More #skieswithjt

The #skieswithjt challenge continued through August and September! The notes from the later paintings are more detailed because I did them in realtime, where the others I filled in later. (It’s worth noting that I like paintings better after time has passed!)

The Paintings

Week 11

Loved: Red silhouettes imply sun!

Learned: Missed a trick in not painting the heart shape into the clouds. Squint at the reference before painting!

Week 12

Loved: White gel pen isn’t too bad for lightning. Also, I like the black stormcloud color!

Week 13


  • I tried to be looser and not reference the photo so much.
  • Intentionally didn’t use Ultramarine Blue; instead, I mixed Phthalo Blue + Dioxazine Violet for the sky, and got a deeper sky color as a result.
  • Complete rainbow from a minimal palette of Alizarin Crimson Quin, Naples Yellow Deep, PBGS, Dioxazine Violet.
  • Pot-o-gold landscape colors from PBGS + Quin Gold.


  • Gray is harder to mix from such high-tinting pigments.
  • Don’t love the cloud shape; an underdrawing would have helped.

Week 14: Geese


  • Intensity of orange color from Transparent Pyrrol Orange!
  • Specificity of geese silhouettes.
  • Leaving a stripe of white helped to avoid grays.


  • The stripe of white may stand out too much, but I’m not sure there’s a way around it.

Week 15: Night Flashlight

Loved: Although different from the source, I loved the colors. (Naples Yellow Deep, Quin Rose, Ultramarine, with Lamp Black silhouettes.)

Week 16: Beach Guy


  • I was intimidated by this reference photo, but the painting came together surprisingly easily! It was especially refreshing because I was working on it at the same time as the Kolbie Blume Light challenge, where I was finding seemingly simpler references much more frustrating to paint. I’m happy I didn’t overwork it and just let it be what it was.
  • I painted the entire landscape before I added the figure freehand. I was sure I’d ruin it, but it came out fine! I especially like the shadow/reflection, which has a simple, easy look.

I knew I kept the overall values lighter than the reference – especially the shadows in the sand – but I wanted the figure to stand out more while still reading as color (not a silhouette), so it was a trade-off. I also really liked the freshness after layer #1 and preferred having a lighter value to changing it on overworking the painting.

Week 17: Roses


  • Sky: Phthalo Blue RS, Ultramarine Blue GS, a bit of Venetian Red (for the cloud gray)
  • Leaves: Phthalo Green GS, Venetian Red, Rich Green Gold, Indigo
  • Flowers: DV Red Rose Deep (PV19 rose), DV Quin Red (PR209 coral), DS Quin Magenta (PR202), HO Pyrrole Rubine (PR264), DS Naphthamide Maroon (PR171)


  • Oversized, plump, falling-off-the-stems roses! I wanted them to take up more of the photo and to have a starring role, so I made them larger compared to the photo. This also allowed me to give more detail.
  • Bold rose color with crisp edges, thanks to masking the shapes first with masking tape. They didn’t even have to be particularly realistic rose shapes.
  • Bright, cartoony, Studio Ghibli/Beauty and the Beast vibes.
  • High contrast between light and shadow in the roses and leaves. It would have been easy to make them all kind of vaguely reddish and greensih smudges.
  • A bit of attention to detail and consciously overcoming my first instincts to avoid things looking too neat. This includes placing the roses in clusters, not making an even amount on each stem, and putting organic bends and twists in the stems, so they’re not too straight and not parallel.
  • Visible brush marks in the sky, giving a cirrus cloud look.

Questions for further exploration:

  • How to make roses look convex instead of concave?
  • Why did my roses turn out looking cartoony and not loosely realistic? I don’t mind but I don’t know what I would have done differently to get a different effect.


I’ve really enjoyed participating in this challenge and painting for, wow, 17 weeks! I had no idea it would go on that long, and neither did JT; he polled the group to decide whether to continue after week 15 or so and the overwhelming consensus was to go on (although I suppose people who didn’t want to continue could have just, you know, dropped off and not voted.) Personally, I think I will leave it there. I want to quit while I’m still having fun and before the weekly prompts become a chore.

In the summer, I spent a lot of time indoors from photos, and a challenge was a nice way to keep things interesting. As the crisp cool weather of fall creeps in, though, I’m spending less time painting from references at home, and more time sketching outside. I’m all for that!

Here’s to the next 17 skies, whatever they’re inspired by.