Our Newest Family Member

I know this is a blogger taboo to say, but I assure you I have a perfectly reasonable explanation for my year long absence and I can some it up in three words: Inness Berkeley Sours.

Everybody loves a baby!


Last year around this time I found out I was pregnant. I did not handle pregnancy well. I have never experienced such exhaustion and it was all I could do to muster up the energy to shower before crawling back to bed for the day.

Bicycle IIBlog

Needless to say I didn’t get much art done. It was hard and I took it as a personal failure. Looking back I’m reminding myself that this is a phase of life and to not be so hard on myself (easier said than done!). But now I am slowly getting back into the swing of things with a beautiful giggly four month little girl in tow (and those arduous nine months are far in the past).

Meg Inness Drawing

Inness, being the daughter of two artists, was befittingly named after an artist (surprise, surprise) an American landscape painter named George Inness.


George Inness was a tonalist painter in the 19th century who used a restricted color scheme to evoke mood and luminosity. He was very spiritual and believed there was a connection between nature and God. He said, “The true use of art is, first, to cultivate the artist’s own spiritual nature.” It is rumored that, just before he died, he was marveling at a sunset when he cried out to God how beautiful it was before collapsing and passing away.

2 George Inness (1825-1894) The Trout Brook 1891

Before Inness was born, a dear family asked if we were naming her after W.B. Yeats’ poem. I had never read it before and fell in love with Yeats’ lyrical descriptions of his childhood escape to an Irish cabin.

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made: Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee; And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


As a gift, one of the daughters in the family painted a beautiful set of three paintings featuring the words to Yeats’ poem. She endearingly changed the spelling to “Innessfree.”

It’s been fun surrounding our little girl with original art. There’s something special about knowing a unique set of hands carefully and lovingly crafted the work, giving it life and telling a story.

Here’s a set of gold foil prints Bryan and I purchased for the nursery made by a local Utah artist.

Gold Prints Blog

And what better reason to have a kiddo than to have a perpetual model? And for FREE!

Inness Study Blog

Of course she only holds still like, never. And falls asleep on the job. But then only sleeps for fifteen to twenty minutes tops. And never stops eating. And bosses me around. All the time.

I guess you get what you pay for.


Painter’s Polka

Here at the Whitaker Studio we started a new live model session. Bill has always been open sharing everything he knows and seized the opportunity to demonstrate some key painting points:

1. Don’t begin a painting by drawing in the lines, because they will become “Holy Writ.” In other words, we as artists tend to grow very fond of the things we draw. We smugly pat ourselves on the back after rendering The Most Perfect Eye Ever Drawn In the Entire Universe even though it was drawn in the wrong place. We will then proceed to create an entire drawing on a poor foundation until the whole thing falls apart (but hey! Splendid eyeball, remember?). If you drew it once, you can draw it again. I used to feel like a failure if I didn’t get the drawing perfect on the first round. Now, I wipe it down and start over like a boss (okay. Maybe the third time around I start to feel a tingle of Woeisme Syndrome). When beginning a painting Bill suggests blocking in big shapes with a big brush. Use patches of color and value to draw.

2. Paint against the form. Marks should be measured, but also fresh and unexpected. And don’t blend the life out of it. Let some of those swishy, scratchy marks show.

3. Use thin washes of dirty color when laying in the drawing. Then use thick patches of clean color to build the form. This is an old master’s trick.

4. Move around! Don’t aimlessly noodle one spot. Paint with purpose. Move around the form. It’s also important to move in front of the easel, or do the “Painter’s Dance.” Bill calls it the “Painter’s Polka.” He says this is how he gets his daily exercise.

Here’s the completed demo. This was rendered in less than thirty minutes. In the bottom left corner Bill illustrated a boring “Barn Door Painter,” and then showed how marks should be painted.

Bill also discussed not getting caught up in details too soon. He says this is much easier for guys. Girls, on the other hand, just love to get in there and noodle eyelashes. Each mark was made to give the impression of the form, knowing full well it may or may not need altered.

Here’s the palette Bill used: Ivory Black, Raw Umber, Transparent Red Oxide, Asphaltum, Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, Alizarin Crimson, Terra Verte, Ultramarine Blue, and Lead White.

After the demo, it was our turn. Here’s my setup. Our beautiful model, Rachelle, is in the background. This was rendered in the first twenty minute session.

Here’s Brendan’s setup, an absurdly talented student of the Whitaker Studio.

During break, I snapped a couple more photos of Bill’s studio.

Here’s a detail shot of my current favorite Bill Whitaker painting. Obviously the photo doesn’t do it justice. In life you can see the luminous depth of her skin. He truly is the master of skin tones.

Painting with north light is ideal as the light is constant and does not fluctuate throughout the day.

Brendan using clean patches of color.

Here’s where I stopped at the conclusion of the day.

Rather than wait on the edge of your seat for this painting’s update, get up and do the Painter’s Polka.

Being Really Ridiculously Good Looking

Bill has been working on a series of Civil War paintings. There was one painting in particular, however, he wasn’t satisfied with and decided the face needed to be redone. Since my husband, Bryan, has the gaunt and rugged look Bill was searching for, he asked Bryan to pose for a mini photo shoot on Friday.

Here you can see the original reference on the computer screen.

I asked Bill if I could take a couple of photos of his gorgeous studio. Here is a collection of some of his paintings over the years.

Bill has a vast collection of props and war artifacts and reproductions to peruse. He often dons one of the hats, as seen on the mantel, while he paints.

When the photo shoot was over, Bill and Bryan studied the photos.

The photos were acceptable, but they would have been brilliant if Bryan had incorporated Blue Steel.

I’ll be sure to post the painting when it is complete! In the meantime, Bryan will be opening Utah’s own Center For Children Who Can’t Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too. The core of the curriculum will be teaching that there is more to life than being really, really ridiculously good-looking.