Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What’s in your tube of oil paint?

While I'm not an expert in art conservation, I am the artist who paints full-time. After years of painting, conversations with other professionals and some research, I can offer my basic guidance choosing oil paints. Feel free to research this topic further via my references or by contacting products’ manufacturers, or any other way you may see fit.

Artists have many choices. Picking the right brand of oil paint can be a challenge. Some brands are promoted so heavily by art supply companies that artists buy their paint without a second thought. When I was a student, the quality of paint hardly ever mattered to me and my most common determinant was the price. Today as I take care of my art, however, my buying choices are strongly influenced by the quality and lightfastness of oil paint.

There are several important properties of oil paint artists should pay attention to. The most necessary information can be seen right on the tube. Don’t buy paint that doesn’t have the following data printed on it.

1. Transparency vs. opaqueness of your paint.

An empty square, half-empty, or filled square-gives artists information about the paint’s transparency. While some colors are transparent, others are opaque or semi-opaque. Some brands just say “Transparent” or “Semi-opaque” as opposed to assigning a specific symbol to it. So when I chose my paint for glazing-applying transparent layers of paint-I look at the square/ or a note on transparency to determine if my paint is naturally good for glazing. Some transparent colors are Gamblin’s ultramarine blue, Michael Harding’s bright yellow lake, or Charvin’s transparent yellow ochre, etc. Opaque or semi-opaque colors are often good for scumbling.

2. Pigments used in oil paint determine the lightfastness (resistance to light) or longevity of your art.

This is the most important principle in choosing your paint. While some basic colors have just one pigment, there are many colors that consist of several pigments mixed together along with oil, fillers, and binders. These “new”, not historical colors give artists a lot more color choices but each pigment present in such paint tube should be checked for lighfastness separately. For example, Winton flesh tint has 4 pigments in it (PW6, PW5, PY42, and PV19).
The pigments are described by letters and numbers. For example, PB15-phtylocianine blue is rated lightfastness I. PW1-lead white is lightfastness I. PR2-Napthol red G- lightfastness II, etc.
Here is extensive pigment information database that lists oil paint properties including lightfastness:
Each company performs its own tests on lightfastness of the oil paint. This information is included on the tube too. It reads either as +, ++ or +++, or lightfastness 1, lightfastness 2, or lightfastness 3 and so on. The higher the number (3-4) the less lightfast the paint is. By nature, browns and ochres are often more lightfast than some funky colors, like alizarin crimson or turquoise. Those colors that have lightfastness 3-4 are fugitive and fade pretty quickly. If you paint professionally, those colors should be avoided painting with.
Artists can perform their own tests as well by exposing 1/2 of paint to the sun (while the other half is covered by black tape or cardboard). Lift the tape in a month of continuous light exposure to see the change in color of your pigment. Artist Virgil Elliott has tested numerous colors of various brands and he included a lot of information about painting in his book "Traditional oil painting."

3. Type of oil mixed into the paint.
All paints have some oil premixed into the paint. Linseed oil-is the most stable oil that is also used widely as paint medium by artists. It’s long-lasting and dries quite quickly.
Safflower oil, poppy oil, and walnut oil are other, less stable oils often used as vehicles mixed into tubed oil paint.

4. The amount of fillers and binders present in oil paint.

Various amounts of fillers and binders are mixed into oils as well. They dilute the pigment by “stretching” the paint and thus making it cheaper to the consumer. Fillers and binders greatly affect the consistency and texture of paint. It could affect the drying speed of paint as well. Rublev colors, manufactured by Natural Pigments, don't have any filler in their paint making the oils more stable and with high tinting strength. Like other professional-grade paints, they give artists a lot more pigment placed in a small tube as opposed to cheaper oil paint manufactured in a much larger tube.

Professional brands of oil paints include:

-Rublev colors by NP
-Old Holland
-Michael Harding
-Chroma, etc.

These are great resources for further research:

The atelier movement- a closed group on Facebook-exists for artists interested in classical painting. The group’s administrator is classically trained artist-Graydon Parrish.
-Artist Virgil Elliot:
-Beth Sistrunk's blog:
-Douglas Flynt' blog:
-"The artist's handbook of materials & techniques" by Ralph Mayer:

Visit my website today for tutorials, art and news:

Friday, October 10, 2014

NEW Step by Step Colored Pencil Demonstrations

My new demonstrations in colored pencil & oil are available for download from

Portrait of Sasha, 12 step colored pencil demonstration

Yellow Rose, 6 step colored pencil demonstration

Still life with glass and shell, video and digital file bundle, 12 step colored pencil demonstration 

Thank you for your interest!

Monday, August 4, 2014

About my recent paintings: what it means

Painting is like poetry. It reveals something that is usually hidden, hidden within the depth of our souls. Some call it “secrets,” others label it “privacy.” Whatever that is artists and writers have the guts to deliver it, some do it half-way, others all the way. As a result artists often become vulnerable.
My work is not about photo-realism or copying of reality, rather it’s about achieving realistic effects to believably convey emotions, ideas, and relationships between people.  My painting is always infused with symbolism, which is sometimes unknown to my own logical psyche until it’s complete. Asking the artist to explain his/her painting is like pressing to extract the essence from it, to deliver the “secret” that should be read by the viewer himself. It’s akin to asking writers to give out the book’s ending without trying to read it on your own. After all, painting is exciting while it remains unexplained. My works have multiple endings, sometimes hidden from my own self. Because this type of art is not decorative, it's destined to become part of some museum collection or a private one in the future.
For many my art is too edgy, weird, and unexplained but for some it’s beautiful and evocative of their feelings and experiences. I recently sold pieces painted several years back that communicated feelings of solitude I depicted in a range of blues, trees, and the Moons. They finally connected with the right person who found himself in the same place I used to be in. Although my work is different today, it still relies on the same principles of symbolism and emotion.
Why masks?
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
Oscar Wilde
Masks deconstruct a person. They make it easy to imagine oneself behind it. There is no association with a “particular” face and the story becomes a priority. Masks also translate into something concealed and thus go beyond our obvious associations.
Why carnival figures?
I love elaborate dress code with as many elements in it as possible. My affinity for baroque style is obvious in works filled with detail, elegance, and beauty.  Several years ago I made arrangements to go to Venice, Italy during the carnival month to take pictures of dressed up people walking the streets of ancient town. Venetian patterns, masks and gowns provide me with infinite inspiration.  

Tenderness, oil on canvas, 26x34 inches
This work is about sincere feelings of love, affection, and care, which is depicted through the use of warm colors in the background and the sunlit fabric of the figure. Little birds, flowers, and ribbons signify tender, fragile state of the heart. Usually, female figures depict such feelings but I wanted to break away from such tradition and depict a male figure that could be as elegant and pure.

Promises, oil on gilded panel, aluminum leaf, 26x34 inches
This painting is about the early stage of relationship when many promises are given to each other.  Thus I have two figures facing each other. Red signifies love.

Keeper, oil on canvas, 48x36 inches

Keeper is about forces or powers that go way beyond our understanding or reach.

Hidden II, oil on canvas, 26x34 inches

Hidden I and Hidden II
This work is about keeping the key to yourself, your own heart, hiding from others your most vulnerable self.

Colored Pencil Drawings:

I am influenced by Baroque art that can be described as “over the top,” every corner of a painting or a church is taken over by incredibly elaborate set of information. While my colored pencil drawings are simply studies of light and shapes, they follow the principle of elaborate elegance. Drawings are based on my pictures taken in various churches, palaces and other beautiful places.

Chandeliers of Versailles

All drawings are about 9x12 inches, each took about 50 hrs to complete, drawn with light-fast pencils on paper (archival quality materials).

To see more art visit: 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Gecko, colored pencil drawing demonstration

This is a fun project to draw in colored pencil with kids and adults alike.

Supply list:

* Canson’s Mi-Teintes pastel paper, beige (smooth side)
* Prismacolor Premier colored pencils (colors listed in steps); they can be replaced with other soft, colored pencils
* Turpanoid/Gamsol and a small brush for burnishing (blending)
* General’s pencil sharpener
* Transfer paper, sketch paper
* Kneaded eraser

* Fixative: Krylon UV Resistant Clear Gloss

Step 1
Step 1:  After the basic drawing is completed on sketch paper, transfer it to your color paper. I almost always make my preliminary drawing on sketch paper to keep it clean. The accuracy of the outline is vital to creating realist drawings.
I transfer the outlines using white transfer paper. Its lines are easy to erase, leaving no residue.
Then, I strengthen some lines in colored pencil to separate shapes.
Here I used dark brown (substitute with any dark brown pencil, like raw umber) and dark green to map out the dark spots on lizard’s skin and the cast shadow.

Step 2
Step2: I blocked in the background with indigo blue and the same dark brown (a combination of any dark colors will work well). I added grass green and apple green in the background’s middle tones, and spring green in the light.
To strengthen the pattern on the skin, I added a combination of violet, indigo blue, and dark green.
For the eye, I used indigo blue and dark brown to outline it and draw the iris in. I drew darker values (tones) on the left side of the eye, while deliberately using lighter tones on the right.
Notice that all colors look a lot more vibrant on color paper (Canson’s Mi-Teintes pastel paper, beige, smooth side).

Step 3
Step3: I used turpenoid to blend the background colors and a few spots present on the skin. I let it dry completely. Make sure you use a small brush for your blending with solvents that is not used for anything else. Solvents melt wax in wax-based pencils.

Step 4
Step4: Essentially I layered the same colors in the background and added a few more that included poppy red, aquamarine, light aqua, and limepeel. For the light values of the skin, I introduced parma violet and cloud blue drawing with heavy pencil pressure.
What’s important to understand drawing gecko is to see how the skin pattern is shaped around its body’s gesture or movement. Pay attention to NOT creating straight lines and repetitive shapes. Create volume and dimension by curving the uneven lines around its arms and feet.
Step 5
 Step5: I used a little bit of canary yellow and light pink to put the reflected light onto the gecko. I applied background colors again with heavy pencil pressure. I stepped back to see the drawing from the distance checking values and edges.
Outline a few edges with sharp pencils if necessary.

To see art and art books by the artist, visit:

A few photos to practice drawing:

All artwork is copyrighted.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Does art define culture?

The Astronomical clock in Prague, Czech Republic
One of castles in Germany
Nuremberg, Germany
Metz, France

Yes, the U.S. is a rather poor place culturally. Before you devour me for such coarse statement saying that I can't appreciate the country, which is my home, let me explain. As much as I like living here being fond of the opportunities, nurture of talents and entrepreneurial spirit (that doesn't seem to exist anywhere else in the same capacity) this country scores low in cultural destinations, art, and historically valuable objects to be found in Europe.

Yes, it's not quite your fault, America. You are a brand new spirit with all its democracy, consumerism, big cars, McDonald’s and truly, truly great National parks, wide roads, conveniences, and numerous choices. But this great country of innovation really misses out on art. Art that contributes to every creative fiber of your soul is not part of your mind.

Alas to Europe. It's a very lucky place art-wise. Almost every city, town, and even village has a timeworn center with ancient church at its heart. Old streets glimmer with past: buildings can be attributed to periods, churches hold artworks, amazing decorations, stained glass, and ancient altar pieces; houses, castles, and palaces are museums, fountains are monuments, classical sculptures are integral parts of gardens and city squares, and murals or paintings of various time periods envelop every corner of the European citadel. If your soul desires a change of atmosphere, go out, it's right there on the street!

No wonder Europeans are so appreciative of the arts and the artists. When you are raised with art as an integral part of your life, you inner-self finds peace and moral satisfaction by looking at paintings and sculptures, by analyzing or interpreting the themes, by passing by the art on the street, discovering life lived before us. The creativity is set deep within you like a clock while you are still a kid to think out-of-the-box as an adult of any profession, not just fashion, design, painting, or architecture. The subtle shift in priorities-from mundane to spiritual-actually makes us much happier people, living fuller life.

The U.S. does make steps toward the happiness of its nation. Culture can be found in beautiful American museums, places that are expansive, well-lit, diverse, and affordable for most of us to attend. Maybe, it's time for America to raise its core standards, to hire professionals to teach art in public schools, to let cities sponsor artists to create a lot more public art than we currently have, to develop art-infused programs and events that matter, inspire, and nurture the culture from within. Artists will not only find permanent employment, a respectful place in modern society, but will also contribute to spiritual development of those who seek.
in Vienna, Austria

Salzburg city center with medieval fortress, Austria
in royal palace, Melk
Somewhere in France...
In Strasbourg, France
Strasbourg, France
Joan of Arc in Dijon, France

All images are copyrighted by Veronica Winters.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Art Lessons in Realist Drawing, Painting, and Beyond

Art Lessons in Realist Drawing, Painting, and Beyond: 

Interviews and Step-by-Step Demonstrations with International Artists

Did you know that you can meet a dozen of awesome contemporary artists in one place?
Did you know that you can expand your understanding, appreciation, and passion for the arts in a breeze?
Did you know that that you can learn how to draw realistically in colored pencil, paint in oil and acrylic, and even think in terms of 3-D design? 
Do you want to enter the artist's mind? Do you want to think and see creatively by looking at artists' step-by-step demonstrations?
Do you want to give instant inspiration to your friends, relatives, and people you care about?
Do you want to know what tools of the trade professional artists use?
Do you want to have fun learning stuff?
Do you want to find original content?
Do you want to give teens and aspiring artists alike fresh ideas and joy of reading?

If you crave this information, there are images, instructions, interviews, and demonstrations present in this new book!
Both printed copies and digital books are on sale now.

Visit this page to buy it from the artist and editor: 

International orders are fulfilled by contacting the editor. Intl rate shipping applies for all orders.

Or go to Amazon: 

Amazon delivers internationally in some markets.
Contemporary artists working in the field who are included in the book:

Anne-Marie Kornachuk, Canada–oil painting
Beth Sistrunk, U.S.A.–oil painting
David Gluck, Canada–oil painting
Helen Nodding, U.K.–pen and ink, mixed media
K. Henderson, U.S.A.–oil painting
Tanja Gant, U.S.A.–colored pencil
Ann Kullberg, U.S.A.–colored pencil
Karen Hull, Australia–colored pencil, mixed media
Daniel Sprick, U.S.A.–oil painting
Linda Lucas Hardy, U.S.A.–colored pencil
Julie Impens, U.K.–paper cutting, mixed media
Joanne Miller Rafferty, U.S.A.–acrylic painting, mixed media
Veronica Winters, U.S.A.–oil painting, colored pencil
In Art Lessons in Realist Drawing, Painting, and Beyond: Interviews and Step-by-Step
Demonstrations with International Artists, fine artist and editor Veronica Winters
offers a rare chance to see in one publication 13 emerging and established
contemporary realist artists at work. The book features interviews with
international artists, explaining their creative processes and ideas in drawing,
painting, and beyond. Artists talk about their art, technique, and life, showcasing
their craft in numerous full-color illustrations and step-by-step demonstrations.
This book helps readers to develop their artistic skills, learn the nuances of
working in different media, and grow their appreciation for the arts. The book is
a great gift for teen artists, adult art enthusiasts, and any creative soul searching
for inspiration, motivation, and technique.

Random pages from the book:

Part of demonstration by Anne-Marie Kornachuk

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Weapons to kill

Medieval armor in Prague, Czech Republic 
We cheerfully walked the serpentine road up the mountain on a sunny day. Luscious shades of green: viridian and sap tones
spread over the surface of earth like smooth butter. Birds, chirping accompanied our steep climb uphill to one of the German castles. It seemed so incredibly hard, almost close to impossible to besiege such fortress, marching in knight's heavy ammunition and carrying all the supplies uphill, then fighting for your life at the foot of cold stone walls, deflecting spears and hot liquid pouring from the fortress's walls down...
Medieval armor (found in almost every European castle or museum) displayed a scale of knights' character and ego. Shiny silver helmets had different mouth openings and eye slits: some with metal teeth, others with thin lines or small holes reminiscent of a pan sieve. Narrow or pointy they could open and close with little knob attached to the helmet's side.
Definitely custom-made (think feudal “Dolce & Gabbana” fashion house), the size of the medieval armor was of particular body type. Some warriors used to be tall and slender, others were wide and short, all too small for today's male body to fit into. Children's armor for then 14-year old boy could barely fit now an 8-year old person. Brutal weapons showcased cruelty of medieval warfare. Swards, metal spikes, clams, and rather varied sharp spears were perfect examples to study for the movie industry, later re-creating realistic bloodshed on screen (think “Game of Thrones”).
Situated in one of the underground stone chambers at the royal Prague castle, a collection of tools for torture would make anyone shiver. Dark and bare cells held people there begging for quick death.  Thick stone walls muffled the sounds of victims in those cells not to disturb the royalty and guests living upstairs. Long history of inquisition (spanning from 12th to the 18th century) was slowly etched into its walls with horrific tools destined to give poor victims a very slow and painful death. Oftentimes helpless people were thrown into the underground dungeons through secret trap doors. Eventually many people were drowned in pits of water (located in the center of the room) after having extensive torture sessions, moving from one cell to the other, many reached the final torture chamber where they were put to the “Question.”  

Vivid example of the inquisition is recorded in the 2006 Spanish-American movie “Goya’s Ghosts.” Natalie Portman and Javier Bardem play leading roles in this quite fascinating film. It paints a story of fragile and fluid life showing instant shifts of power between the rulers and their people. No life has value in Spanish inquisition and the royal court. Goya’s etchings and paintings become true records of war, pain, and suffering. 

View of the Prague Castle from the river

One of royal rooms

Neat bookcase!

Here we go...

Cages to transport and hold victims after torture

View from the palace, Prague

All images are copyrighted.