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Sunday, December 16, 2012

MB Challenge December 2012 'Old Age'

What better way to celebrate old age than with two spry 80+ year olds who still have the energy to join a Charles Reid Workshop in Prague and Salzberg? Mary from Canada, and Delys from Australia put me to shame with their 'game on' attitude. I swear, Mary could out 'go' me easily! Those are hiking shoes, folks...and I think they were used often :)

I fell in love with the red umbrella, even though you can see from its reflection on Mary's paper why a colored rain catcher is not such a good idea! Look how the sun rakes across her body! Super!

"Mary and Delys in Salzberg"
20x16" Pastel on sanded paper

Diana, our fearless leader, came through with flying colors as usual.

"Contrasts of Life"
Original framed oil 8"x10"
©2012 Diana Moses Botkin

Mark Adams is going to take a sabbatical for a few months, but his December submission is awesome...
"Self portrait with Sammy"
   oil on panel  6" x 8"

Suzanne was swamped with end of year commissions, so if she gets something to me, I'll post it later :)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Adolescence: Monthly MB Challenge 10-15-12

Whew! After missing last month due to a complete misunderstanding of the subject...duh...and coupled with moving to a new 'smaller' place, here is this month's painting. Studio is in boxes, and the new space is almost ready!

Of course, we all have our life challenges from time to time :) Welcome back, Suzanne!

"Tyler the Teenager"
14" x18" Pastel
©2012 Vicki Ross

Oil on canvas
©2012 Suzanne Berry

"Self portrait 1968"
Oil on canvas
27" x 18"
©1968 Mark Adams 

"Soothing Break" 
Oil on hardboard 6"x9" 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"Statue" MB Challenge for August 2012

I was responsible for the Moses Botkin Challenge theme this month...paint a statue. Kind of hard to mess up? Nope :) For some reason the deadline snuck up on me, big time! I might do some additional work after she faces the wall for a few days. Process slideshow below Diana and Mark's interpretation of the statue theme. It is always SO much fun to see how we independently arrive at a solution!

16x12" Oil on Panel

"Tale of Woe"
Original oil on hardboard, 8"x8"

"Nymphs and Satyr" 
 22" x 28", Oil on Canvas  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Moses Botkin Challenge, July 2012

Whew, time flies when you're having fun! This month's subject is from Diana MB (our founder)...Hands. I got a wee bit carried away into the world of realism :) Short slideshow follows.

"'lil Mama-San"
6x6" Oil on Linen

"Hand and breast"
8" x 8", Oil on panel 

"Blue Egg"
Oil on hardboard 6"x6"

Here is my short slideshow:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Moses Botkin Challenge June 2012

"Josh & Jessie"
10x16" Oil on Linen
© V.N.Ross

Challenge group member Mark Adams threw out the challenge for this month "Chiaroscuro" which loosely translated means light and dark. One strong light source which throws the form into dark shadow. 

I almost didn't finish yesterday, and still see some edits that will improve this. BUT, I haven't missed a Moses Botkin Challenge in over 2 years! I used several of my experimental techniques on this one: good drawing with my grid, verdaccio (grey-green underpainting) for value study, color layer in 4 posterized values, and finally a prismatic palette for the skin tones. Throw in a bit of Les DeMille on the hair...and there you go! Easy-peesy :) One of these days...I'll know how to get straight where I want to go.

"Theological Studies"

Original oil 5"x7"

"In the Pit" 

7"x10" Oil on panel

©2012 Mark Adams

"Basque Dancer"

7"x9" Oil

©2012 Mary Maxam

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 2012 Moses Botkin Challenge - Indigenous Tree

Mary Maxam concocted the challenge this month...a tree from our area. These trees are typical of Northwest Arkansas, not so many evergreens so it can get bare in the winter.

"West of Healing Springs" 
Oil on Linen Panel, 11x14" 
©2012 Vicki Ross

Oil on museum quality Ampersand Gessobord panel. 8" x 10" 
©2012 Mark Adams

"Reaching for the Sky" 
Oil on hardboard, 11.5"x6"©2012 Diana Moses Botkin

"Palo Verde Sunset, a desert tree"
 14x18", oil
© Becky Joy

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


12x9" Oil on Linen
© Vicki Ross

The 3rd commission delivered last weekend! Working title on this one was "Cutie". A really fun painting, even though the original photo used a flash.

Slideshow below:

Commission information:

You've been invited to view "Portraits V.Ross".

If you are unable to access this journal by clicking the button, please copy and paste the URL below into your browser.

Monday, May 7, 2012


Commission #2 (delivered with #1 and #3 last weekend in LR)
9x14" Oil on Linen
© Vicki Ross

Emma is Bailee's youngest sister. 

Middle Sister, Hannah, was painted several years ago in pastel. I see all kinds of things I'd do different today (like could you use some cool colors in the shadows!), but Gigi loves it. (ps: don't know what that hickey is on the photo :) 

Slideshow of Emma is below:

14x18" Pastel on Sanded Paper
© Vicki Ross

commission information:

You've been invited to view "Portraits V.Ross".

If you are unable to access this journal by clicking the button, please copy and paste the URL below into your browser.

Monday, April 30, 2012


9x14" oil on linen
© Vicki Ross

Mission Accomplished!  Still struggling with slideshows and iPhoto...the infamous flash workaround so these will show up on iPads. This is also the last portrait I did before figuring out how much fiddling I was doing to get the drawing right. Hate to be adjusting the tilt of an eye when you are almost ready to declare victory!

For me, the grisaille underpainting gives me a much better foundation for color. Now to figure out a way to nail the facial tones sooner :)

See Slideshow below:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Mom's Lilies

"Mom's Lilies"
18x20" Oil on Panel
© Vicki Ross

Prime example of what NOT to do...sweet yellow lilies...halfway through, a painting session after a stressful meeting. The painting turned from sweet to something of the devil!

Since I believe there are lessons to be learned with every painting, I kept stubbornly working until I felt I had said all I wanted to say. Slideshow below:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

"Shopping" April '12 MB challenge!

"Petco with Poppy"
8x11" oil on canvas

Once again, my challenge group amazes me! Who'd a thunk it...a one word concept interpreted in wild directions...Thanks Becky Joy for this one... In the buggy (from left) Annie, Frankie (visiting for the weekend), Beemer (daddy of Frankie and BJ), and Beemer, Jr. (BJ). Randy carries a special pad with him to put in the bottom of the buggy so their tender feetsies are comfortable. Beemer used to be as black as BJ until he had 'babies'.

"Laissez les bons temps rouler"
Oil on panel 8" x 10"
©2012 Mark Adams

"Shop 'til You Drop"
Oil on hardboard 4"x6"

"Shopping Without A List"
8"x 8" oil 

Friday, March 30, 2012

"Parisian Street"

"Parisian Street"
18x12" Oil on Copper
© Vicki Ross

Too many places to talk! And believe it or not, I can lose several days in my brain :) Put something quickly on Facebook, and then forget to blog about it where it can be explored in depth! 

I get so many compliments on my 'process' slideshows, I try to do one with every finish. Since I am in the habit of taking continuous progress photos, they are just sitting there waiting to be shared. Picasa was so easy to make a quick slideshow, but since they use flash...and ipads don't...had to find another suitable solution. May change again, who knows?

SO, here it is..."Parisian Street" in progress: 

Thursday, March 22, 2012


18x11" Oil on Linen
© Vicki Ross

When I saw the creased black and white photo from the 1950's, I immediately got an enlarged xerox copy of it to paint 'later' when I felt my skills would do it justice.

FIVE years ago, a move later, and I was actually able to put my hands on the photocopy. Took a digital photo of the copy so I could design compositions and values. Here is the response from Shorty's daughter, Pam:

"How you could take an old, worn out, black and white photo and create such a wonderful color portrait that perfectly captures the look and spirit of Daddy, is a real tribute to your talent. I have been fortunate to have been able to watch your progress through the past few years. Your work has always been better than good. You are now reaching perfection! I am transported back in time, to the wonderful memories of so long ago when I was a little girl." PB (commission info below)

I'm in my 'grisaille' phase, and enjoying every minute of it. One of my late mentors, Ann Templeton, whispered to another classmate 'if I could just get her to slow down'. Well, Ann, I have slowed down. Practicing tonal values, getting them right without having to worry about color. Making sure I 'stay in drawing', and taking my time.

Will I stay with this method? Probably not. I'm just going through all the excellent tutoring I've had and practicing those techniques that I wanted to revisit later.

Enjoy the process of "Shorty". (A compulsory painting)

freestyle: loose shape drawing with brush, refine drawing all the way to the end. Measuring with end of paint brush for accuracy. Requires skill

freestyle with training wheels: combination of the two extremes, mostly starting with color after first underpainting tonal sketch. Still using grid drawing, same size source material, acetate tracing for double checking

compulsory: using all tools at hand, same size source, grid lines, drawing, careful underpainting as many sessions as it takes, glazing with color, then 'decorating' with loose strokes. Using an acetate tracing to check drawing at each session. Requires patience (and more than a bit of OCD)

 Commission info:
You've been invited to view "Portraits V.Ross".
View "Portraits V.Ross"
If you are unable to access this journal by clicking the button, please copy and paste the URL below into your browser.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

"Isabelle" Slideshow

This painting was done for the Moses Botkin Challenge for March 2012. It is an exercise in using a commonly attributed "Zorn Palette": Cad red lt, yellow ochre, ivory black and titanium white. These exercises are so important to understand how your selected palette of colors 'play' together.
14x11" Oil on Linen Panel
© Vicki Ross

My model is Isabelle Roché, who owns La Maison du Pastel in Paris. Very interesting story...Roché Pastels have been manufactured continuously since the late 1800's...used by Degas and other painters of the time.

I started with a color swatch ala Schmid, mixing two pigments and creating tones with T.White.

This is an in-between process I'm tentatively calling "Freestyle with Training Wheels", because I only did two sessions of Grisaille underpainting. "Compulsory" is with 7-8 layers of underpainting. Kind of reminds one of obsessive compulsive, doesn't it?

"Freestyle" is where I started learning to paint faces, with no grid, drawing, or underpainting. I'd be all the way to 'done' and realize that one of the eyes was 'out of drawing'. My new method is training me to be more accurate from the very first mark.

And, that, my fellow artists, is a good thing!

Had I started with more OCD, well, who knows? At least I know I can do Freestyle, just with less consistent results.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Moses Botkin Challenge March 2012 Zorn Palette

This month was my idea...using the pigments most usually attributed to 'the Zorn Palette'...Cadmium Red Lt, Yellow Ochre, Ivory Black and White. These are the modern ones that closely match Anders Zorn's favorite limited palette.

14x11" Oil on Linen Panel

My model is Isabelle Roché, who owns La Maison du Pastel in Paris. Very interesting story...Roché Pastels have been manufactured continuously since the late 1800's...used by Degas and other painters of the time.

Ever the student, I started with a quick color swatch 'assignment'. These are mixed with just two of the 4 pigments, lightened with white. Adding a smidge of one of the 3rd colors would give more choices! 

"Color Swatch Cad Red Lt, Yellow Ochre, I.Black, T.White"
© Vicki Ross, Oil

9"x7" oil  

"Laura and Vincent"
 8" x 10", Oil on panel

Oil on canvas, 10"x8"
©2012 Diana Moses Botkin

6x6" oil

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Thea's Imani

"Thea's Imani"
14x11" Oil on Linen Panel
© Vicki Ross

As I gazed at the photo of Imani, I realized that his white marking spelled his name. Well, with just a bit of creativity! Thea is a good friend, and was heartbroken over the passing of Imani...

Also, a confession! I took the final photo of the painting at my easel where the glare of the north light cast a distinctive coolness. AND washed out the background. So a wee bit of Photoshop and viola...swap out the background for a closer match to the original :) Note to self: don't forget this lesson!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Orange you Bluetiful!

I'm declaring victory on this one...did one last glaze, and renamed it. "Bluebird of Happiness" is a handmade glass product of Terra Studios just right 'near here. So, when you plan a destination visit to NWArkansas, add this to your must-see list!

"Orange you Bluetiful"
7x5" Oil on Linen/Panel
© Vicki Ross 

And below is my progress slideshow.

Friday, February 24, 2012

"'M' and the Kazama Kimono"
16x12" Oil on Linen
© Vicki Ross

If this wedding kimono could imagination would be overwhelmed. Randy's mother, Teiko, kept this safe and secure until she handed it down to Randy. It was her sister's wedding outfit...complete with the matching obi, purse, hair ornament, fan, and split toe socks. The undergarment, apparently worn for the ceremony was all white. This was worn for the festivities. 

The model happened to be available during a more formal sitting, and I snapped a few pics. She is of an age where life changes happen and sometimes represent a pensive look to the past. This is why I had her looking to the left.

I hope to have other models pose in this kimono. I'm currently practicing with a complete underpainting...'Grasaille' in French means greys; 'Verdaccio' in Italian means greens. 

A slideshow of my process is below: (and I've never had so much trouble getting a slideshow put together until this week! Seems like every time I do something, it is totally different)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

"Tools of the Trade" Moses Botkin Feb. 2012 challenge

Whew, the months just fly by! Sometimes it seems I maintain equilibrium through the inevitable deadline on the 14th/15th of the month... This month's topic was "Tools of the Trade". As always, it is SO much fun on the 14th to see everyone else's interpretations of the topic. Thanks Suzanne for the creativity...and welcome to several new members: Mary Maxam, Mark Adams, and Becky Joy. Diane, Suzanne and I are returning for another year of fun! Be sure to visit their blog links on the right :)

"Bluebird En Plein Air"
4x4" oil on panel
© Vicki Ross

"Barber Tools"
Oil on hardboard 6"x8"

6x6" oil

"Tool of the Trade"
10x30" oil on canvas
© 2012 Suzanne Berry

'A Painter's Handful'
8"x10" oil

"Tools of the trade - Bartender"
 6" x 8" Oil on panel 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chair Paintings #2

"Spring Bluebird"
4x4" oil on panel $75
© Vicki Ross

I'd better get back to chair painting or I'll catch up with me! The glass bluebird is a product of Terra Studios just outside Fayetteville, AR. You can read about the original "Bluebird of Happiness" on their website. 

This little guy and I are going to have fun! He even traveled over the river and through the woods to Grandma's house on xmas day...

I sat him on my iPad cover and loved how the lime green changed his body color.