Sunday, November 5, 2017


PAINT OUT LOUD  is an "artumentary" of my paintings, from the
original sketch, to the finished oil painting, signed and framed.

This is #3 in my series of sharing secrets and insights into my creative process. 
 An artist learns to paint by painting. Each painting becomes our teacher and 
paves the path for the one to follow.

It's been too crazy busy to be blogging!  And yes, its been far too long.
I traveled, moved and then I pulled off a two month summer art show,
got accepted into five juried exhibitions, and also won three awards!
It was a great summer. WHEW!

 Now that it's Fall, I am back in my studio where I have more room to paint larger pieces.
I met so many wonderful customers this summer. When I shared my works I told everyone that
I would never ever paint one of my complicated, detailed, night scenes. Nope, never again. 
One should never say never. (See below).

Did you know that rain means increase and blessings?

I took photographs in New York of Times Square - 47th Street on a rainy night in November.
It was quite cold. My fingers were glued to the camera.  The reflections from the city lights onto
the sidewalk  drew me in.  I stood in the street waiting for the light to change.
They honked, screamed, yelled!  No matter.  I got the shot.

I chose a wonderful Raphael Premium archival oil primed linen panel, made in Italy.  
These panels are extraordinary.
This is my initial sketch.  I wanted to get all the figures and the scene organized into a
wonderful composition.  I used pastel pencil, water, Q-tips to draw and blend, 
and a few paper towels.
I generally start keeping it loose and wanted to maintain that momentum!

I further defined the drawing and values for the painting. 
I really took this drawing further than I normally do,
but I wanted to ensure I had everything in place. I used Pastel pencil 
and Liquid and used Q-tips for drawing and blending.
I also added in a few oil colors of raw and burnt umber
throughout using a flat brush.

Did I mention this oil primed linen panel is exceptional! 
A really good substrate makes all the difference.

I decided I wanted to get some details in now so I wouldn't get lost, 
as I often do, when working on complicated scenes!  
I say to myself, "hmmm, where was I?"
I'm terrible on directions too.

It was time to add some color. I added white and some beautiful grey greens
which balanced nicely with the warm umbers.  
Knowing the focus was going to be the Roxy sign, I began giving this area 
detail. I added more burnt umber and a little ivory black
to the carriage and reflections.

I added a beautiful gray turquoise to the pole and garbage receptacle
and several other grays in background.  I love the way the grays balance with 
the umbers and darks. There's a lot going on with this painting.
 I actually fell in love with where the painting was at this moment. 
I could have stopped, but I wanted to get some vibrant colors in the painting 
to make certain areas really pop!

I'm happy with the progress.  It's time to add some yellows into the mix. 
I lay in some toned down yellows, almost in a dry brush impasto style. 
I don't want to overwhelm the piece. I mix some of the yellow hues into the 
grays and continue establishing the lights, halftones and darks.
I begin to define some of the details of the window on the right.
 Some of the buildings get additional strokes.

 I've added more color.  And it's FUN!
If you haven't figured out by now, RED is my favorite color.  
Almost all of my paintings have red in them somewhere.
I wanted to balance the tones of red throughout. The values seem right.  My first teacher
Helen Van Wyk always said, "If you get the value right, the painting will be right."

If I question my values, I take a photo of my painting thus far. I go to photoshop 
and turn the photo into a black and white. Easy peasy.  
We are so lucky to have these tools at our fingertips.

(I'm sure you can do the same thing in photos and in preview and many other programs.)

I take photographs of each painting I am creating as it progresses.  
This is a great way to see my painting on my computer screen and view the work 
from another perspective.  I enjoy zooming in on different areas of the piece
to see how the strokes are working, or not working.  

The painting is getting near its completion. I've added details throughout the scene
and begun placing some of my "rain" strokes.
All it really needs are a few more punches of color here and there
and several details including some lights in the windows of the buildings in the
upper left corner to add a little flavor of subdued light.

After a full night at the easel I sat and viewed the piece for quite some time.
I made the final decisions about what the painting needed or didn't need.  
I have come to learn that when I promise myself I will leave some sections alone, 
to keep my promise.  I learned from those many times when I was going to 
 just touch up an area and make it better. Two hours later I'm wondering why didn't 
I just leave it alone!  EEEgads!
I hate it when that happens.

Sometimes I have to de-construct a piece with sandpaper to re-paint an area. 
This painting required very few changes, which makes me happy.

I added the higher highlights and beefed up the colors, especially
the yellows and reds. I added more of my "rain" strokes and also added some 
thicker, "funner" strokes throughout to keep the painting lively and colorful.

"close up"

"close up"

"Times Square - Roxy"
oil on Italian linen panel
16" x 20"

This is what my palette looked like after I finished the painting.
(Next time we'll talk brushes or substrates or color mixing!)

Leave comments or email me with your thoughts!



Coming soon!  I will be offering a limited number of online art lessons and art guidance with your paintings.  If you want to learn how to paint or feel stuck
with your creativity this one on one program is for you.

Email me for more information!

Thursday, April 28, 2016


PAINT OUT LOUD is an "artumentary" of my new works from beginning to framed.

This is #2 in this series. I will be sharing  secrets and insights about my creative process.

I love to capture people enjoying great food and libations in little cafes.  I found this little coffee
shop on one of my photo adventures.

Deciding on the substrate and size of the piece, not only determines the foundation of a painting, but also
the tempo. I decided on an archival square panel, 12" x 12". I coated the panel with a two layers of yellow ochre, giving it
a warm base.  I then sketched the layout and some details directly with oil paint using
filbert brushes and flats.

I worked directly in oil for the initial sketch.

The coffee shop had a warm welcoming vibe.  The yellow base helped set the tone for this piece.
I kept the strokes very impressionistic and moved throughout the piece adding red
accents to maintain color continuity. I let some of the background color
show through the figures and the background.

I added more and more strokes to the figures and background and added
reflections to the floor.

The painting progressed easily. I kept changing the characters 
as I painted.  I lightened his hair color and changed his face. I  like to make my characters lovable. 
Each has a unique narrative lending to the paintings' story.

I continued honing each section of the painting and re-visiting the
characters until I felt they really spoke to each other and to me.   
When the painting is finished, the story is told by the viewer and his/her  personal interaction 
with the characters.

I used a lot of vertical impressionistic strokes on the background, varied the strokes
on the people and tables and used mostly horizontal strokes on the floor and reflections
with a variety of brushes. I softened some areas with Q-tips and my fingers!

Close up of cafe chairs.

I really wanted to express the beauty of these cafe chairs.  I did embellish
the colors and added in the sugar bowl - of course!

I emphasized the coffee cup poster in the frame above his head
to set the scene and make it fun. I changed his appearance and then 
  re-worked his chair. I was able to get the nice rounded effect of the chair back
with an American liner #1 brush .  I added the reflections on the floor with a shader brush. 
I love to use so many different brushes.  It gives variety to the strokes and always adds
some very interesting  results.

With thick strokes I re-painted the cups and glass on the table using very expressive strokes.
I added more highlights on her shirt and accentuated the light on the table behind her.

I added some details throughout the painting and as I have learned
it was time to put down the brushes and sign the painting.

"The Coffee Shoppe"
oil on archival panel, 12" x 12"

This painting is now available through my studio.

Hope you enjoyed this painting process.
I would love to hear from you.  Let me know your thoughts
insights and comments.

Thank you.


September McGee

Friday, March 11, 2016


Welcome to my 2016 blog - PAINT OUT LOUD!

PAINT OUT LOUD is an "artumentary" of my new works from beginning to framed.

In this blog series I will be revealing insights and secrets I have learned over the years that help me create my unique impressionistic style I am known for today.

After spraining my ankle early Fall, I was forced to sit at my easel to paint. I generally stand up to paint. Standing helps me stay looser and keep my brushstrokes spirited. I get to dance, pet the cat and stay open to the intuitive promptings that arise as the creative process evolves. Sitting down is definitely a slower process. I generally sit to do fine detailed work. My studio is small and my left ankle had to be propped on a little foot stool that sits to the left of my easel and under the computer stand. My easel is in the center and my tabouret is on my right. A little tricky arrangement, but manageable. When you gotta paint, you find a way. My healing coach JoHanna suggested that sitting down might result in a new style of painting. I do believe everything happens for a reason.

It has been a long process getting my ankle to heal (over four months) and yes, I have been painting sitting down, and yes a newer style has been evolving. I began 2016 painting several pastels, mainly because I hadn't completed a pastel in almost a year. I was pleased with the results. Liking results fuels confidence and encourages more immediate works.

I flipped my studio back to oils. Sometimes I do a painting in both oil and pastel, which is always fun. Over the years, I have learned immeasurable amounts of information about creating art by working in different mediums from oils, pastels, watercolors, mixed media, sculpture, pencil, charcoal, mono prints and sculpture.

I keep file folders in my computer of photos I have taken in hope that some day these photos will become a painting. There are many waiting their turn to become a masterpiece. The photo I used for today's blog was taken on a freezing night in Times Square, NY. This photo has been on my mind for several years and I was finally ready and energized to paint this piece. If I start a painting and the energy is wrong, the painting will never happen, or it will give me so much grief, 
it's not worth it.

I have learned to listen. When I listen I am guided to the right subject matter at the right time. Often I work on several paintings at the same time. This keeps the energy flowing. I have also learned, when I get stuck, or just can't seem to get it right, to stop and take a break. If that doesn't work, it's time to move on to another piece, or go play with the cats. You can't fight your way through a painting. Deep breaths, listen for guidance and trust. It's amazing what happens when you get in the place where you leave the critic, judge, jury and doubter out of the mix.

 The decision of which substrate to use is critical. I use only the best.  Each surface will net a different result and technique. I decided to use a new oil primed archival linen stretched onto kiln dried stretcher bars. I love linen. I used a Faber Castell Pitt Pastel pencil to sketch in the composition. Utilizing water moistened Q-tips, fingers, brushes and paper towels, I blend and soften the pastel image. When I felt I had the sketch in a place I began adding thin washes of oil paint using both raw and burnt umber, ivory black and a little Titanium white to set the tone for the underpainting.

Pastel block in

I added additional thin layers of oil using raw umber, burnt umber, ivory black and white. Notice I changed the composition by moving the figure on the far left foreground over to the right. I believe it gave the painting better symmetry. I kept the strokes loose and expressionistic. 

I use my iPhone camera to record my progress as I go. How lucky we are to live in an age with all our "techy" tools!
I paint from my laptop making it easy to access all my images. I compare each sessions progress side by side to decide how the painting is progressing.  Sometimes a wipe out here and there is in order. Wipe outs are not going backward.
Often what remains works out perfectly. 

It's time to add some color! Using walnut oil to keep it fluid, I begin to add elements of color to set the tone and palette.

  Beginning of color (1st photo)             Adding more color (photo #2)

I use a lot of spirited brushstrokes and rich textures when I paint. I decided to keep the paint thin until I was certain of the placement of all the components. This is New York at night. The neon signs banners, colors and buildings are so "in your face".  I wanted to stay true to this energy and keep it colorful, fun and impressionistic.

 I enhanced the color overall, deepened the foreground figures and developed details. I painted the umbrella and added reflections onto the street. I added color to the signs, banners and lights. You can still see the untouched white linen on the left of the painting. I am editing as I go and placing my reds (my favorite color) throughout the piece 
to maintain color continuity. 

Thicker and more impressionistic strokes have been added with bristle filberts, various brushes and Q-Tips. I removed the blue horizontal stripes above his hat and replace this area with red lights. I adjusted the shapes in the upper left corner. I spent time on the details to the sidewalk sign, which gave me the idea for the name of this painting. 

At this point I printed out a color photo on 24 lb. white paper which gives me a new vantage point to see where I am, and decide where I am going. I paint directly onto this print with a small flat brush using medium thick oils of various hues, most of which are left over from my last painting session. The paper grabs the oil nicely and allows me to easily develop ideas and make any other changes on top of the print without messing with the original. 
This process helps re-charge my energies and becomes a guide to help me navigate forward. 

Having worked out my issues on the color print, I return to the original on linen.

I modified the shapes in the upper left and added a red banner to the middle ground on the far left. I used impressionistic daubs to denote the tail lights and street lamps. I re-designed the color and shapes of several signs on the left. I darkened the left foreground figure and strengthened the reflections on the street. I used linear strokes to define the lamp post, some of the banners and signs. 

Close Up

I added some turquoise blue lights to the buildings in the back, complementing the reds, yellows and blues throughout. 
I simplified some of the shapes on the left. Additional hues and shapes are modified as I near completion
and thick textured strokes are added with bristle filberts to make some areas pop.

"Chanel In The City" 24" x 18" oil on linen

Voila! the painting is finished. I would love to tell you which stroke was my last, but unfortunately I can't remember. There comes a time when the brushes need to be put down. I like to let my paintings sit in the studio for several days. 
Oils take their own time drying and often hues change by virtue of the medium. 
Of course the original is so much richer than this photo indicates. 

The painting is now photographed, signed and framed.

"Chanel in the City", oil on archival linen, 18" x 14" framed in Gallery Black
Available from my Studio

PAINT OUT LOUD is my way of sharing my creative process with you. 
I hope you enjoyed my insights and progressions as this painting evolved. 

I am contemplating showing pictures of my painting setup, brushes, paints and special tools on my next 
PAINT OUT LOUD blog. The next painting from start to finish will surprise you! 
Let me know your thoughts.

If you have any questions, or would like additional information, please add your comments to this blog
or email me directly.


 and stay in touch!



P.S.  Sign up for my 2016 Newsletter!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Happy Holidays from September McGee

Happy Holidays from September McGee
happy holidays 1
At the Met Series - Love In The City
At the Met Series - Love In The City, Oil on Senso Linen 28" x 22"
The Yellow Hat
  • The Yellow Hat - oil on linen panel , 14" x 11" - SOLD
  • Laguna Beach #5
    Laguna Beach #5, 12" x 16" oil on panel - SOLD
    Maestro II, 16" x 20" pastel on panel
    Maestro II

    I wanted to take this moment and wish you the most wondrous holiday season, filled with much joy, heartfelt laughter and wonderful
    memories that will last throughout the year.

    Thank you for being one of my cherished collectors. You inspire me to continue to create great works.

    September McGee

    Art makes the best holiday gift.
    It's the gift that lasts a lifetime!

    Rainy Day Series - Red and Blue Umbrella
    Rainy Day Series - Red & Blue Umbrella, oil on Bristol, archival mat
    Rainy Day Series = Red Purse #3
    Rainy Day Series = Red Purse #3, oil on Bristol in archival mat

    There are only a few of the little Rainy Day original oils remaining. Originally 95.00, the holiday special price is 85.00 including shipping.

    email me to reserve yours:

    I also have some exciting
    new works!
    NOW is the time to add to your collection.

    If you haven't received a copy of my new book "LOVE is my favorite COLOR" grab yours today.
    Books make wonderful gifts.
    Shipping is free!

    Holiday specials continue through
    January 5, 2016

    Image 1842837
    View my new works!
    Order BOOK
    September McGee