Friday, June 29, 2012

"Fawn in Dappled Light" (oil on linen; 6" x 8") sold


Reference photo

It was Wednesday morning at breakfast table.  I was still tired, recovering from the rigors of the workshop last weekend.  I saw the fawn above in my backyard.  Through the kitchen window, I took some pictures, wondering where the mother was. There she was, partially hidden under a tree. 

The thing about deer is that they are rats on hooves.  If you are a gardener, you will know what I mean.  They act as if they own the neighborhood, treat our precious flowers as a salad bar.  Without natural predators, they are wreaking havoc in the eco system in many parts of the country. 

But look at the fawn.  How cute!  Despite my feelings about the species, I was genuinely concerned when I couldn't see its mommy.  If deer look like hyenas, I am sure the public will be up in arms.  We often equate beauty with goodness and ugliness with evil.  Things to ponder about.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"Lavender Heaven" (oil on linen; 11" x 14")

Painting No. 1: "Lavender Heaven"
click here to buy

I love lavender.  Its enchanting scent and lovely colors always make me happy.  My ideal vacation would be a couple of weeks in Provence, painting lavender fields.  Someday....  In the meanwhile, this past weekend I took a workshop with Bobbi Pratte in the lavender fields at Willow Pond Farm in Fairfield, PA.  "Wow!" sums up the experience: the weather was perfect; the views all around, enchanting; the gourmet lunch of all the dishes with lavender in them, heavenly; the camaraderie among the workshop attendants, excellent; Bobbi's instructions, superb.  I think I ran out of adjectives!

My enthusiasm for lavender motivated me to exceed my records as a fast painter.  I have painted up to three small paintings a day.  Guess how many paintings I created during the workshop.  On Saturday morning, I dispatched two paintings.  During a break after the lunch at the farm, I worked on another painting in the shade under a tree.  By the time, we regrouped for the late afternoon painting session, I was pooped out, but no matter.  I did the number four painting of the day!  I was dazed and exhausted; I slept like a log that night.

Painting No. 2: "Lavender Fields and Summer Meadow" (oil, 10" x 8")

Painting No. 3: "Lavender Patch by the Barn" (oil, 9" x 12")
click here to buy
Painting No. 4: "Red Hot Poker Summer Garden" (oil, 8" x 10")

On Sunday morning, after adding some finishing touches on a couple of paintings from the previous day, I "attacked" the lavender fields again, which led to Painting No. 5:

Painting No. 5: "Purple Heaven" (oil, 12" x 12")

Eventually, alas, the lavender fatigue set in.  The last painting was more or less a rehashing of what I have done so far.  Nobody's perfect, you see.

Painting No. 6: "Lavender Fields on a Summer Afternoon" (oil, 8" x 10")

Here are some pictures from the workshop I want to share:

Lavender cheese spread container

Lunch table; Bobbi is the lady in orange T and shirt, the second from the right

Lunch spread

Lavender blueberry cheesecake; I have the recipes for all the dishes!

Lavender tour; do you know that lavender and rosemary are close relatives?

Lavender pickers; another painting material after I recover from the lavender fatigue

Painting lavender fields; I just had to take a picture of my friends working so seriously!


Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Kauai Waves" (oil on canvas; 10" x 10" x 1 1/2")

click here to buy

It looks like there won't be a vacation for us this summer.  My daughter, who is starting high school in the fall, wants to march in her school's marching band.  They have two weeks of training in August, which is ABSOLUTELY mandatory.  There goes our trip to Minnesota to visit relatives and the state fair.  She is disappointed, but one can't march and eat soft-serve ice cream at the same time.  Life's tough choices.  Sigh.

I must console myself by doing lots of vacation-themed paintings, starting with Kauai waves.  Do you know that the Hawaiians invented surfing?  Winter is apparently the best season for surfing in Hawaii.  When we were in Kauai in February, there were high-surf warnings everyday.  I saw quite a few surfers at Haena Beach captured in this painting.  I don't surf, but it sure was fun to watch surfer dudes in action.

Surfer dude

By the way, "Kauai Waves" continues to the 1 1/2"-wide edges for the maximum cool effect! 

"Kauai Waves" viewed from the left side

"Kauai Waves" viewed from the right side

Monday, June 18, 2012

"Red and Yellow Bouquet" (oil pastel; 9" x 9")

"Red and Yellow Bouquet"

Art making is fun, but can be fatiguing.  You paint all day; by the end of the day you feel pooped out.  The last thing you want to do in the evening is more art-making.  That is why so few professional artists I know of sketch daily.  I can come up with only two names!  After a hard day of painting, which is in many ways drawing with a brush, you don't feel like picking up a pen or pencil and draw for fun.  You'd rather watch TV or read a book.  Or go to bed early.  Quite a few artists create illustrated travel journals, but don't expect them to keep it up at home. 

I am embarrassed to admit that I was not an exception.  Until a few weeks ago, I used my home-made journals as scrapbooks for printouts of my blog entries and family photos.  All I can say for myself is that I have been keeping a pictorial journal for more than five years; the current book is Vol. 42! 

But my beautiful journal books with Fabriano 140 lb watercolor paper were meant to be more than the receptacles of photo printouts.  I was supposed to fill my journal pages with drawings, paintings, and insightful comments.  Perhaps, that was the problem.  I may have been intimidated by the high-quality material; how do I mess it up with insignificant sketches?  A terrible dilemma it was. 

One day, I was rereading Danny Gregory's Creative License.  He said something about how trees died for us and that's why we must "waste" our sketchbooks by drawing things inside.  A light bulb went off!  I have stacks of sketchbooks, pens, and other art supplies that haven't seen the daylight for ages.  What am I hoarding them for?  For afterlife?  It was time to use them up!

Here are some of my daily sketches--some done from life, others from photos--I want to share with my readers.  Several led to paintings.  You see, creativity thrives with practice. 

"Flowers from My Garden" (pen and wash)

"Smithsonian Castle Rose Garden" (pen and wash)

"Limes and Lemon" (pen and wash)

"Pink Hydrangea" (watercolor and water-soluble crayon)

"Snow White and the Huntsman" (water-soluble pencil)

"After Shirley Trevena's painting" (watercolor)

"General Stonewall Jackson's Equestrian Statue" (graphite)

"Ducks" (Micron pens)

"Clock Tower at Ellicott City, MD" (Micron pen)

"Cherubs at National Gallery of Arts" (watercolor)

"Limoncello Bottle" (pen and wash)

"Flute Concert" (Micron pen, 5.5 x 7")

The very last image was drawn during my daughter's end-of-the year flute concert at the Levine School of Music ten days ago. I noticed a boy who was playing with his flute while sitting out advanced pieces. He was bored out of his mind; I wasn't because I was occupied! You may notice that some sketches are on a page with my blog entry or photo. I tried to be imaginative to come up with an image that fit the odd shape and shared a theme.

Now the question is this: how long will I keep up with my daily sketching?  A month, six months, a year?  I hope forever!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"White Japanese Anemone" (oil, 12" x 10") sold

"White Japanese Anemone" (oil, 12" x 10")

"From Autumn Garden" (oil, 12 x 10")

I realized that what I need for my artwork is more color and paint.  I dug out an old painting from the last fall.  I remember being pleased with the still life at that time, but for whatever reason, I kept it in my studio.  My subconscious mind must have told me to do more.  So I did.  Wow!  The new, improved painting--"White Japanese Anemone"--pulsates with energy, with life force.  I am onto something!

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Lincoln Memorial at Sunset" (oil on linen; 11" x 14") sold


Lincoln Memorial is a must-see location if you are visiting Washington, DC even if your time is limited.  I took a cousin of mine from Korea to the place several years ago in late afternoon.  As we were leaving after paying respect to the statue of the great president, the setting sun peeked through the foliage of a tree, turning it into a torch on flame, as if it were the symbol of freedom!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

"Sunrise by the Lake" (oil on linen; 7" x 5") sold


It is summertime.  Time to go to the lakes.  Like Boundary Waters, if you live in Minnesota.  Make sure to get up early to witness a spectacular sunrise or two.  A duck glides on the mirror-like water that reflects what is unfolding in the sky.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"Moonrise" (oil on linen; 8" x 6") sold


"Moonrise over the Sea" (oil, 8" x 6")

I thought I would have some fun working on small canvases a series of big paintings, that is, paintings that feel big.  With a size 6 flat brush, loaded with paint, I whipped out three tiny paintings in one afternoon.  Not bad, ha! 

In John Murray's class, the pressure is always on painting fast and large.  There is a student who manages to finish a 18 x 24" canvas in every class!  It is liberating to brandish your big fat brush like a sword, squeeze out loads of paints as if you are a millionaire, and paint like a crazed daredevil.  On the other hand, it is also nice to rebel against your teacher by painting small since it is vacation!  Just don't tell him what I am up to.  Shhhhh.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Donut Break" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 16")

click here to buy

Still life setup for "Doughnut Break"

"Blueberry Pie Party" (oil, 12" x 16")

Last Thursday night, I was giddy with happiness.  I will tell you why.  In one of the last classes of the winter term, my teacher, John Murry, set up two very different still lifes: one with a blueberry pie and the other with donuts.  I got stuck with the pie, candles, and red colander and had to struggle with the painting, wondering why anybody would put a colander on a celebratory spread.  The lucky group with the donuts had fun, all producing expressive, yummy-looking paintings.  I was sore.

I had forgotten about the experience, having sold the blueberry painting and all, until I saw what John had brought for the class--donuts and more donuts!  He bought so many that he said the lady employee at the donut shop looked at him funny.  Well, we behaved and didn't touch any.  There were other things to eat after all.  The teacher kindly baked a peach cobbler for the class; a student brought a big bottle of wine and crackers.  It was the last class of the school year.  We have learned and grown much thanks to John.  Time to party!

"Donut Break" painted itself, really.  When you are excited about the subject, the hand holding a brush seems to dance on the canvas.  Look at the difference between the donut painting and the blueberry pie one.  The old painting appears restrained, whereas the new painting is brimming with expressive strokes.  The former looks correct, while the latter looks happy.  Which party would you rather go to?  Which dessert looks more appealing to you?  A donut, anyone?

Friday, June 8, 2012

"Summer Garden" (oil on canvas; 10" x 10") sold

"Summer Garden"

"Hydrangea Bed" (oil, 7" x 7")

"Hydrangea Garden" (oil, 7" x 5")

I had so much fun painting "Hydrangea and Picket Fence" the other day that I decided to do a series.  All four paintings were based on the photos I took at Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria, VA last Monday.  Some days you are just darn lucky!  Do you see the white picket fence that surrounds the gazebo in my painting below, which I painted in April?  

"Green Spring Gazebo" (oil, 11" x 14")

I have been impatiently waiting for the hydrangea season, because I know that they have hydrangeas planted all around the gazebo. For whatever reason, hydrangeas and a white picket fence are a match made in heaven. They just look perfect together.  They evoke a nostalgic, cottage-garden look that pulls our heart string.  You may not have a hydrangea bed in your garden; you may not even have any garden at all.  But don't you wish you have hydrangeas blooming by a white picket fence in a friendly neighborhood where neighbors look out for each other?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Hydrangea and Picket Fence" (oil on linen; 6" x 8") sold


Reference photo

I love hydrangea.  The Chinese characters for this multi-colored flower mean "water chrysanthemum."  Isn't it interesting?  I guess the name has something to do with its cool palette, which ranges from blue, mauve, violet to yellow green.  Yesterday, I went over to Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria, VA to take pictures of hydrangea bushes.  I have a couple of them blooming now in my garden; one is so enormous that it should be classified as a tree!  But neither is near a charming picket fence.

Ideally, I should have painted them on location, as I have done last year, when I painted "White Picket Fence".  But I knew better.  The picket fence surrounds the gazebo at the park, which attracts a lot of small children for play.  A few minutes of solitude in the hydrangea heaven was soon distrupted by the invasion of three kids with their moms.  I myself used to take my daughter there for fresh air and exercise when she was a preschooler.  So it was time to pack up.  I painted "Hydrangea and Picket Fence" in my studio, wishing I could see the colors in the shadow better.  Oh, well.

"White Picket Fence" (oil, 11" x 14")

Sunday, June 3, 2012

"Still Life with Watermelon" (oil on stretched canvas; 18" x 18")

"Still Life with Watermelon"
click here to buy

Still life setup

"Watermelon, Carrots, and Red Onions" (oil, 11" x 14")
click here to buy

Do you see similarities between my latest still life and the one right above, which I painted in the winter term?  Exactly same choices of fruit and vegetables!  Even the same burlap on the table.  Obviously, my teacher,  John Murray, really likes the combination of shapes and colors. 

Last Thursday evening, he put a swirl of a watermelon, onions, carrots, small pots, and kitchen towel on a low platform so that we could look down and paint.   Look closely. You will find a full spectrum of colors--red, white, blue, yellow, orange, green, and purple.  Aha!  That is what he was after. I must say that it is one delicious still life!