Category Archives: Uncategorized

Executive Portraits

Jim Allison, partner at Johnston, Allison and Hord, Attorneys at Law

I had the wonderful opportunity to paint Jim Allison’s portrait before he retired. I could tell from the folks I met at his firm that he is going to be missed!!

It’s not my preference to work from a photo that I have not taken, but I think it all worked out just fine. Jim has a great jovial spirit that I hope comes through in his portrait.

Enjoy your retirement Jim!!!


Zorn Color Chart

I’ve done a video for Youtube for my workshops and classes, detailing how to do a color chart using the Zorn Palette.  One of the components of it is using a value scale.  I couldn’t figure out how to include a pdf for the value scale in the video so I’m posting it here, hoping that you’ll be able to access it to help with your color chart.




Here’s the link for the video:

Have fun playing with these colors!!!


Zorn Portrait Workshop – Early Registration Savings

Dave and the Dogs

I think it’s pretty obvious that this is not an Alla Prima portrait — but it was done with the Zorn palette – white, yellow ochre, red and black.  

Talked to my partner in crime – Sarah Gay, manager of ClearWater Artists Studios and we decided to offered to waive the model fee for anyone who signs up  for the workshop by September 15th.

3-Day Intensive Workshop with Robin Wellner

Friday, Saturday and Sunday – October 6, 7 and 8, 2017 – 9:30am – 5pm

ClearWater Artist Studios, Concord, NC

$375, plus $50 model fee* per person

*waived if you sign up by September 15th

See more information on my blog or my teaching page at


Hope you can join us!!! In the meantime, Happy Painting!!!



Painting the Architect


Painting an Architect

The Architect, 24×28, oil/linen

What a treat and honor it was to paint this portrait!  This gentleman is an incredibly talented architect here in Charlotte.  I was lucky enough to paint both his daughters, and much to his wife’s surprise, he decided he wanted his portrait done.  There is no vanity involved here.  I think he’s just fascinated with portraiture.  He was gracious enough to also take the time to sit for me so that I could do color studies from life.  I’ve become so spoiled that I really resist painting from a photograph.  I am fascinated by the colors and subtleties of life!!!

Here’s the color study that I did from life.  Thanks to Chris Saper — one of the many things I learned from her was to keep swatches of the colors I use for various flesh tones on my study. So that’s what those colors on the side of the study are.

Portrait Color Study

Color Study for The Architect, 12×16, Oil/Linen

I learned another lesson during this process.  I decided to paint on an oversized canvas, so that I could crop later.  So many times when I’ve completed a painting, I wish that I could move something over a little.  So I decided to make sure I was happy with the final cropping.  Once I removed it from the stretchers though, it was another story!!!  Restretching a painted piece of linen is not easy!  I finally ended up taking it to a local framer and they did a beautiful job of restretching it.  

Can you tell I love painting people???  Grateful!!!



Thirty Paintings From Life in 30 Days

Happy New Year!  I’m trying to start it off with a bang!  Dottie Leatherwood got me inspired to do the 30 in 30 challenge and the Strada Easel challenge .  30 in 30 is daily painting for 30 days – starting January 1.  The Strada Easel challenge is to do those 30 paintings in 30 days — all from life.  So I’m “double-dutying” them.

It’s been a really rough Fall.  My husband has been in and out of the hospital since mid October, and of course his health is my top priority.  But it does mean I haven’t painted as much as I’d like.  So I’m hoping this challenge will help me jump start my new year.  We still don’t know what going on with him, but while they try and figure it out this will give me some sanity I hope.

So this morning I set up in our music room and did this interior. Painting in my pjs!  I lit this from above to show you the texture.  It’s not as light at the top as it looks here.

Here it begins – Day One of Thirty Paintings from Life in Thirty Days.  Happy New Year to you all!!

Morning in the Music Room






Portraits using the Zorn Palette

Model - blog
What do all these portraits have in common??  They were all done with the Zorn Palette.  Four colors – White, Black, Yellow Ochre and Red.  In a couple I introduced a bit of Ultramarine Blue to accommodate some of the clothing.

I’ve spent almost the last year using the Zorn palette every week when I paint from life.  I have found it very freeing and amazingly versatile. I’ve decided to do a workshop to share what I’ve learned and anything else I can share about doing portraits.  Hope you can join me!!!Holly-blog-1

We will cover measuring for accurate likenesses, values, color and learning to paint shapes rather than lines.  We will be working from life with a model each week.  The modeling fee is included in the workshop fee, but I do ask that if you take photos (if the model gives permission) that you tip him or her.

The workshop starts September 12th, 1:30-4pm and continuing each Monday for 6 weeks.  The cost is $300, which includes all modeling fees.  Maximum size for the class is 6 people.  I have 3 committed at this point. Deposit is 50% to hold your spot.

JadeIf you’re interested, please email me and I’ll send you any additional information about joining us.  It’ll be fun!  Of course painting is always fun in my opinion.  Happy painting!!


Painting Energy


“Percussion” Painting Energy

Thank you Jim Brock for your patience with me— taking pictures and posing while I tried to do you justice!  I’ve had so much fun with this piece.  I was not worried about doing a “likeness” – although I think it does look like him.  It is part of my “Musician Series” that I am slowly putting together.  Mapped out with a brush and finished completely with knife —  using only four colors!

The Zorn palette has been my go-to palette lately for portraits.  I’m constantly amazed at the range I can get with only four colors – especially since two of them are black and white!!! It’s quite freeing to limit my choices.  For those of you who are interested I’m using yellow ochre, Cadmium red medium, Mars black and Titanium white.  And for those of you who are really interested, I’ll be teaching a class on painting the portrait from life using the Zorn palette.  It starts on September 12 as a six week class.  It will be a small class — maximum 6 people. Right now I have 3 spots left. Please let me know if you’d like more information.

I worked from photographs in “Percussion”.  I had to pull the hands from two different photos to get a composition that I was happy with.  Because of the knifing,  there’s quite a bit of texture on this piece – which doesn’t register very well in the reproduction.  There are broken edges throughout the painting, but I wanted the emphasis on the broken edges around his hands to bring your eyes there.  Hoping that it will also give you a sense of the amazing energy that comes when Jim Brock plays percussion.  He’s quite amazing!  And sometimes it’s not just drums — it’s an assortment of percussion pieces—some are designed for that purpose and some are incorporated through Jim’s incredible creativity.  I’m hoping to reach a level of mastery that Mr. Brock brings to his music in my painting one of these days.

Painting the energy of the music, rhythm and the people is my goal with “Percussion” and my musician series. Hoping they will push some visual energy into the rooms they occupy while the music keeps playing….


Hanah from Life

Hanah from Life

Hanah from Life

Recently had the opportunity to paint one of my favorite people – Hanah – from life.  I love our little painting group.  We hire a model virtually every week and paint from life.  We paint for three hours – 20 minutes then hopefully a 5 minute break if we don’t get too chatty.  It is probably one of the best things I’ve done for my learning in painting.  Seeing those colors in people’s faces that you only see from real life.  Photos just don’t do it!  And I know I’m prejudiced, but to me there is something magical about capturing someone on canvas.  Someone described it as “capturing their soul”.  Don’t know if I’d go that far, but I still think it’s special.

In addition to the wondrous opportunity to paint from life, there is a wonderful camaraderie between our little group of painters.  We share our latest tricks, gadgets and ideas.  We critique each other’s paintings — always with kind intentions — because we are there to grow and learn.  And sometimes we just can’t see where we’re off.  It’s so helpful to get that feedback.  It seems we all have areas that we are blind to.  For instance, I invariably make everyone’s chins too short.

Sometimes I’ll take these back and complete them with the photo I take.  In Hanah’s case, I have not done anything additional.  Haven’t decided yet whether I will.  Sometimes I like the freshness of the painting, even if everything is not perfect.

The last few sessions, I’ve been experimenting with the Zorn palette: yellow ochre, cadmium red medium and Mars black – and white of course.  I love it!  With this piece of Hanah, I did add a little Ultramarine Blue to get that color in her shirt.  I recently completed a much large painting – 30×40- completely with the Zorn palette — I will show you that soon.

Should any of you be so inclined, please let me know if you’d like to model.  We’re always looking for new faces!  We provide chocolate, coffee and friendly conversation — as well as payment of course!

Thank you Hanah for allowing us to paint you from life!!!  It was an honor and a privilege!



Happy New Year!

Harmonica Mark Finalist in 2015 Richeson Portrait/Figure show

Harmonica Mark
Finalist in 2015 Richeson Portrait/Figure show   –  Carolinas Got Art Show at the Elder Gallery

Happy New Year!! I have so many mixed feelings this time of year.  Holidays are fun, but so distracting that I feel I have to completely regroup to get back to some sense of normalcy.  So I’m slowly getting back on track.

I had an amazing 2015.  It was the first year that I really tried to enter some shows and  had great results.  All of this happened in 2015!!!

  •  Finalist in the American Woman Artists National Juried 2015 Show at Bonner David Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona.
  • Selected as one of 30 artists to participate in the 2015 Piedmont Paint Out in High Point, NC.  Received “Artists’ Choice Award”
  • Finalist in the Richeson75 Figure and Portrait Show 2015
  • 2 Honorable Mentions in the Guild of Charlotte Artists, 2015
  •  Honorable Mention, “Colton’s Choice” award and “People’s Choice” award in the Matthews Art Guild, 2015 – Matthews Alive Festival
  • Finalist and Award of Merit in the 2015 Spring Online Show for the American Women Artists
  • Selected for the Carolina’s Got Art Show at the Elder Gallery, June 2015

Kalvin, Portrait of a Young Man  AWA National Juried Show, Award of Merit

Kalvin, Portrait of a Young Man
AWA National Juried Show, Award of Merit

I love painting people, but up until now I’ve pretty much stuck to portraits.  To make a living at that though I need to really market myself as a portrait painter.  So that is part of my next step I believe.  Also I’d like to take that passion for painting people into some figurative paintings that aren’t so “face specific”.  I’m hoping to do that some with my musician paintings.  So far I’ve pretty much focused on their faces, except for “Harmonica Mark”.  I’m doing studies that are recognizable, but thinking in the bigger paintings that I’ll try to take them to a more abstracted direction.  All musings at this point until I make it happen.

Artists' Choice Award, Piedmont Paint Out

Artists’ Choice Award, Piedmont Paint Out

Also love the balance of my plein air paintings.  So that will be another part of the puzzle. Hoping to do some larger paintings to appeal to some galleries.  It seems most are not as interested in the small 8×10 or 11×14’s that we typically do as plein air painters.

The other big nemesis for me is the marketing part.  If I had my druthers, I’d just paint.  But it’s crucial to get your name out there to reach potential clients and galleries.  So that’s probably the biggest piece of the puzzle for me this year.  Putting together a plan that helps me accomplish that.

oil portrait young black woman

“Lucci” People’s Choice Award at the Matthews Alive Festival

Any ideas, suggestions welcomed!!!  Once again Happy New Year to you all!  I hope that 2016 is a wonderful one for you and yours!!


New at Plein Air Events

Photo taken in the back seat of my car!

Photo taken in the back seat of my car!

I am new at Plein Air events!  I just finished doing the Piedmont Plein Air Paint Out — also known as P3 (much easier to type!)  It was a wonderful event!!!  I felt so taken care of — beautiful hotel, treated with tender loving care, and amazing artists to hang out with — when we weren’t painting!  I was humbled and thrilled to get the “Artists’ Choice Award” — voted on by the participating artists. Yay!  I also sold three paintings!!  Hoping to go back next year!!

The real point of this article though, was to help some other “newbies” who are just starting to participate in plein air events.  I’ve only done two so far and I’ve realized I have a lot to learn — not only in my paintings, but in all the other aspects of these events.  I even googled “hints for plein air events” to try and get some ideas, but found nothing.

As you can see from the photo above, hint number one is:

Take decent photos of all your paintings!

I was so involved in getting them framed, etc. that all I have are the crude ones you see.  Apparently I didn’t anticipate that I’d actually sell some!!  So this one is gone and these are the photos I have.

Luckily I brought plenty of canvases and frames, but I know some folks did not, so I would recommend bringing more than you think you’ll need.  And throw in a few different sizes.  This painting is a size I don’t normally paint in but it was perfect for this design.  So hint number 2 is:

Bring more canvases and frames than you think you’ll need.

Part of these events is that you have to frame your wet paintings and have them ready to hang. So if you’re not versed in this skill, I would recommend that you practice before you go.  Also prepare a “tool kit” of all you’ll need to frame. So Hint number 3 is:

Know how to frame your pieces and bring a tool kit of everything you need to do that.

You’re under a time restraint in these events.  If at all possible arrive early so you have time to preview all your potential sites so you can make a game plan.  Plan to bring a cooler so you have plenty of water and snacks while you’re painting. Make sure you’ve brought comfortable painting clothes, with options for all kinds of weather. Hint number 4:

Preparation! Preview! Planning for your comfort while you’re painting!

Part of these events is social time with your potential clients.  Make sure you’ve brought adequate business cards and perhaps a bio about yourself.  You should attach this information to the back of your paintings so your buyer knows something about you and could contact you in the future for additional work.  And be prepared to hobnob with people looking at your work.  Ask questions, be friendly, shake hands.  You’ll have a name tag provided by the event – WEAR IT!! (I forgot mine a number of times!) Hint Number 5:

Make it easy for potential buyers to know who you are and something about your work!

It’s such a fun opportunity!  In your off time there are lots of opportunities to meet other artists and talk shop.  I was so overwhelmed at the talent of the P3 event.  It was intimidating!  But I found that all of them were warm, wonderful people!  I feel like I have a whole new group of great friends as a result!

My Ribbon!!!

My Ribbon!!!

Here are a few of the other pieces I did while I was there.

"Morning Light" 8x10 oil

“Morning Light” 8×10 oil

"Carolyn's Back Porch" 8x10 Oil

“Carolyn’s Back Porch” 8×10 Oil

"City Lake Clouds"

“City Lake Clouds”

Hope some of this was helpful!  I was pretty nervous going into this last event since I’m so new at them.  Hoping some of these hints will help another artist prepare and feel more confident going into one.  Happy painting!!!