudly… “I made ‘em all by myself!”

Brigit in Boots  IMG_0085 (2)

Same tree, same granddaughter! My how time flies!

Perspective made easy

I have heard many people try to explain this but being a visual person, I had to see it in actuality. So I am putting photos near the concepts. As you can see, knowing where your horizon line is important. If you are looking up, all the lines will be going up.

Slide1 When looking directly, they go above and below the line. I find when out painting, taking a photo makes everything smaller so you can see that the street line will be at an angle, which makes it below the horizon line.

perspective1On a photo you will be able to see all of this. You need to just visualize the triangles I am providing you with below for each concept (looking up, across and down).


Look at buildings and see architectural features, such as  one above that shows bricks seemingly at different angles. Your eye knows that they are straight and even, but in the photo you can see this concept in action.

TIP: Take a piece of string along and place one end on your paper and stretch it to where you see that your focal point should be. Hold the other end there and swing it throughout your piece checking the angles.

perspectivergNow, for two point perspective, you need to do the same thing on both planes of buildings. One side of the building will go to the left focal point and the other to the right. Here is where a ruler or piece of string will help you see where the lines should fall. This photo is looking up at a corner.

The tricky part of doing perspective is when there are dormers or a porch roof that bumps out. You need to figure out which plane the sides are on and then follow the focal point for that one.

Slide4Looking straight into something, the focal point is deep into the picture. Note how the arches get smaller and smaller. That is the key to understanding that your brain is working against your eye and then your brain tells your hand to move and paint. Mixed messages???

Here’s a challenge. Look at these photos and find the horizon line, there is one tricky one in here. Good Luck!


Let me know if this is helpful, because most painters I watch, forget that the window ledges need to be correct or your building/house will not look right. Even I have to do this as I have noticed (too late sometimes) that I will have a wall or ledge incorrect.

Slide7  Look at the trees and you can understand the concept that things get closer together (again, even when the trees are each five feet apart, they “show” differently when in perspective.


Click on any of these photo collages to enlarge them, then press the arrow key to go back.

“Plein Air” painting is so rewarding – today’s issue was depth

pleinairpaintouToday we (the San Diego Watercolor Society) painted at Campland, in San Diego, CA. The weather was sunny and a bit breezy, so our paints dried fast (no need for a hair dryer today). If you have never painted outside in the fresh air with the changing light (and weather), you have been missing a great opportunity to challenge your skills. You just need a chair and your paints, an easel is helpful and bring water and something to hold it to clean your brushes. (We all look like bag ladies and gentlemen when we arrive, but you can see we all get down and work!)

Our Wednesday group has both beginners and professionals. We have a critique after we paint for a few hours. One can learn so much from listening to this, as it covers both good things and things that need to be corrected. It is a little lesson in painting that is highly helpful because you might have the same problem doing another piece sometime in the future.

I always told my students, “Make all the mistakes you can so I know what you need to learn”. Today we had an issue with showing depth. Our job as artists is to let the viewer think that the flat piece of paper has space. Some things need to be smaller and duller in the background to make this happen. Several of the artists made the palm trees all the same green, the same size, and on the same plane.

In order to show depth, one must paint the trees in front, brighter & yellower, with shadows, plus remember the trunk needs to be thicker too. Also, the size of the shape of the tree & the leaves (or fronds) need to be painted in more detail if they come forward, and they need to be bigger. I see many people use the same brush strokes or dots for leaves never considering that the leaves have to be shown to come forward and backwards. They should not be all the same strokes or size. So, the trees farther back need to be washed out (use red or even a purpley glaze to dull the color so they recede) and use less detail in the leaves toward the back. At a workshop recently, the leader said all you need is to paint the shape of the tree and detail the edges a bit to relay the message “I am a tree!”pleinairpaint

TIP: Mix your own green. Blue and yellow make GREEN, add a purple and get a dull green. Add gold and get a sage green, ochre makes a good green when adding blue or a turquiose also. A wash with red, it’s complementary color also will enhance the depth. Try not to use black for shadows, remember I am the one that says “No painting is done until you add the purple shadows.”

The biggest mistake I see is that new artists do is to use pthalo green by itself. There is NOTHING in nature that shocking green, it is ONLY for mixing.

pleinairpainto pleinairpaintout pleinairpaintoutsHere is our group at Pacific Beach, Old Town and Coronado. We do not always have the same people attending but some people are always there and Codie, our leader, works hard to find us interesting places to paint each week.

To me what is amazing, is that we all start out with white paper and create these stunning, and individual pieces of artwork.

COLOR: learn the rules & reap the benefits!


Let's talk COLOR. There are basic rules on how to use this effectively.

Primary colors (RED, YELLOW, BLUE) cannot be mixed in paint, but together when mixed you create many other colors. In photography, knowing which colors enhance the others, will help you make choices that will excite your viewers!

The pictures below are from a new book I am working on, “Photography by Design.”



                Red and Green, redgreens




blueorange) Blue and OrangePhotography By Design

Yellow and Purppurplecenterle (Violet) 


The above photos demonstrate how these “magical combos” will make you want to include them into your future artwork. Whenever you have a dominance of one of these colors, try to introduce the opposite color on the color wheel. These “dynamic duos” in various shades and values make the difference in the pizazz of your image.

TIPS: 1. These same rules apply when painting, add red into green trees as shadows. Then add green into the shadows of the barn and see how cohesive your painting becomes. It is emotionally hard to do this at first because it makes no sense, but do it plus try it within other paintings like people or buildings. Ever see someone put a wash of green on a face? (It makes the pinks and reds come out.) Yellows seem to come forward but dulled with a wash of purple, they will receed a bit. And even in decorating, we use “pops” of complementary colors as accents, check out some magazines and see how this works. Try it yourself next time you are looking for a lift in your decor.

2. If  using colors like a dull maroony red, try a dull bluish green to offset the color. Same goes with really vibrant colors, use the oppositie range of hues in the same intensity. Look below and see how to incorporate other ways to use color.

Analogous color is using one side of the color wheel. Here are examples of using the different sides to create wonderful pictures, note the warmer tones vs. the cooler ones.analogous

fruit colorsbsmlWARM colors (yellows – red violet) and COOL colors (Green – blue violet)

Look how the objects seem to change color due to the actual background color each is set upon. (FYI: Green makes red, redder. Orange makes blue, bluer, etc.).  Look how the tomatoes look darker on the cool color pallete. The green grapes practically disappear on the cool color spread and the orange cumquats look brighter on some colors. Click on this “poster” to view it larger and block out little sections with your fingers. When you look at an individual item on 1 color, you can see how it is affected by the color change in the background. And YES, I had way too much time on my hands today when I came up with my “fruit” color chart! Couldn’t help myself once I started doing this. Nice touch, eh?

TIP FOR PAINTERS: Try adding warm color washes on one side of people or objects where the light is coming from, and a cool color wash on the shadow side. And — dah-da, as my art buddies can attest to, my belief is that no painting is complete until the purple (violet) grounds a landscape creating the shadows. I just learned putting a touch of colbolt blue in these adds a special glow. See what happens when you try these out.

Have a COLORFUL day!





First Friday coming up this week, April 5, 2013

Meet us down in Liberty Station (off Dewey St.) for the monthly ART WALK. I do not know if I had a piece accepted in the April show but it is worth  coming to see the fabulous art and artists that belong to the San Diego Watercolor Society.

So, if you live in the San Diego area and have never been to one of these special evenings (5-8), you are in for a treat. Food and drinks, chocolate and lots of art in many galleries within the old barracks. Barracks 19 is where there is a lot of action and I have paintings and photos at the Women’s Museum in Barrack 16. Enjoy yourself and bring a friend.

From the 8, take Rosecrans to Roosevelt (L), to Dewey (L).