Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Back to Studio with a New Oil Painting

Last month it was extremely hot in the studio, so I tried working during late hours and I put more time on online marketing. I guess my hard work paid off and I made a few sales! Now my ETSY Shop rating has 5 stars, thanks to my wonderful collectors.

"Girl reading in Central Park" by Birsen Ozbilge
6" x 8,75", oil on wood panel, 2013

Last week, I worked on a small oil painting. I got inspired by the subject of "book reading". I used to have lunch breaks in Central Park, New York, while I was working at The Frick Museum. This painting brings back those good memories...   

work in progress


"Lunch break" by Birsen Ozbilge
Oil on canvas, 7" x 9.5" (18 x 24 cm.)
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The original artwork is available to purchase, click on Artmajeur
Reproduction print is available to purchase, click on ETSY

Friday, June 23, 2017

Plein air painting from Tenerife

Gran Canaria above the clouds

Plein air travel kit for the flight

Last week I flew with my plein air art materials to our neighbor island Tenerife. Before the trip I did my research about how to pack these materials according to the airline company's rules. So, we checked the tools, watercolors and oil pastels with the wooden box into the luggage. I was able to take the portable easel with me without checking it but they had to hold it until we land. At the end everything arrived safely. Same way, I had no problem on the way back. 

Working with oil pastels

Gran Canaria above the clouds, Oil pastel on blue pastel paper

When we arrived the weather in Tenerife was great, you could see Gran Canaria very clear. Generally this is a sign that the following days rain might come... Anyways, I took advantage of this beautiful and rare occasion to paint with oil pastels (see above).
Work in progress

Casa de "La finca", watercolor on paper

The following days were cloudy and rainy as we were expecting... But I had the chance to paint outside with watercolors (see above). When it was rainy outside, I did drawings looking out from the window (see below).

drawing from the sketchbook

drawing from the sketchbook

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Painting is my bread and butter

“Self-Portrait” by Anders Zorn, for the Uffizi Gallery. 1889

Lately I was doing research about Anders Leonard Zorn, Sweden's most celebrated master painter and his painting technique. I watched a few documentaries and read about his life, which was quite interesting, so I would like to share with you a little bit of that... Zorn was born in 1860 in Mora, Sweden. He studied at Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm. He was planned to become a sculptor but his talent on painting changed everything on his career, so he became a very famous portrait artist, in the same league as Joaquín Sorolla and John Singer Sargent. He painted three US presidents and many wealthy people, for a total of 550 portrait paintings. Besides painting with oils, he was actually a watercolor master. He created 300 etchings and some bronze sculptures as well. After his death in 1920, his wife donated all his artworks to the Swedish government and founded Zorn Museum in Mora, Sweden.

Zorn palette has very limited colors, including cadmium red, yellow ochre, ivory black and titanium white. In addition to this colors he used very small amount of blue and green, only when needed. Also alternated them with red and black variations. I prepared a chart with these colors to see the possibilities. I found incredible that there were so many warm and cool tones and these are great for portraits, still-life and landscape paintings (see pic below).

work in progress

After studying "Zorn Palette" I was ready to set my still-life composition. This time my main objects were bread, butter and butter knife. "Bread and butter" means; something that provides you with regular income, your job basically... It's symbolic way to express myself as a painter.

I toned the wood panel with acrylic blue color. I started to paint the structure of the composition with a dark tone color and laid the mid tones inside first. I created three sections of background using black, yellow ochre and white mixtures. Practicing "Alla Prima" oil painting technique I added darks and the highlights at the end (see pic below). 

work in progress

"Bread and butter" by Birsen Ozbilge
7" x 6", oil on wood panel.
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Friday, April 28, 2017

New Multicolor Linocut Print

Printed the first four pieces

These days I was busy with a Multicolor Linocut design. A succulent from cactus family and a frog are its main objects. This is the second design with colors in this series. After transferring the design on the lino sheet, I cut out each lino block to print with different colors. I needed to run a few test prints first and I decided to relocate the frog image moving it down by the water falling design area (see pics below). I hope you enjoy seeing the process... If you have any input or questions, please feel free to leave your comments below. Have a great weekend!  

work in progress

work in progress

Final color printed
"Frog by succulent" by Birsen Ozbilge, 
Original Handmade Multicolor Linocut Print
Paper size 6" x 8" ( 15 x 20 cm.)
Image size 5" x 5" (12 x 12 cm.)
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Monday, April 10, 2017

Studio upgrade

I have finally completed the spring studio cleaning. My studio has two new slim display shelves for showcasing small-format artworks (see pic below). The new look of the studio is much better now. It will be very useful this way, especially when I need to show my artworks to studio visitors. Also, this will be my studio exhibition for open studio visits.

 New  display shelves with linocut print and oil pastel artworks

If you are not connected to social networks you may have not realized that recently I shared an exhibition news. A few weeks ago my painting "Daydream" was selected to be part of a collective exhibition along with 33 other artworks by 31 women artists from ULPGC Art Collection (see pic below). The collective exhibition "Mujeres y Creación" was curated by Diana Fernández Romero. I had the chance to attend the opening and had the honor to meet with her in person. 

Visitors staring at my painting 

Last week I created a new cactus linocut print (see pic below): "Ladybug on a cactus". This is the fifth one in this series. Each cactus is associated with an animal from wild nature. If you remember, the previous ones were with; a butterfly, a bird, a lizard, and a snail (see pic below). Maybe the next one will be with a bee or a spider... If you have any suggestions, let me know. Have a nice week!


"Ladybug on cactus" by Birsen Ozbilge, 
Original Handmade Linocut Print
Paper size 6.5" x 9" (17 x 22 cm.)
Image size 4" x 6" (10 x 15 cm.)
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Monday, March 13, 2017

New Oil Pastel Artwork: Still-life with Tiger Mug and Oranges

"Child archer", oil on canvas,126 x 126 cm, (1912-1913) 
by Néstor Martín Fernandéz de la Torre, 
Mapfre Guanarteme Foundation Collection.

Last week I visited a collective exhibition: "Espacios de Arte: Colección Fundación MAPFRE Guanarteme" in Las Palmas City. I was very happy to see another beautiful painting of Néstor Martín-Fernández, my favorite Canarian painter (see pic above). The collective exhibition was held as part of Mapfre's private collection, such famous Canarian artists; Manolo Millares, Martín Chirino, Pedro González, Emilio Machado, Rafael Monagas, Tony Gallardo, Lola Massieu, Miró Mainou and Jane Millares. It's a great chance if you want to see really good artworks by famous local artists. It can be seeing til May 15th at Mapfre's art gallery in Vegueta, very close to Plaza de Santa Ana (calle Juan de Quesada, 10. Visiting hours: Monday to Friday 10:00-13:00 and 18:00-21:00).

Work in progress

At the studio I was working on a new still-life oil pastel piece. This time the main object was a ceramic tiger mug that I bought recently from Zara Home shop. This mug looked really nice with the paint brushes in. After playing around with it and thinking about the composition for a while, finally I placed it into a small vintage leather suitcase. Over the years I had a few tiny vintage suitcases for my outdoor paintings. During the collage years I used to carry one of these with my oil pastels everywhere I went, I love them! Inside the suitcase I added a few oranges with a purple scarf, and both a paint tube and a sketchbook in the pockets. I used acid-free heavy-weight craft paper with Sakura Cray Pas Expressionist oil pastels. Enjoy it and have a great week!


"Still-life with tiger mug and oranges" by Birsen Ozbilge, 2017
(Click on image to see in better quality)
11" x 8" (29 x 20 cm) Sakura Cray Pas Expressionist oil pastels on 
Acid-free heavy-weight craft paper.
Available, click on SHOP

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Monday, February 27, 2017

A Collaborative Portrait Project and Interview with Artist Dana Payne Saunders

Last Friday I visited "Grabados de Rembrandt" exhibition at Casa de Colon in Las Palmas City. It was absolutely marvelous! There were 16 pieces of engravings of Rembrandt which belong to the museum collection. Since I knew they were very tiny pieces, I brought my magnifier to see in more detail (see pic below). If you would like to see some master pieces of artworks, I`d say don't miss this one. The exhibition can be seen til the 5th of March. (Mon-Fri 10:00-21:00, Saturday 10:00-18:00, Sunday and Holidays 10:00-15:00)

Enjoying the details

Adam and Eve by Rembrandt, 1638, etching on paper

About a month ago on a social network group related to oil pastels, I posted a picture of my oil pastel materials asking to learn more about what other brands were popular. This was a good chance to meet with other oil pastel artists and learn new things from their experiences. During the conversations, I met an LA-based artist, Dana Payne Saunders (see pic below). Her oil pastel artworks are beautifully created with black contours and bright colors which reminded me style of “Die Brücke” (The Bridge), a group of German expressionist artists. Well, after seeing each other's works, we found out that we have a lot in common. It was quite spontaneous. Later I offered her if she would like to collaborate with me for an oil pastel project, which was the idea of painting each other's portraits. I have a great time working on her portrait artwork and also it was a pleasure to meet with a wonderful and talented artist. Let me introduce her to you with this charming interview.

Dana Payne Saunders at her studio

Birsen Ozbilge: Welcome Dana, thank you very much for taking the time for the interview. Tell us about yourself, how long have you been painting for?

Dana Payne Saunders: Hi Birsen. Thanks for talking to me and especially for our recent collaboration.  I’ve been painting since around 2010.  I doodled and enjoyed art when I was young, but it wasn’t until after my son left for college that I felt I had the time to explore art on a more intimate and personal basis.

BO: I know you work with oil pastels, do you use other mediums as well?

DPS: I started out with acrylic paint and it remains my current medium of choice because it’s so easy to paint something and then immediately put it on a wall to enjoy. I really love using oil pastels as well because of the vibrant colours, which I think speaks to my style of work. I also use pastel pencils. 

BO: What is your daily ritual for painting? Do you listen to music or radio while you work?

DPS: My daily ritual for painting revolves around another full-time job I have.  I’m fortunate to work in the vibrant downtown Los Angeles area and I spend my lunch hours with my sketchbook and camera at museums and outdoor areas. When I get home I usually spend a couple of hours in the evening executing the ideas I have drawn or photographed during the day.

Sometimes I listen to music while I create. I go through phases. I like to listen to 60’s and 70’s rock. I often sing along and dance while I paint.

BO: Do you share your artwork in social networks? Any awkward comments on your posts? For instance, I got the other day; Why Adam and Eve have belly buttons?”.

DPS: I share my artwork on my website, FaceBook and Instagram. FaceBook and Instagram are immensely inspirational as I have met so many artists from around the world, such as yourself.

I have found that if I paint flowers and puppies people love my work and endlessly comment with hearts. But it took me these years to learn how to stop seeing representationally and to create from my own inner vision. Many people don’t know how to respond to these works of art. One day, when I was feeling that my art didn’t compare to “real artists” works I painted an arm with a razor blade cutting the words “My Art Sucks” into the bloody arm (see here). That piece was censored and I was ultimately banned from a group because people said I was an artist who “promoted” cutting and that I was urging sensitive people to kill themselves. I heard so many hateful things from people who misunderstood my visual message of pain. But I also heard from many more people who understood the message and loved the work.

BO: I love the work you’ve done with my portrait painting (see pic below). It’s a memorable piece with your lovely way of expressing your work, thanks again. What was the most challenging part of the process?

DPS: I absolutely LOVE to paint portraits and many of my fans identify my work as portrait art.  I often hear “I knew it was your work before I saw the name” because of the colour. I dove right into painting your portrait because your photo spoke to me. Your image called me to paint. So, in that respect it wasn’t challenging at all, it was natural for me to paint you. Many people ask me to paint their portrait but unless the photo calls me, I just can’t physically do it.

"Portrait of the artist Birsen" by Dana Payne Saunders
16" x 20", oil pastel on paper

BO: If I was asking you to instead of painting our portraits, to paint someone famous, who would it be? 

DPS: I become fascinated with faces. My current obsession is with Serge Gainsbourg’s face. I recently wandered by his home in the 7th arr. in Paris where he lived when he died. And because I love colour and graffiti and street art, I instantly took to looking up images of him on the internet and painting him (see here). I love to paint other artists and writers and musicians. I love my painting of Edgar Allen Poe (see pic below).

"Portrait of Poe" by Dana Payne Saunders
16" x 20", Acrylic on canvas

BO: Tell us about your upcoming projects, do you have any exhibitions or collaborations with other artists?

DPS: I’m currently working on multiple pieces of what I like to refer to as my Neo-Cobra collection, and I hope to get the collection shown in a local gallery in Los Angeles. I’ve also been photographing ghosts I see in the cement walls of the metro station and have started translating those images into paint.

BO: And the last question... What advice would you give to a late bloomer artist that is just starting out? 

DPS: Is there such a thing as a late bloomer artist? I would say it’s never too late to start a new chapter in your life. Our books are made up of many different chapters. If you start creating later in life, then let it take you where you want to be instead of trying to force it to take you to success or fame or fortune.  Because the journey is always more satisfying than the end.

BO: Thanks a lot again, it was so lovely talking to you, I give my best wishes on your art journey. Have a great day!

DPS: Thank YOU Birsen! It was a joy collaborating with you and getting to know you through this process.
**To see more artworks from Artist Dana Payne Saunder visit her website here.

work in progress

Last week I was working on Dana's portrait (see pic above). She sent me several reference pictures to use. I didn't choose just one but combined them together with a landscape view to the background of the famous Hollywood sign, because she is an LA-based artist. I decided to use a heavy-weight acid-free craft paper. After sketching the basic features of the composition, I started to paint with oil pastels (Sakura Cray Pass Expressionist 50 color set). First I laid the cloud, the sky colors and later on the face and the hair colors. I worked on the details in several sessions. This way my eye didn't get fooled and I was able to catch the details easily. Dana has a beautiful and very sincere looking face, her blue eyes are full of light with sparkles. It was not easy to reflect that expression, but when the painting started to take form, I think I achieved my goal and at the end I was very happy that she liked her portrait (see pic below). Enjoy it!

"Portrait of Dana Payne" by Birsen Ozbilge
8" x 11", oil pastel on heavy-weight acid-free craft paper

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

New Oil Pastel artwork; Still-life with nachos and Adam & Eve

Last week I was busy with my "Win an Artwork" raffle project, and also making some linocut greeting cards for St.Valentines (see here). On Thursday I went to visit a private art collection in Las Palmas City. This new art gallery "La Fundación Canaria para Desarollo de la Pintura", is a non-profit foundation investing on popular living artists (Peter Zimmermann, Ray Smith, Santiago Ydáñez, Marela Zacarias are a few names from their the collection). The owner is originally from Palencia and collecting contemporary art for more than 40 years. If you like modern art, it's highly recommended. I really enjoyed their guided tour. The actual exhibition is their permanent collection, called "Al Rojo Vivo". It can be seen til March 2nd. (It's on Calle Navarro 32, very close to Teatro Cuyás. Open to the public only on Thursdays and there is a guided tour at 18:00 pm)

Yesterday, BonFireCherry, a printmaker friend from Northampton, UK, published on his blog an interview about my linocut artworks. It was an entertaining conversation, If you wish to read it, you can do so here

Enjoying Colombian artist Álvaro Barrios's work "La multiplicación de los cuadros".

At the studio, I was working with a new still-life painting. This time, I chose a challenging composition using a very elaborated silk shawl with its flowers as background. This silk shawl is a typical accessory for a Flamenco costume. It was a gift from my mother-in-law, actually it is the first time I am using it cause there was not an occasion for it. Then there is the vintage German beer stein with a cannon on top of it. On the side, Adam and Eve, two miniature paintings, and the main object is Mexican nacho chips, served in a fish handled blue ceramic plate.

Well, my first step was painting the craft paper with Japanese black Sumi ink, (see pic below) leaving about 2 cm free space around the edge in order to hold the painting without touching. Afterwards, I brushed the free area with water to treat the paper against curling. When it was about to dry, but still moist, I put it into a very big and heavy book and left it there about a couple of hours.

I sketched the composition with graphite pencil, not worrying much about the details, just setting the proportions and basic shapes of the objects first. I put oil pastels softly with a few layers. Since my background was black it helped me to  bring out those difficult colors like browns without creating a muddy effect. I do not blend oil pastels all the way with each other on purpose. I completed the piece in three sessions, in each day with good studio daylight about a couple of hours. Enjoy it!

toning the craft paper with sumi ink

work in progress


"Still-life with nachos and Adam & Eve" by Birsen Ozbilge, 2017
(Click on image to see in better quality)
11" x 8" (29 x 20 cm) Sakura Cray Pas Expressionist oil pastels on 
Acid-free heavy-weight black ink toned craft paper.
Available, click on SHOP

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Monday, February 6, 2017

Wednesday mood: The last print in the series of "Moods of the weekdays"

I have been busy lately for promoting my first raffle project "Win an Artwork". 10 people already joined and it will happen on next Wednesday the 8th. I will announce the winner live on my FB Page around 12:00 PM noon (New York Time). If you haven't heard about it yet for some reason, maybe you skipped it on my social networks or you joined the mailing list recently, so this is your chance to still participate... You can win the linocut artwork below. Read to agree at and simply put a post comment saying "I am in". Shortly after, I will confirm your participation and send your submission PayPal link.

Last week I worked on a new linocut piece called "Wednesday mood", which is the last one in the series of "Moods of the weekdays". It's curious, but it was on a Wednesday afternoon at the studio I was having my lunch snack and suddenly I got inspired, so I started to sketch my panini sandwich with my silly cat napkin ring and fuzzy lemonade on a imaginary seascape background (see pic). Next, I reversed the image on my light board and then transferred it to the lino sheet. I started to carve the lino later that night, then I continued carving the next day for another session. By the late afternoon I made a sneak peak rough print with a graphite stick. It's very helpful to see what needs to carve more in this stage (see pic). When I was ready to print, I cut my printmaking paper. I use Rives cream printmaking paper, it has velvety texture, smooth and hold the ink perfectly. I have been using a water-based Italian Pongo Filo brand black ink (see pic) which is very good, but they don't sell in my local market anymore. So I am in search of a new water-based printing ink. The good news is recently I became a member of a great FB group called "Linocut Friends" where linocut artists share their experiences, talk about linocut materials, lots of good stuff...

Work in progress

water-based ink I am using now

"Wednesday mood" by Birsen Ozbilge, 2017
Original limited edition handmade linocut print
(Edition of 25 only)
Paper size 8" x 6" (20 x 16 cm.)
Image size 4" x 6" (15 x 10 cm.)
Available, click on SHOP

I prepared a video clip with the whole prints of "Moods of the weekdays". Enjoy it now! Have a great week

Click on video to watch
(If you have difficulties to see the videoclip click on this link below )

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Happy Chinese New Year: The Year of Rooster

Chinese New Year celebrations began on last Saturday the 28th, so I decided to create a piece for "the Year of Rooster". First, I checked my scarves and found something really nice, a red and black colored silk scarf with Chinese characters on it which was a gift from a long time dear friend. I used the ceramic chicken teapot as the main object. It is a very colorful object and I knew it would be challenging to bring it out with the red background behind. I added two eggs by the side of it, as completion of the still-life and lastly the eucalyptus branches with leaves tied with a chiffon bow. My sister-in-law sent me these and they smell fantastic!

Once my composition was set, I was ready to sketch and paint with oil pastels. I like to draw a 2 cm frame area on the paper so when I hold it I don't touch on the painting. I used Sakura Cray-Pas Expressionist 50 oil pastel set on an acid-free heavy-weight craft paper. I had 2 hours of good afternoon light in my studio at that time so next day I continued painting where I left from. (see pic 1, 2) Hopefully the year of the rooster comes good for all of us. Have a great week! (Sign up on my newsletter to receive latest blog posts, link is at the end of this article).

first day of work in progress
second day of work in progress


"Happy Chinese New Year! The year of Chicken" by Birsen Ozbilge, 2017
Oil pastel on acid-free heavy-weight craft paper, 29 x 20 cm ( 11" x 8")
Available, click on SHOP

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