Thursday, January 23, 2014

Horsing Around: Soukup Demo

Art Jill Soukup demonstrates her approach to painting a buffalo in oil.
Thankfully, I’m back in the studio and feeling fantastic after some travel and being quite under the weather from said travel.  I always miss being away from my easel (it’s my anchor) jumping back in to studio work can be like diving into icy pond. 

This past weekend though I got an almost instant energy and inspiration boost from attending a demo by one of my all-time favorite painters.

If you’re lucky during your art life you discover other “aspiration artists.” These artists can really help keep you motivated. You just know this will be an artist you’ll happily follow for years to come. You can’t wait to see their next show and what they’re working on.

For me that artist is Denver representational oil painter Jill Soukup known for her fantastic equine paintings as well as her buffalos and urban scenes.  (I’ve been lucky enough to take a few classes with Jill and she’s also a talented and insightful instructor.)
Jill Soukup Equine Painting
Over this past weekend, I attended Jill’s demo at Saks Gallery in Denver where she currently has a nearly sold out one woman show.  (As nice as the paintings look on camera, they are even more impressive in person.)

Her demos are always fascinating--She often layers the paint (for example an earthy yellow green over a warm dull orange red) using a variety of tools including hefty well-worn brushes, large hardware style putty knives, etc. 
Jill "drags" a cooler cool blue over a warmer area with a putty knife.
Jill's brushes (many large or with very long handles) and other painting tools.

Interestingly, as you can see, Jill uses a variety of references for her paintings: A photo with more detail in the lights, one for the darks, a black/white value photo and sometimes several small color thumbnails where she tries different color options. In this case, she had decided to push the greens in the background of this wonderful buffalo portrait.

Detail of buffalo side of head--note the large textural planes of oil paint.
Jill Soukup oil painting palette--When asked she said her favorite color is that yellow green.
Finally, I'll be back soon with some abstracts I've been working on for Leslie's 30 in 30 January Challenge. Yes, I know only 7 days to go but better late than never!


  1. Thanks for sharing your photos of Jill's demo. I'm wondering if she uses any mediums. I'm amazed at the wonderful texture of her strokes. Does she use cold wax?

  2. Hi Donna,
    My pleasure--Yes for her "wetter" or "looser" medium I believe she was using a stand oil and mineral spirit mix. She did not use the cold wax in this demo but did mention once (in a previous demo I've attended) that she's tried it. Typically though I think the texture you see is a lot of paint layers--some wet over wet and some dragged as broken color dry over dry. I agree her paint quality is really amazing. Thanks for stopping by and happy painting-Aimee

  3. Thanks Scarlet I appreciate the reply.