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Preview: Sara Winters's Painting from Life

Sara Winters Fine Art

Original Paintings in Oil

Updated: 2018-03-05T13:27:26.839-08:00


Still chugging along...


Those little globs of paint add up after a while. Still not quite there yet. Only a couple hundred thousand more brush strokes to go! Haha!

Water, blocking it in.


Oops. Lost some definition in a few spots, but it feels good to have the base down for this chunk of the painting. I love posting these progress pics because they help me see what needs to be changed. 
It's so much fun watching a painting work its way out of the brush. 

Here's a close-up of some really fun, juicy paint. I am soooooo loving the simplicity of these roots!

My little helper


Ha! Bless his heart. 

Both boys want to help with this one, but the younger (age 2) didn't bother to ask for permission. I had trouble reprimanding him, because I was so impressed with his brushwork. And he handled the palette knife and my brushes very well, with way more respect than most children give a tool of that sort. I think it is time to upgrade his painting supplies from watercolor to something more opaque, buttery and all out luscious! Well, close to that. I'll start him on oils when I move into the new studio space. 

Here is the clean-up so far. I really like these roots and can see why so many artists choose to stop at this stage. I will not be stopping, though. 

I've made some progress this week, but can't help but feel I am a little behind schedule. I have a 3.4'x6' canvas waiting to be primed and started. It sits behind me and stares, waiting, waiting for its turn at transformation. 

I find myself falling in love with this painting regardless of its incomplete imperfections. There are a billion and one brush strokes in this piece and and at least that much more to finish it. Learning to slow down and find joy in the process. A lesson that is never fully learned, I think. 

Blocking it in


Please excuse the glare. 

Slapping on some color. Still just base coats. Nothing final yet. I am really enjoying this piece! 
My youngest has been on a Lego movie kick, so when I look at certain parts of the painti

Funny how strong connections in our brains can be with very little effort on a conscious level. When I was a teenager I would listen to music while reading. My favorite pastime was immersing myself in a good book. Anyway- there is an album called In My Time by Yanni that I listened to while reading and to this day, when I listen to songs from that album, I can see the images my imagination conjured up from the books I read. Some were fantasy books with Knights and castles and mythical creatures, but the most vivid images are those from All Quiet on the Western Front. As I replay snippets of the music in my mind, I see yellow and pale lime green leaves on trees, pattering against one another in the gentle breeze in a scene described in the book. The main character was alone, away from the blood and terror and loss, and he saw beauty in the simple things most everyone of us takes for granted. I still love that book.
There are emotions and colors and smells and sounds all wrapped up and forever connected in my mind to a few quiet, rippling succession of notes. 

Each painting is the same way. Whatever we focus on, our thoughts and emotions are tied into every brush stroke. My business mentor told me once that an artist paints from the heart. Much more literally than we like to admit. He said that you can always tell when an artist is struggling with something in thereI personal life because the paintings are off. But only until the artist can put their heart back to rights. So true. 

My creative bursts are cyclical. But I have had my fair share of letting putter crumminess affect my work. 

One day, I will keep a record and see if the moon or the stars or the seasons have much influence over my insanely productive periods, or if it is all just chance... Or the Cosmos tossing me bits of artistic growth, like cookies. Sweet little rewards for painting when I don't want to, or when I feel like I have lost forever that divine connection we mistakenly call inspiration.  

Jibber jabber. 

Déjà Vu


Untitled WIP

Nick wants to call this déjà Vu. 
Two or three years ago I started painting this image. It irritated the life out of me. I shredded the canvas and tossed the remains on the burn pile. Nick has been mourning over that painting all this time so I am giving it another go just to make him happy. 😄 the first piece was jacked in so many ways.  I wasn't comfortable working this size at that point, plus I wasn't comfortable doing as much rearranging Nature the way I do now. It was a good experience, though. Sometimes an object gets too big for its britches (even if just in our own minds) and it needs to be put in its place. The best bit of knowledge I took from that experience is that a painting is just a painting and I won't die or lose all my hair or witness the world imploding just because a painting doesn't turn out the way I hoped.
 I am glad I got to start fresh with it instead of trying to eternally try to fix a painting I didn't like. Goes back to the bones of the piece. If the underlying structure isn't good, the odds of working it into something good are pretty slim. BUT!!!! This is important- if the basic composition works you can do all sorts of tweaking and find yourself with something worthwhile.  (That's tweaking, not twerking. Please- no twerking in the studio. Or the garden. Or the house. Or anywhere else for that matter.) 

I am enjoying this round with this subject much better than the first. I knocked down some trees, planted some others, pushed some to grow in a different direction and will be taking full advantage of my artistic license in the rest of the piece. 

Working to have this finished for the July Showcase along with the next painting in line- another bigger piece that I am soooooo looking forward to painting. 
I may or may not share the process on that one. Might just be selfish and keep it all to myself. Muahaha!

Old Gold


Old Gold
Oil on canvas 

Another oil piece. This one was challenging. It felt more like an architectural piece than a landscape. I do like the mesquites in the background. 

Texas Gold


I should remember titles and sizes. Really I should. But I don't. Know why? Because they don't matter past the sale of a painting. Weird, eh? 
A few years ago I noticed that paintings have had different names depending on where they were being sold, or when.  These were old school impressionist masters's works and the title wasn't set in stone, just kind of fudged from auction to auction.  

At first the realization that the names change from sale to sale took some of the pressure off of finding that perfect title, but then it turned into me not remembering most titles. Haha! Oh well. 

Anyhoo- this was a very different piece for me. South Texas oil country felt barren and bland compared to the Hill Country.
I ended up falling in love with the rust and the oddly gently swishing clicks and groans of the working pump jacks. It's very peaceful out there. 

I have yet to visit the area at night, or dusk. But looking forward to it!

Burning the midnight oil.


Midnight Oil
Uh... I can't remember the size. Smallish. 10x20 I think. 

Here's a little piece I started a while back. I liked the composition but it just wasn't working. The folks at the gallery gave me a great tip- have fun with it and turn it into a night painting! 

I did have fun! I even used one of the boys's toy tractors as a model for the one in the painting. Heehee! 

The greatest part of painting is letting go of the outcome. If it works, great. If not, great. The "failed" paintings give us a chance to try something new and different. And possibly break through a few mental blocks along the way. 

Every once in a while the results surprise us. 

How to un-crap a crapped out painting


How fun is that?!?!? Oh ya, baby, I'm talking demolition and instantaneous regrowth. My father-in-law came up with the title "The Lazarus Tree." Very fitting, I think, because it ties in beautifully with my first painting of this particular homestead which was titled "Recovering Oaks" and it's a bit of a giggler for anyone who knows about this painting's progress. It's Way Back Wednesday in Saraland so here is the first painting of this scene:Recovering Oaks24"x36"? (I can't remember...)2010My, how work does change. Artistic growth on top of different time of year and time of day make for some noticible differences. The oaks on the foreground of that 2010 painting were hit hard by oak wilt but had new growth- meaning they were not quite dead yet, just mostly dead. And apparently had already had a visit from Miracle Max (not to be confused with Miracle Mike) and were on their way to full recovery. Hence the title. I love live oaks. They blow raspberries at statistics and laugh in the face of death. Usually. Looks like the tree in the 2014 reference photo of this place is pretty much dead. Not just mostly dead like the oaks that recovered, but all the way dead like this year's firewood. It didn't occur to me to bring the tree back to life until those shriveled, scraggly branches made my Think Tank gag. The first time I finished this painting the whole thing was off. The stone building looked like a funky addition on the wood barn, and the weight of both threw the entire composition off. And then there were those bland, dead branches jutting out of nowhere. It's really no wonder I got a negative on this piece from the hubster, the first-grader, the toddler, AND the gallery. I cannot even begin to describe how gloriously fun it was to alter this painting! Take the expectations and need to succeed out of the equation and all of a sudden Joy jumps out with bells on her toes, a funny hat, and a "Ta-daaaaaa! did you miss me?" Yes. Yes, I did. I made up the tree and got the lighting figured while sitting at Soren's football practice. We are so lucky to live where we do! How many people get to stare at gorgeous bits of nature while parked next to the school's practice field? Something I didn't realize until today- the new owners of this property seem to have removed some fence that was around the barn. It was in both of my older pieces but only a teensy bit was left for this one. Interesting to see how things change. Here's a slightly cleaner image, but still not super fancy because it was taken with my phone:The Lazarus Tree36"x48"2014I like it. Peace out, homeskillet! I'm going to bed. [...]

Work In Progress


One of my favorite subjects. This time I took my reference photo first thing in the morning and I am loving it! Still need to make some adjustments on that sliver of light shooting across the grasses, but all in all, I like the basic structure. I have had to practice getting out of my own way on this one..... a lot!
Started getting frustrated with it last night because it wasn't going as fast as I wanted. Had to take a break and clear out the bad ju-ju. Haha! There always seems to be that point in a painting where everything looks like a jumbled mess and it feels like no progress is being made. Just got to keep going with the full intention of making some collector somewhere unvelievably happy with their newest painting. (Wink wink!) 

For really and truly, it's right on track and will be finished by Friday. I am hoping to get this one into the gallery before the October First Friday Art Walk. We will see!

I have no idea what I am painting next. Need to get on that!

Ms Sonia asks (round two)


Here's the finished piece from last timeSauer-Beckmann Barn15x30Now down to business, because Ms Sonia asked:"Where do I start?"Good question. You start by creating. If you are a painter, then paint. Writer? Write. You get the picture. It is way too easy to get caught up in all the "busy work." Social media marketing, fluffing up your website, drawing up new business cards… all have their purposes, but the important thing is the art. The rest of that stuff can wait. So forget everything else and obsess over your work. (Heck ya! Right!?!) From what i hear, galleries and collectors want to see consistency. Find your niche and run with it. Always look for ways to improve your current work and know that your next piece will be better than the one you just finished. That's a good thing! I avoid Facebook and twitter like the plague because they are total and utter time wasters- but blogging is a different animal altogether…. or it can be. About five years ago (I think) I started this blog to keep track of my personal/artistic growth. I was in a very dark place and needed some direction. I loved flipping through the daily painters's posts and seeing the progress they made over a six month (plus or minus) period. Progress is always good. Back then, I made a point to post frequent pics so I could go back later and see what worked and what didn't and possibly pinpoint where things went south. (Thats a habit I should really work myself back into) Often times, I would be able to see things I needed to change in the photo that I had overlooked while staring at the painting in front of me.  Knowing my online painting journal (this blog) was out there held me accountable. I HAD to paint as often as possible because I had to post a pic about what I had been doing. Motivation comes in all sorts of packages. And since you came to this blog and asked these questions on one of my posts, I know that you will get this- every time we advance personally, and we share what we have learned, we contribute to another person's well being. How awesome is that!?! I'm not saying that blogging about how lusciuos a particular brush stroke was today will end world hunger or anything, I am saying that every time we grow and we share our learning, others benefit because they can learn from our processes. We are all learners learning from the learned's learned  Haha! The great thing about a blog is that you aren't shoving your learning down some poor sod's throat- Its way easier to navigate to another page in the event of overwhelming boredom than to walk away from Aunt Mildred while she's in the middle of sharing every minute detail with you regarding doily construction. (Don't get me wrong, I love doilies. And tea cups. Old fashioned, delicate little tea cups that have long lost their set..... I digress.)Back to the questions!"How do I find places to show my work?"Look for galleries that show work in a style like yours. If you do abstract sculpture, don't waste your time on a gallery who shows only paintings in traditional realism. I'm really big on paying attention to the vibe of a place. So if you find yourself in a sweet gallery where your paintings would fit right in, look and listen. Do you click with the salespeople? Do you like the atmosphere? I have noticed that the folks at Whistle Pik (I'll use them as an example because they rock) always have wonderful things to say about their artists. They are helpful and kind to every person that walks through their door, even those who obviously can't afford to buy (speaking from personal experience, here). That's what you look for in a gallery. A good heart! I didn't start in a gallery, so here is another option. Many many moons ago, my aunt suggested I give Etsy a try, and a[...]

Ms Sonia asks: "How do I stay motivated when my hands are full?"


(Disclaimer!!!!! ---these are my personal experiences, opinions, and ramblings. You may or may not find them utterly useless. Either way, its all good.)  How do I stay motivated with a young child?Boy oh boy, is that ever a tough question! My answer:"I dunno."    I'm kidding! …sort ofAbout a month ago I would have answered that question with a lot of tears, a high-pitched maniacal laugh, and a big fat "YOU DONT!!!!!" But then hubby suggested we find a sitter we know and trust to take our highly energetic bundles of joy and entertain them for a few hours/days a week. Right now I am only utilizing one day a week but that one day makes all the difference in the world for me. I'm still not back to my productivity norm, but I'm getting there.Progress is always good! Little ones are a lot of work. And work (which includes art) is a lot of work. Being a wife, a cook, a boo-boo fixer, a personal assistant, a soccer mom, a scorpion killer, a maid, and every other bit that gets wrapped up into that SAHM (Stay At Home Mom) job title can really take a toll on your energy levels. It has taken me two children and almost seven years to finally catch on to this one most important universal super spectacular Truth…. are you ready for this?…. here it is:You HAVE to take care of yourself. There is a lot of fear and guilt wrapped up in parenthood (I'm not a good mom if I don't do this or that or if I let my children watch cartoons or eat hot dogs, yadda yadda yadda), but the truth is that our children are better off if we mommies are at our best. We are better mothers, wives, friends, and artists when we are on the top of our game. That does not happen when we are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually drained, dried-up, shriveled little husks of the spectacular human beings we once were. Its an easy trap to fall into. We just have to find our way around all the personal and societal expectations of who we should be and what we should be able to accomplish. All too often I think I am supposed to give everything I have without taking the time to refuel. Then I find myself standing on a box in the yard, screaming to the universe "I CAN'T DO IT ALL!!!!!!"The Universe already knows that. So does my husband (poor guy, haha!). But that's OK, it's therapy.So here it is.  Take some time to hang with the girls every once in a while. Meditate. (Some form of daily meditation/prayer will benefit you, your art, and everyone around you, so I highly highly HIGHLY recommend taking it up if you haven't already). Pass baby off to dad and go to a movie or read a good book in a bubble bath with a glass of wine, go for a run, make a gluten-free raw vegan cashew cacao cheesecake then eat the whole thing by yourself…  ahem… or whatever helps you feel rejuvenated. Creativity requires energy. Sometimes that means exercise, sometimes that means a nap. That's on you.Many women have caught on to the realities of "everything goes in cycles." Our monthly visit from Aunt Flo (sorry guys) is a prime example. Christiane Northrup, M.D. mentioned in one of her books (sorry, you'll have to find the reference on your own because I can't remember right now) that our creativity levels often ebb and flow with our menstrual cycle. Wild, eh? But I get it. I can almost pinpoint when I will have creative bursts so I try very hard not to freak out when I am in a slump. If that sounds like you, start paying attention to your own internal creativity clock and have everything set and ready to go for an artistic explosion when the time is ripe (but don't sit and wait for it). Better yet, have everything set and ready to go ALL the time so you can work at a second's notice. Even if you only have time for two brushstrokes, GREAT! That wou[...]



I got a nice little stretch of uninterrupted time to paint.

"How?" You might ask.

Great question!
I plopped my little guy into the Ergo baby carrier, did a little bit of house work until he fell asleep, then painted until he wet his diaper. Haha! (He does NOT like being wet.)

This is just a start and the photo was taken with my phone. Probably pretty grainy. But still! The last time I got that much done I had to ask family to come 45+ minutes out of their way to help. God bless them for coming, but I feel bad about asking people to do things I know are very inconvenient.

The painting:
Don't have a title for this one yet. Hubby, the boys, and I stopped at a farm on the way to Sisterdale a few weeks ago and got a load of wonderful reference photos. The landowners are wonderful people.

Finding balance


After having my second child I find myself having to learn how to balance mommy-hood and painting all over again (not that my mommy hood ever stopped after my first, its just so much easier to plop a five year old down with a bunch of legos while mommy paints than it is to do anything that requires two arms- or any amount of concentration- with an infant) I swear, the little guy has an alarm set to go off the minute I try to sneak in some work.
I have had my share of crying pity parties in the past few months, but in reality, I wouldn't change a thing. I love getting to spend so much time with my boys, even if it does interfere with my career for a short while. Children grow up so fast. It would be a shame not to enjoy the moment while it is there.
That said, it would also be a shame not to keep pushing on a career that has had such a great start! This is where the balancing act begins. I have been trying to figure out how to get enough time in the biggest blocks possible for painting and I think I may have found it. Tonight, I worked after everyone went to sleep. I used to work until three and four in the morning a few years ago. Starting to think late night painting is the way to go. I nap when baby naps anyway, so I will only be missing out on three or four hours of interrupted sleep at night.

Today I ruined a 24"x36" floral piece that has kind of been in the works for so long I can't remember when I started it. (There are a lot of things I don't remember these days.) No biggy. I had other, more promising reference photos lined up.

I got the other, more promising pieces sketched out tonight, all of which are hopefuls for the upcoming show at Whistle Pik Galleries in March. I'll post more about that soon...

Oh, and Happy New year, y'all!

Fawn-Deux, W.I.P.


This should be interesting. Wildlife are not necessarily in my niche, but the colors and shapes were awesome, so I just have to paint this lovely little pair my husband and I came across a few months ago.

We shall see how it turns out.

Increasing interest


My four year old has started showing increasing interest in painting lately, especially with my artist's oils (haha!). So he helped me prime some canvases today.

He was so keen on it, I barely had enough time to put the first on the porch (in the sun to help speed up the drying time) when he was well into priming the second.

Ahhhh, warms the cockles of my heart to see such a thing!



Years ago I had two separate painting styles. Sort of...

I had my whimsical pieces full of sea chickens and flying fish, and my first attempts at Plein air painting landscapes- what I called "serious" work. I chose to go the "serious" route because I needed to make a living. Luckily, I found myself falling more and more in love with landscapes and their ever changing beauty so I didn't feel the loss of that imaginative play that comes with the whimsical work.

My husband, Nick, (a king of country living and all things manly) said something the other day about my style being so different from most other landscape painters that I could paint the twin fawns we just saw and it wouldn't be like other wildlife pieces. I started looking closer at my work, trying to see what made it so different.

I was mulling over the two cattle ramp pieces I just finished, and my next painting adventure (this next one includes a bet and an odd sort of commission) when it hit me-
Quietly, over a relatively short period of time, the whimsy has found its way into my "serious" paintings. Or maybe it was always there and I just didn't see it. Or maybe it was trying to be there but can only come out when I let the painting paint itself.
However it got there, I'm glad it came. It's like seeing an old friend, and knowing the friend is here to stay.

Painting is such a lovely form of self exploration and discovery. The whimsy in my work is like that inner being that I am, always have been, and always will be. (The spirit. That part of us that is forever in contact with Infinite Intelligence.)
Sometimes I lose touch with my inner self and everything seems to fall apart. Then one day, something clicks and I see that everything I thought I had lost has been there the whole time.
How cool is that?

The piece in this post is one of my recent cattle ramp pieces. It'll be in Whistle Pik shortly. The other will make its debut at the November show.

(I apologize for the picture quality, I took it with my phone. I'll have a better image on my website later, and the gallery will have one when the piece goes in. If you would like purchasing information, feel free to contact Ms Mary or Ms Julie at Whistle Pik Galleries.)

Oil on canvas

Decisions, decisions... And painter's block.


My fabulous new brushes came in a while back and I adore them! Thank you Rosemary & Co!
My husband/business manager always says to work with the best materials you can afford. You can only go so far with crummy supplies.

That said, it is time to move on to a more pressing matter...

What to paint?
Oh dear Lord, this decision sometimes stops me in my tracks and leaves me boggled for what feels like an eternity.

I swear I have a million or more reference photos full of wonderful content but nothing is ringing a bell... yet. Ever have that issue?

I grumbled to myself for a few hours today about not knowing what to paint next when I remembered something oh-so-very-lovely!

One of my all time painting heroes, Kevin MacPherson, suggested in his book, Fill Your Oil Paintings With Light and Color,to make a scrap book of artwork you love for those times when you need a break or a touch of inspiration (p. 120).

I love to cut images from art magazines and paste them into my little inspiration book.

I have masters mingling with newbies, landscapes with figures. There is no particular rhyme or reason to my inspiration book other than every image pasted in it is a particular favorite of mine for some reason or another. And boy do I have a LOT of favorites! I find at least one or two in every art magazine.

What I love most is how everything in the "regular" world starts to look like a painting after absorbing my little clip art collection.

It's a wonderful exercise, and I have to remind myself to do it sometimes. Especially when I am stuck and frustrated.... Foaming at the mouth.

Moral of the story:
If you find yourself in Drabsville, immerse your senses in work you admire.

(It's all about focusing on the things you love rather than nitpicking about the things you don't. Attitude is everything!)

I posted a couple of images from my inspiration book. I'd tell you who the artists are if I had only written them down when I cut out the images... Hmm. Note to self: keep better notes.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen!


It's official. Some of my favorite brushes are shot. Sigh.
Goodbye soon, dear friends! I will scrub my canvas with your sweet little carcasses for just a little while longer.... Until your replacements come in. Muahahahaha!

Getting new brushes is like getting a fresh haircut, or a new wardrobe! My business manager made a very good point. From now on, I am to have three or four back-ups of the brushes I use most so I don't have to fight stray bristles while waiting on the postman to deliver reinforcements.

Makes sense. But then, that's why I pay him the big bucks. Hahaha! I'm so busy thinking about everything but the tools I work with that I back myself into a corner, surrounded by splay-ended brushes and empty paint tubes.

Moral of the story, folks....

Marry a business minded person and the creative process suddenly has a backup system!

A very wise man told me:
"Behind every good artists is someone who knows what they are doing!"

Hahaha! I love it!

Morning Fog


I can't stress enough how much I love where I live. This place has more variety than you could shake a stick at... But it all still fits.

We have been getting these gloriously foggy mornings lately and I got about a million reference photos to and from dropping Soren off at school last week. This is from my first batch of pics. I'd like to do some larger paintings like this, but am having a bit of a love/hate relationship with anything over a 5x7 right now. Which is not such a bad thing, since the gallery doesn't have many of my small pieces right now.

I like this one. It'll be in Whistle Pik as soon as it is dry!

Morning Fog
Oil on canvas panel

Painting and the Color Wheel


Mr Ronald asked me to expand on something I mentioned a while back about the color wheel and painting.

All too often, we look at an object and say, "this part is in shadow so I will use cool colors to define it, and I will use warm colors to define my highlights." or vise versa.... But! When you reeeeeaaaaally look at the colors within any particular shape and value, you will see amazing variations of reds, blues, yellows, and their combinations.
Colors reflect off of everything around a subject. Look for it. The biggest mistake every artist makes at one time in his or her life is the assumption that an orange is actually orange.

The more I look for slight variations within a color, the more colors I see. If I can do it, anyone can.

Does that help?

WIP- Gated Community


I was roaming around Mason County early one morning and came across this gorgeous little scene. I loved the lighting and the cacti growing unchecked behind the fence. My husband came up with the title. He is really good with titles, which is great because I am not.

I started this piece by doing a pretty detailed sketch on the red primed canvas, then laying in my shadow areas with varying thicknesses of "dark." Kind of feeling the urge to lay in the sky next to balance out some of that dark and help put things into perspective. Balance is everything!... And nothing all at once... We'll see how the work progresses over the next few days.




Another new addition to Whistle Pik Galleries, I painted this one in December from a reference photo of a homestead in the Tivydale area.

To me, this piece oozes summer breezes, buzzing insects, and the glorious smells of warm grasses and fresh earth.
I love summertime!

Oil on canvas panel

East Gate


I painted this little plein air piece at the opening for Whistle Pik's Fall Show 2011, and it finally made it's way into the gallery this month.

A fun painting, I loved all the reflected light on the brickwork and the glowing backlit leaves above the gate.

East Gate
Oil on canvas panel



We drew names for Christmas this year, and I got my mother-in-law's, Sylvia, in a round about sort of way.... Nick and I traded, Hahaha!
I went out to the folk's place a couple of times trying to get some reference photos of one of Sylvia's horses, but kept coming up with duds.
Then Nick mentioned Bo, who has been gone for years. Apparently, some lucky people get a "once in a lifetime" horse, and Bo was Sylvia's. So, we hung out one evening until Sylvia went to sleep and John, my father-in-law, and Nick started digging up picture after picture of Bo.
I chose two of this location in Missouri with John and Sylvia riding Bo and Jolie, and combined the subjects and background.

I like how it turned out!

Walkin' On Water
Oil on canvas panel