30 Paintings in 30 Days, days 26 and 27

Three more days, it has been the best of times and the worst of times, but I will be relieved to finally be finished.


Yesterday, Monday, was the first day I didn’t know if I would finish my painting. Tuesdays are an extra busy day because John and I do our volunteer work to clean out the cat adoption cages at Petsmart. It’s also the day I take classes at the gym, so my painting “Wine?”came to a conclusion about 7;30 pm, luckily John stepped in and picked up dinner at El Pollo Loco. Everything being in muted indoor light, this was another study in subtle color relationships.


Today’s painting “Bridal Boutique” yet another study in subtle color relationships, I’m starting to see a pattern here. While walking around Tivoli Village, an upscale shopping area here in Las Vegas, I saw this Bridal store. As the sun shimmered in the window it was stunning to see the light play on the satin fabric.

Color relationships is not the only pattern I’m seeing in my work. To someone who hasn’t experienced painting before, it might seem that an artist starts a painting than methodically works calmly to the end. Maybe some may actually work like this, but my journey is more like the bottom illustration.Screen Shot 2015-01-27 at 7.17.46 AMI begin, than an uphill struggle, a small platform of ease, than another uphill struggle etc. until the giant valley at the top, where I do not know if it can be solved… helped… or saved. If the giant valley can be crossed, the painting is a downhill path with small stops until the end. There really isn’t such a thing as an easy painting.


30 Paintings in 30 Days, days 20 and 21

SceneFrom-ItalyLRDay 20’s painting is a subject I would have never painted before this challenge. As I’ve said before in this blog, angles are a big problem for me, and an image like this would have sent me into a dyslexic turmoil. What I’ve discover…it’s all about the angles. Everything is angles, if I can master the angles, I can master the drawing. I’m learning to look past the complex and just compare one angle at a time.


Day 21’s painting was about subtle color and textures. This is a photo of a model I took several years ago. I put her in a pink night-gown that looked like a dress and elbow length gloves. There was a cool light coming in the window that played nicely off the satin gown.

In this painting I worked from the obvious to the difficult. When I started, I had no idea what color her skin would be, but as the background and the dress developed they told me what the flesh needed to be.

30 Paintings in 30 Days, days 18 and 19

The Littlest Swans by Diane EugsterDay 18 and 19 feature dancing, but of very different kinds; one fresh and airy, one dark and earthy.

When John walked by my easel yesterday morning, he took a look at the photo for the day and said ” how are you going to paint that?”, I said… I don’t know. 

At first it looked like everything was just floating, not many solid darks, and a background of neural grey. But as I lookup at it longer, I saw why I selected it. All of the values were very close, causing the colors to have an unusual richness. I could also see there was warmth in that grey, the magic being the cool tones against the warm neutral. This is usually the case with me, when I finally realize what I’m looking at, I can paint it.

This young ballet group was performing at an outdoor park, the backdrop is a white piece of canvas, the light from outside is just peeking through at floor level.

MusicLRThis dancer and accompanying musicians were the entertainment at a Belly Dancing convention here in Las Vegas at the South Point Casino and Hotel.

This photo was another challenge as it was blurry from the dim light and movement in the scene. It was a temptation to start at the face, but I’ve learned, painting a head is worthless if it’s in the wrong place. All the the things going on next to her were really what defines her. I started on the easiest parts to grasp, than as things progressed the more difficult areas became easier. My palette was Cad. Yellow Lemon, Yellow Ochre, Cad. Red Deep, Viridian, Permanent Red Oxide and Ivory Black.



30 Paintings in 30 days, days 8 and 9

Before I began the challenge all my subjects for the paintings were picked out. They were also put in random order, so that I wouldn’t know what the days’ image would be until I started for that day.

When I saw this photo I said *&%$!! under my breath. It’s not that I don’t love the subject of the ballet dancers, but five figures on a 8″x8″ panel, what was I thinking? This was the biggest challenge to date.


I wanted to keep them loose but they had to accurate, so it was about the drawing, the drawing, the drawing. This reminded me of when I used to teach, inevitably someone would say “I don’t want to learn to draw, just paint”, painting is all about drawing, it’s drawing with paint. I used Yellow Ochre, Cad Red Deep, Viridian, Cobalt Blue and Ivory Black.


This quiet scene was day nine. John and I went to an Indian reservation in Santa Fe a couple of years ago. This scene of a horseman trotting down the dirt road had such a relaxed feeling about it, that’s what I tried to capture. I used Cad. Yellow Deep, Permanent Green, Cobalt Blue and Transparent Brown Oxide.

30 Paintings in 30 Days, day 6

And I thought today was going to be the easy day. The image for today was a high contrast picture of a young woman with thick black hair. I rendered this subject in a monotone of Indian Red and White. I’ve always liked using Indian Red because the lightest value is a pink, not to cold, it’s darkest, right out of the tube value is a rich decadent brown red.

After I roughed in the obvious, darkest darks, lightest lights and midtones I could see getting those in between shades was going to be the most important. Like writing music, one note to high would shatter the melody, too many high notes would weaken the harmony. I felt like I was walking a tight rope, keeping balance, not veering too far to one side or the other. To keep the darks really rich I had to keep any hint of opaque lighter tones exactly where they were intended. The easy day……not today!

DreamingLR2Take a look at the other Artist’s work that are involved with the Challenge


30 Paintings in 30 Days, day 5

I’ve decided what I’m doing is a self-induced painting workshop, where I’m the student and the teacher. The down side is there isn’t the stimuli from instructor and other students, the upside is I have to learn to teach myself. Being that painting is a solitary pursuit, learning to teach myself more effectively is a very handy skill to have.

This painting, which is available on my Daily Paintworks site, is from a photo I took while being fortunate enough to photograph our Nevada Ballet. I found the time before the practice was the most interesting. Some dancers stretched, while others gathered in groups to chat. The girl in the painting was concentrating heavily on fixing the strap on her point shoe.

The palette I chose was Yellow Ochre, Cad. Red Deep, and Ivory Black.


30 Paintings in 30 Days, day 4

This has happened with the previous three paintings; after several hours into the painting, I get a very clear vision of the subtle nuances in the subject, things that need to be rendered with deft brushwork and careful value adjustments, unfortunately it’s also the point when I’m getting tired, want to rush things and get sloppy – when I pick up the brush and think, this thing really needs to be cleaned but I use it anyway.

This is the supreme exercise for me, to stand back, take a deep breath and concentrate on the task at hand.

I was telling my husband about this phenomenon and he said, yeah like when you take a road trip, the first five hours on the highway is no problem but it’s when you near the destination and you’re getting tired you have to slow down watch the city traffic, find addresses etc……exactly!

I thought about several options for a color palette. A monotone using Terra Rosa, a two color palette of Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine Blue, but I decided on Cad. Orange, Cad. Red Deep, Cobalt Blue and Ivory black. Here’s the block in-

IMG_0967And the final painting-



First Day 30 Paintings in 30 Days

I was anxious to get started with the first painting today. I mixed up the images so that the subject would be a surprise .

This photo was from my Renaissance collection. Starting off with a limited pallet I massed in the shapes, just breaking up the space.




This reminded me of my plein aire painting days when I would say things like, “this is the subject that you have before you, just do it”. I decided not to change anything , if I needed to later, I could. With so many color passages in a small space the importance of correct value was the most important, in order to keep things organized. Get the shapes, values, edges than color.

Using White, Cad Orange, Cad Red Light, Cad Red Dark and Cobalt Blue made me stick to a narrow range of hues. A green tone was needed at the top of the painting, I had to think “what’s the greenest mixture I can get?” The answer was Cobalt Blue and Cad Orange.

Check out the other 30 paintings in 30 days at Leslie’s Challenge website.

Glad I got this first one done…..on to day two


Experimenting with Color, Painting without White

I like to throw a challenge out to myself when planning a painting, it wakes me out of the trance of doing things the same way all of the time.

I began this painting by using only the paint colors that I had to in order to paint the subject. Being very conservative about my choices was a good way of experimenting with color.

The most obvious thing I needed was a red, Cad Red Medium wouldn’t let me get the warmer orange reds, so I decided on Cad Red Light.


As I looked further I could see some rich cool reds would also help the painting so I went ahead and added Cad Red Medium (though later on in the painting I saw I could have done without it).

The darkest darks in the image where brown, so Burnt Umber made the list.


The warm light in the image made Naples Yellow my choice, which is one of my favorite colors because of it’s buttery light tone and it’s opacity.

blo4 I grabbed my tube of white as if almost by habit, than stopped myself, can I get by using Naples Yellow in place of white? The answer was yes,using Naples Yellow instead of white kept the warm glow in the image. The opaque quality lighten up the Umber, while keeping some warmth, burnt umber can get very grey when mixed with white. The pinks that were made with the reds and the naples yellow kept the color harmony in the painting.

Lady in Red by Diane Eugster
Lady in Red by Diane Eugster

Location, Location, Location

This is part of several blog posts that share my experience over the years with finding, setting up and taking photos of people for my paintings. In this post I’m going to talk about the places I like to use to take these photos.

note; It would be nice to have live models to paint from, but most of the time it’s just not realistic. The cost of hiring someone for 4 or 5 days is cost prohibitive, and down right boring to many people. A good balance for me is to attend a life drawing session regularly. A good one here in Las Vegas is at the Summerlin Art Group. What I learn from life drawing can be infuse into the photo images.

1. Parks

Outdoors has always been a favorite of mine. And parks tops my outdoor list. Spring Mountain State Park is 30 minutes from Las Vegas, with trails, trees and historic buildings, it’s a great pick.

Painting at Spring Mountain Ranch by Diane Eugster
My Painting from a photo at Spring Mountain Park

Many home developers have common area parks with stone bridges, water features etc. If there isn’t a gate, why not use the scenery in your own photos?

Local parks are another great choice. Sometimes this is a good alternative if your model doesn’t know you very well and would feel more comfortable meeting at a public place for your photo shoot.

2. Home

There’s no place like home – in the next few days, walk around inside your home with an eye for painting scenarios. Think small, it only takes a corner of a room with the light streaming in to make some drama. Your couch looking a little tired?, throw a quilt on it for a different painterly effect? It might be surprising the special areas in your home that would lend themselves to scenes.

3. Your Backyard

We have desert landscaping, with some vines growing on the stucco walls. The photo below looks like a garden, but it’s just staged in a small pocket of greenery

My photo
My photo
Painting in my backyard by Diane Eugster
My Painting

3. Borrow a Backyard

That’s right you might have a friend or relative with a green thumb, they would probably be flattered that you wanted to use their yard in one of your paintings.

photo for  painting
My Mother-in-laws Garden

4. Your Model’s Home

The great thing about this is, being in their own home, your model is more likely to be relaxed, a relaxed model is a good model. You may discover things there that you never dreamed of putting in a painting before. The Model below had some fabulous tapestries in her home –

photo by Diane Eugster
The photo in front of one of her tapestries

My next post we’ll talk about how I get myself and the model ready for a shoot-