Monday, January 31, 2011

"First Snow, Lake District in England" (watercolor on paper, 21" x 29") sold


The snow from the last week is still on the ground, so snow is on my mind as well.  "First Snow" is a large painting on a full sheet of watercolor paper.  The scene is the Lake District in the northern England, and I imagined it must be the first snowfall of the season.  Children are going home from school.  The white in the middle ground slope is the untouched paper.  With watercolors, you've got to save the whites with determination; once it's lost, you might as well start all over.  I don't generally use making fluid, but there is no harm in using it if you prefer.

The painting received an award in the Mid-Atlantic Regional Show by the Baltimore Watercolor Society in 2005.  It was also juried into the Art League International Landscape Show in Alexandria, VA in the same year.

Friday, January 28, 2011

"High and Mighty" (acrylic collage on paper, 11" x 7 1/2") sold


You might be surprised to learn that the woman walking the dogs in this semi-abstract collage is the super model Kate Moss.  Or could you tell that from her strutting gait?  I had a lot of fun assembling the pieces of paper painted in acrylic and gluing them onto the support of watercolor paper in Susan Herron's class at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA.

In Susan Herron's class, several years of painting clicked and I finally began to see and paint like a real artist.  She is one of the most generous and innovative teachers whom I had the good fortune to meet.  Despite some personal tragedies, she continues to be a warm, positive human being and popular teacher.  I may have never attended an art college, but will hesitate to call myself a self-taught artist.  I have had numerous influences--direct and indirect--in my art education, and Susan has been one of the former.  Thank you.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"Winter Walk" (acrylic on illustration board, 20" x 30") sold


Nature is not famous for moderation, and has hit the Northeast with another huge snowstorm.  This time, Washington, DC got caught in her furor as well.  Hundreds of thousands of homes are without power; some drivers got stranded on George Washington Parkway for up to 13 hours!  Oh, well.  At least children are home having fun playing in the snow.  

The sun is out. I am going to take a walk in the neighborhood park and take some pictures.  The park has provided many inspirations for my artwork over the years, and maybe I will get lucky today.  The painting won the Second Place in the Potomac Valley Watercolorists show in 2004, and was juried into the Art League show in Alexandria, VA in 2006.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Pears and Pebbles" (watercolor on Yupo; 9" x 12")

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This is one of the first paintings I did on a slick, synthetic support called Yupo.  Paints dry to jewel-like vivid colors because Yupo is not absorbent.  For the same reason, you can wipe off paints back to the original pure white of Yupo, as you can see on the cut surface of the pear in the center.  Fun!

Adding another layer of paint on the already dry part of the painting requires a gentle touch, since if you press the brush hard, you end up lifting off the first layer.  Oops.  Drawing with a graphite pencil also needs to be done with an uttermost care, because Yupo doesn't take paints where you erased the pencil lines.  Sounds like too much trouble?  Try Yupo if you haven't yet.  It's worth the effort.  The painting was juried into the Art League show in Alexandria, VA in 2000.

Monday, January 24, 2011

"Evening Walk in Dublin" (mixed media on paper, 14" x 10") sold


The scene is Dublin in sunset.  The mood is dreamy.  The technique--definitely pointillist.  The painting won the Best in Show in The Art League monthly show in 1996.  When I heard the news, I almost fell off the chair, because I had never been accepted in a juried show, not alone won an award.  The beginner's luck!

This piece is the first decent painting I have ever created.  When I started painting, I chose colored pencil, because it felt least intimidating.  In Pat Barron's class at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA , there were some students who were working on the paper first painted in watercolor.  So I emulated them.  Pat complemented me on the palette I had chosen--orange, green, and violet, saying that it was a classic triad of secondary colors. 

At that time, I didn't know a darned thing about colors.  Now I look at the body of my work, I see a great deal of these three colors, as if I was born color-coded with oranges, greens, and violets.  Interesting.  Pat no longer teaches; she has retired and moved.  I hear her health is failing.  She was one of my first art teachers and I am grateful to her.  The painting is dedicated to Pat Barron.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

"Winter's Arrival" (acrylic on paper, 10" x 14") sold


It was very foggy the night before, which reminded me of this painting.  It is one of the first pieces that I painted in an opaque medium--in this case, acrylic.  I remember being amazed by the covering power of this fun medium.

In case you are wondering why I have been uploading entries about old paintings lately, here is why.  I am busily setting up my online gallery and can't find much time to paint these days.  You know the feeling of wishing there are more than 24 hours a day.  Teaching, parenting, and trying to launch an online art business all at the same time sometimes get too much, and it is painting that ends up shortchanged sadly.  Today I am determined to work on a new painting that I started yesterday.  Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

"Autumn Meadow" (oil on linen, 8" x 10") sold


A freezing rain last night--not a good weather to paint outside.  The wildflower meadow field at River Farm along the Potomac River was in full bloom with fall flowers when I painted this piece in Sara Linda Poly's plein air class.  I just hinted at them with yellows and violets.  The bank of land in the background is Maryland.  There is a running joke among my painting friends: the Marylanders paint their home state bigger than the Virginians.  Can you tell I am a Virginian?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Walk in the Redwoods" (oil on stretched canvas, 18" x 14") sold


I struggled with this painting, largely because the photo I worked with was so washed out by the blinding light.  My teacher, Diane Tester, suggested that I should restore the darks with Photoshop.  Today I brought to her class the original photo that shows the glowing ground where the figure--my then-seven-year-old daughter--is standing, along with the adjusted photo.

My intention was to darken the background trees with dark greens.  No, Diane said, you already have enough greens.  She recommended that I glaze them with purples, which I did promptly.  Wow!  Suddenly there was a differentiated background, middle ground, and foreground.  I redrew the figure (the head was too big!), tidied up things here and there, and you are now looking at the result.  I was so close to the finish but didn't know it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Hands and Feet (graphite on newsprint; 18" x 24")

"Hands" (graphite on newsprint)

When I was painting "At the Aquarium", I had a hard time painting the hand of the figure.  Initially it looked like a rubber glove, not a hand.  The great masters are famous for their hands (and feet); you can tell an inexperienced painter from her awkward hands.  This year I decided to improve my figure drawing by taking classes, and to kick off my plan I took the Hands and Feet Workshop with David Carter at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA this weekend. 

In the mornings the five students diligently studied bones, muscles, and tendons; in the afternoons, we drew hands and feet from slides and a model who happened to be also the instructor.  The above drawings are results of the workshop.  There is no way one can learn all there is to know about the drawing of hands and feet in one weekend.  But I am happy to report that I no longer have the phobia of these extremities.  As David said, all it takes is knowledge, observation, and practice.

Friday, January 7, 2011

"Morning Porch" (oil on linen, 10" x 8") sold


George Washington's River Farm in Alexandria, VA is the headquarters of the American Horticultural Society and a haven for garden enthusiasts.  The old mansion has a lovely porch looking out the Potomac River.  On a hot, hot summer morning last August, the porch was glowing in the sunlight.  Hard to resist, yet difficult to paint, I nevertheless tackled the subject. 

I was not satisfied with the result and had put it away until today.  I realized that I had somehow lost the brilliant light in my struggle with drawing.  No light, no point.  That's the bottom line.  A number of things were done to restore the light and heat.  I am learning a lot by working on old paintings that had been bugging me during this winter.  One thing is never to give upon a painting.  As I grow as a painter, I sometimes seem to figure out what is wrong with a piece on my own.  A good thing.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"Still Life with Anemones" (watercolor on paper; 10" x 18") sold


I used to take a watercolor class with Deborah Ellis at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA.  She believed in painting from life, and set up several fabulous still lifes for her students to choose from every week.  As I switched to the opaque mediums, I don't get to see my favorite watercolor teacher any more regrettably.  "Still Life with Anemones" that I painted in her class has been hanging in my kitchen for several years.

What I like about this painting is its abstract quality.  The fluffy leaves and oval petals of the anemones break up the angularity of the vases and cloth folds, while light and dark tones criss-cross the picture plane.  Today's entry is dedicated to Deborah Ellis, a fun, kind, and cerebral individual.