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  • Writer's pictureKathy Winkler Studio

Evolution of a Kathy Winkler Painting

The first thing I do is go through the hundreds of photos (digital) I have of the subject I have in mind and review them (sometimes there is only one to go by), and then sketch in what I think would work as the painting I have in mind. Then, I go about looking at different sizes of canvases I keep on hand and put each one up on my easel to evaluate whether I want a 11/2-inch gallery wrap or a ¾-inch canvas. I hold my photo up and look at the photo, then each canvas size I think would work. I settle on a canvas. I then lay the canvas out flat on brown butcher paper on a long working table. From there I open my gallon container of black gesso. I make sure the gesso is not too thick. If it is too thick, then I pour what I think I need into a container and add water until I get the right consistency. I take a four inch, very good springy paintbrush and proceed to paint the gesso on smoothly and evenly to the canvas and let it dry for a good 24 hours before I block in the background colors.

Take a look at the frames of the painting called “Battle of the Bulls”.

Frames 1 - 3: Next step is to paint a landscape type, i.e., use several neutral colors for the sky and ground, giving the feeling of a horizon if I choose to use it. This just gives me a basis for dreaming what I want to use to portray the animal(s) and to show them off in the best light. Then, I take a neutral brown (e.g., Burnt Umber) and dip my brush in a little water before I proceed with very little paint. Using the photo and my sketch, I decide how much I want to show of these bulls and what I want the viewer to focus on. I then indicate on the painting spatial allowances, i.e., the position of the two bulls, in this case. I mark on the canvas high points of the bulls, where I think their noses are, followed by the size of the heads from nose to top of head, then ears, necks, height of hump, shoulder to legs, length of legs, girth, etc. I mentally measure them for accuracy. It is more like a child’s dot-to-dot and drawing lines from point to point. It doesn’t take too much to correct what doesn’t look right if you use very little paint.

NOTE: Part of my accuracy is this. I know animals, having studied their anatomy, how their skin lies, how they move, how far they can move, what they do with their eyes, how they look at another member of their herd, social status, etc. You have to know every part of an animal, never caving in to what is not right. Having viewed, imagined and drawn animals for years while growing up, I have developed this understanding and developed these skills. I got to use these skills when I worked as a Contractor to the U.S. Navy, where I had to execute drawings to perfection. I started out doing engineering drawings and patent drawings, doing them over and over and over until I knew if something was a tiny fraction off. Little did I know this would benefit me down the road.

Frame 4-6: I blocked in the bulls as close as I could come to keeping my original drawings. If you look at the folds of the skin on the bull on the left, there were too many folds, I didn’t keep what I had, but had to keep feeling for accuracy between the base of the neck and the hump. You can always use something like that to your advantage, because there is a wonderful line here and there you can use, and a delicious, spontaneous color running into another color, i.e., blue, brown-gray, and Payne’s Gray, yellow ochre, Transparent red oxide. I painted over these delicious shades, letting them bleed through to the next layer of paint. Look at the additional frames and you can tell the subtle changes as the painting progresses to completion. Then, based on the final product, I name it in a way that describes the feeling that the painting presents.

I wanted the bulls to breath, to come alive. I hope I achieved that. Maybe that is left up to each viewer. These bulls were beautiful. Think of 4,000 lbs. between 2 bulls colliding in a “fun match.”

The final product: Battle of the Bulls


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