All art copyright (c) Mike Kloepfer
"The level of achievement that we have at anything is a reflection of how well we were able to focus on it."
-Steve Vai

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I need to STOP repainting the sky. Five times is enough!
FINALLY, by adding Cerulean Blue to my palette, I am getting the colors I want.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Experimenting to see if I want to use Oil for the Humorous Likeness paintings.
I had an idea the other night for the Fab Four, to do each member in his own variation of a B&W color scheme, a takeoff on Kruger's paintings of Keith Richards in blue-gray, with one accent color. But what colors? Then it came to me - use their names as the cue:
Red for Ringo
Purple for Paul
Green for George
...and of course... John Lemon.
So here's a little test. Originally, John was the most difficult to 'get a handle on.' I was NOT going to paint John in the New York t-shirt (that has been done way more than enough times already.) Yesterday, I was looking at photos, and this one jumped out at me. Suddenly, I could see what I wanted to do with it. So, I gave it a try.
We'll see what happens with the color scheme, the idea is good but the implementation needs some tweaking.

KEEF ... Revisited

Yup, it's about time I got back into this painting.
After meeting with the crew from LOL, and looking forward to a spectacular summer, I felt the inspiration return.
I really liked the 'other' sketch of KEEF, and decided it would make a better painting in the end. (I can see why Sebastian Kruger painted him so often, he has a fantastic face, so much 'character...')
I covered over the old block-in (see it HERE) and started a new sketch. I'm thinking I'll continue with Acrylic for the humorous paintings for the time being, although I'm experimenting with Oil for these as well.

Weightless – the painting – an idea?

I've always thought that the drawing “Weightless” would make a great painting.

The basis of the idea is good, but in order to turn it into a painting, I feel it needs a little extra 'something.' We have the sky, and the figure; I believe that 'something' is a third element – something for the figure to interact with. She has an expression like she's enjoying the sunshine on her face... or she might be inspecting – or just looking at – something floating in front of her in the air. (Or perhaps something was already there, and is checking her out...?) The challenge is to figure out what that other element might be.

So I'm sketching and playing around and thinking about it, and wondering what that extra element would be... I think it should be something that is unexpected (kinda like a woman floating weightless above the clouds...) It should, however, make sense in that 'alternate reality' if you catch my drift.

Some of the ideas I came up with were pretty much what you'd expect: a bird, or a butterfly, perhaps? A hummingbird seems kinda cool. How about a balloon, or a kite? A goldfish?

Each idea creates a different 'story' to the picture. However, I think that most of these ideas are kinda what you'd expect. That one great element is still out there somewhere...

My sister had a good idea: a miniature globe (of the earth.)

Hm... need to think on this one a bit....

More studio developments... the palette

I'm trying out a combination of ideas that I've seen over the years. The Lexan palette is from Richard Robinson and Barry John Raybould from the Virtual Art Academy. they also suggested painting the backside a middle gray.

I had tried the idea of the Lexan palette earlier, but Acrylics just dry too fast, and it wound up being more hassle than help. Painting in Oil is a different matter, and I decided to revisit the idea. Placing the palette vertically came from an article I saw on David Jon Kassan. In my small studio area, I have to maximize my efficient use of space! So I am utilizing a second easel for the palette.
The benefit is that the palette receives the light from the same angle as the painting, and there is less discrepancy between the two.

So far so good. It is nice not having the glare from the lights on the palette (when looking down onto the table top.) I also like being able to easily clean the palette between sessions, or even between mixtures. And this one is big, has plenty of room.
I'll see how it goes, and post progress...

Color Charts in Oil


Now that I am digging into painting in oil, I have run into some issues with mixing colors. I found that if I'm painting the sky and sea, I simply need to have Cerulean Blue on my palette. I tried to mix it from other colors, but never was satisfied with the results. The straight tube color, when mixed with white, is so close to what I see as one of the major colors floating in and out of the sky – especially the skies I saw in Florida and the Caribbean. It also works for the skies in Colorado, although the colors tend to lean a little in the other direction, depending on the time of year and what altitude you're at. The skies of the Pacific Northwest tend toward the neutrals and grays, and California has its own personality as well.
As I traveled and moved around the country, I was fascinated with the way each sky has its own distinctive 'personality.' A good friend of mine who is a web designer said that when he moved From Seattle to Florida, his palette changed. He started using more aquas and oranges, because those colors were now so prevalent in his everyday reality. How true.
I spent a lot of time just looking at the sky and clouds, analyzing the hues and shades, and just getting a 'feel' for the color of the sky and the distinctive quality of the light. I could do that for days. I was particularly captivated by the skies in Florida, the way the clouds build up between the Gulf and the Atlantic, and the feel of the light and the atmosphere. I would drive down the highway with my camera on the steering wheel. One day I decided it would just be better to pull over and take pictures, then get back on the freeway. Good idea! LOL
Mixing Cerulean with French Ultramarine gives that perfect variation that makes up the bulk of the sky colors. Of course, there are countless variations, but I see those two colors as 'anchor colors' that the others are played against.
I could be wrong, but I don't care. It's my reality. I'll go with this until I witness something that convinces me otherwise... and I know it's probably out there waiting for me. LOL
I also really like the way the two colors vibrate against each other, especially when they are very close in value. Anything in addition to that is simply icing on the cake... (mmmMMMmmm...) Or perhaps a more accurate analogy would be that those two colors are the basic ingredients, and additional colors and variations are the spices.
I love blue. That's just the way I am.
So I picked up a tube of Cerulean Blue (Yes, HUE... it's what I could afford at the moment. I'll get the real thing in the near future when funds allow. Hey, some paint is better than no paint.)

So the next logical thing to do is to see just how these colors interact with each other, and to test out the mixtures in the range I am attempting to get in the ocean and sky of my current painting.
Even though I have done numerous color charts in acrylic, I understand that oil paints will interact differently, and I want to get more familiar with exactly how they interact.
All the color charts I have done in the past have led me to refine and develop my ideas for organizing my approach to mixing color, to help make sense of the way the paints interact with each other, and to just get more mileage with the palette knife, to improve my ability to mix the colors I want. Otherwise, it gets simply overwhelming; after several colors get thrown into the mix, it gets hard to tell exactly what is going on.
I have come to the conclusion that the best way is to get as close as possible with an initial mixture of two tube colors, and to modify and tweak that mixture slightly to get the exact color I'm looking for.

Last summer I developed a chart for mixing between two raw tube colors, then mixing those up to a very light, near-white (number 1) value in a five-step scale. I added two steps of mixing the base mixtures with black, which gives me a full range of the way two colors interact. So this is the color chart I decided to use.

I started with the colors closest to what I was trying to mix in the painting. First up, Cerulean Blue and French Ultramarine. That takes it from the central Cerulean (which is slightly greenish) to the Ultramarine (which leans toward purple.) Next is to go the other direction (particularly for the ocean colors) and mix Cerulean with Viridian to get the Turquoise colors; then another with Cerulean and Naples yellow to get the greens.
Now I'm really starting to get a feel for the blues, greens and aquas in the sky and ocean colors.
What's next? Let's see... I need to get a handle on some of those neutral flesh tones, and then there's the colors in the clouds...
Eventually, I will do a color chart for every combination of colors on my palette. I think by then I'll have a pretty good handle on how to get very close to the color I want with as simple a mixture as possible. That's the goal, at least.


I found these jars at my 'day job,' they were marked down because there were three missing from the package of nine. SCORE!
I had been looking for small jars: one for turps (specifically for painting,) one for Medium. and one for Retouch Varnish. They need to be small, just enough for when I'm painting. "Dirty turps" for brush cleanup etc can be seen in the big jar, but when using the turps in painting, I want them to be clean and 'undiluted.'
These jars are just the right size. As a bonus, they can either be set straight up, or at a 45-degree angle (see photos.)
Yeah, I know... but sometimes, it's the little things in life.