Lose the Earth Tones for Better Color

$950 – 18″x24″

I have recently discovered something when it comes to paints and pigments and the colors that artists insist are needed. I was always told to avoid black, always use yellow ocher, and burnt sienna, and burnt umber was optional as it was a dead color. I didn’t question, and why would I? Far better artists than I use these colors, so I went with the flow.

A few months back, as I was experimenting with limited palettes at my Friday morning portrait group, I discovered using only bright colors, without any earth tones, and I was surprised to find I could mix all sorts of browns and grays and actually achieve much more vibrant colors. The palette is as follows: White, yellow medium, cad orange, quin magenta (or alizarin), prussian blue, cerulean, viridian, chrome oxide. I call it the “skittles palette”. For browns, I mix orange and prussian blue, the color is very rich and I can push it warmer red or darker blue to almost black if I add magenta. For this painting I brushed it all in very loosely and finished it in 3-4 sittings. I liked how this turned out and will continue on with this color palette for a while.


Using Big Brushes for Small Details

Today I painted from life, and as usual, I like to experiment in my sketchbook. After all, that’s what the sketchbook is for, to put down thoughts, experiment and grow as an artist. I have been pushing myself to use bigger brushes, bolder strokes, and brighter colors. Stand as I paint, charge the canvas and make each stroke count. So today I stood back quite a bit as I painted from life, and my palette was very bright, consisting of lemon yellow, cad orange, cad red lt., quin magenta, pthalo blue, and emerald green plus, plus white.

I have been reading. A lot. More than just looking at the art of the great painters, but trying to understand what they thought and saw in order to paint a picture. Harvey Dunn, a great painter and teacher, was never one of my top favorites as his brushwork wasn’t super slick, but as I get a little bit older I’m understanding his genius. Here is some of his wisdom.

“Paint a little less of the facts, and a little more of the spirit. Look a little at the model and a lot inside. Paint more with feeling than with thought.”

As I started I was wondering if this palette of “skittles” colors was going to be to over powering, but as I remembered my grays and brown mixtures, and kept my brushes separate, I was actually surprised at the result.

The colors tend to have an outdoor feel, much brighter, and as I painted I stood back, and tried not to allow myself to get a small brush and start painting tiny details but instead capture the spirit of the model.

Dunn had another saying when trying to convince students to use larger brushes.

“Use a big brush for the face and hands — you can get a finer line with an inch wide brush than you can with a tiny hair. And little ones for the sky. It sounds funny but try it.”

I learned a lot today, about color and using larger brushes and capturing the spirit of the subject, and not just thefacts.




9″x12″ Oil on Sketchbook




Painting a Mermaid Lagoon

I just finished this 24″ x 36″ oil on canvas this week and I thought I would share some of what I learned along the way. I painted this piece from imagination, meaning I had no reference so I got to just make it up as I go and it’s a lot of fun to paint that way.

First, a lot of rich color can come from subtle grays and browns. I remember a quote by the illustrator, Dean Cornwell, “A great colorist is known for their grays just as a chef is known for their gravies and sauces. The grays are the sauces that flavor all the other colors on the canvas.”

The sky was layer upon layer upon layer, because I wanted to give the feeling of real depth, not just a two dimensional flat space on the canvas. After that, the light pours in and influences everything around it. Prints of this image are available by clicking here, and be sure to follow me on Instagram @kyle_henry_art to see latest updates on my art journey.      -Kyle


$3700 -24″x 36″


New Bible Art Oil Painting

I enjoyed creating this oil on canvas illustration for a church bulletin publisher. I have always liked the work of Warner Sallman and I really wanted to create a painting that had the feel of an old painting, and I remember as a child at church I would look at those paintings. In this scene, Christ heals the woman with the affliction on her back. Many of the old illustrations show Christ standing, in a position of teacher, or authority. Wouldn’t it have been something had Jesus shocked everyone and knelt before this woman to show her she was loved. After all she probably had trouble even looking up.

Set Free

Getting a Likeness in Portraits

The key to getting a likeness in a portrait is not worrying about the likeness at first, but the overall gesture. Let me explain. If we as artists  get bogged down with the feature shape and placement, such as eyes, nose and mouth too early, we will drive ourselves bonkers trying to fit it all together like some sort of puzzle. I know I have spent countless hours noodling with an eye or nose and end up just pushing paint around a canvas and still telling myself, “there’s something just not right’.




By seeing past the features early on, and only looking at the shape of the head, the bigger shapes, the subject comes to life right before us. Then, it’s a matter of assessing, and correcting and zeroing in. This portrait study done in my sketchbook, I used only black, white, and venetian red oils as I am continuing to explore different limited palettes. I don’t begin with any drawing or line work but am only concerned with form. Hope this helps and happy painting! 


“Kindle” 8″x10″ oil


Quick Sketching from Life

I decided to do something out of my typical oil painting today and instead drew from my sketchbook in charcoal. I moved around to a few different spots, often times peering around other artists working to get a view of the model. A great drawing exercise. Be sure to follow me on instagram @kyledouglashenry to follow my latest work. Have a great weekend!

Speed Painting Oil Portrait from Life




Here is about an hour of painting in less than a minute. Paints used: Titanium white, Ivory Black, Venetian Red. (Cobalt Blue brought in during last 10 minutes of painting). I am enjoying the painterly process, and exploring limited palettes. Not my best painting, but a great learning experience.

Painting a River Landscape

30″x40″ OIl on Canvas

I have always been enjoyed visiting a state park up in the Northwest corner of Arkansas called Devil’s Den. The rocks lining the river for miles and the only sounds are the birds and flowing water. I wanted to paint a fairly large picture that captures the tranquility of this special place.

Sorting through some of my photo reference, I start sketching some ideas. I think it might be fun to add a bear so I look for a reference and do a sketch of that too.

The photo reference of the creek is just for information only. I am not interested in copying this photo as it does not have the emotion that I want. An early morning might be more interesting.

First step is to very loosely block-in the overall painting with the basic colors using a large brush. After I allow this to dry for a few days, I am ready to begin  the finished painting, from back to front.

I work on the sky and then the mountains, refining the shapes and drawing as I go with the paint, and always stepping back and taking the whole picture in and making sure it works well from a distance.

The painting up to this point has the look of a dry creek bed, because I will have to lay in the rocks and then apply the lights of the water to achieve the look of clear water. The thickest paint is applied last and will reflect the light shown on it when it hangs on the wall for a nice effect.

Here you can see it all framed up and on the wall. I look forward to enjoying this a few months before it travels to an art show. If you like this painting you may want to check out my instagram by clicking here