Saturday, October 27, 2012

"Hydrangea and Baby's Breath" (oil on canvas; 16" x 12")

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Still life setup

Once a term we paint large-headed flowers in John Murray's still life class. As my teacher hates the ubiquitous sunflowers, we usually end up with spider mums.  Aagh!  On Thursday night, when I saw him bringing in a bouquet of gorgeous flowers, including hydrangea, my heart skipped a beat.  He also got some apples, which seem to be the theme of this fall.  But as practice makes perfect, I am no longer disturbed by apples.  Bring them on!

I initially misread the color temperature of the hydrangea and blue cloth in the shadow by making them too warm.  The mid-class critique put me back on the right path.  Wow!  John said that "Hydrangea and Baby's Breath" was the best painting I have ever done in his class.  Of course, I've heard him saying that several times before.  Either I am in an upward spiral course of artistic growth, or he is a terrific morale rouser!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Upcoming Two-Person Show

Invitation to my show

I have a two-person show that starts shortly and want to invite you if you live in the area. I have 30 new oil paintings hanging; my friend, Alice Kale, is showing mostly watercolors and some oils. It runs from October 30 to December 26. We are not having a reception for a personal reason (my friend is moving at the beginning of the show!).

The show is at the Manor House at Green Spring Gardens Park, which is located at 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312. Their website is The Manor House is open between 12:00 and 4:30 pm on Wednesday through Sunday. Call ahead (703-941-7987) to make sure that it is open to the public on the day of your visit!

"Young Musician" (oil, 12" x 12")

I have another exciting news to share. My painting, "Young Musician", was selected as part of the FAV15% (jury's favorite 15% of the entries) in the September 2012 BoldBrush Painting competition.

You may view the FAV15% paintings, including mine:


Thursday, October 18, 2012

"Royal Donut" (oil on linen; 6" x 8")

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Is this how the royals are served a donut--in a silver compote?  By the way, the donut disappeared mysteriously soon after my daughter came home from school.  Luckily I was almost done with the painting!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Can't Wait For Christmas!" (oil on linen; 8" x 8") sold


Now that my "still-life-painting-a-day" project is in full swing, I am constantly thinking about what to paint next.  I dug up a red-enameled silver bowl from a drawer-full of the wrapped, rarely-used, and tarnished silverware.  Hum.  A light bulb went off.  Once I get this baby cleaned up, it, along with a couple of silver Christmas balls and a Christmasy ribbon, will make a perfect still life setup!  Ah, endless possibilities!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

"Red Still Life" (oil on linen; 8" x 12") sold


As I had so much fun painting the shiny surface of the eggplants the other day, I thought I would go even further by throwing in a silver platter.  For the still life objects, I gathered three red produce--pomegranate, bell pepper, and red delicious apple.  "Antioxidant Fest" might have worked as the title of the painting too!

Monday, October 15, 2012

"Glorious Eggplants" (oil on linen; 9" x 12") sold


At a grocery store I was looking for mandarin oranges with stems and leaves still attached.  I didn't see them, but found a lot sexier things--Italian eggplants from Holland.  Some produce of an impressive provenance!  I had trouble making them stand; after much fiddling and propping, I arrived at the above delightful arrangement.  Eggplants this beautiful are indeed glorious!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Autumn Colors" (oil on linen; 8" x 6") sold

"Autumn Colors"

Still life setup

A good thing about painting still lifes is that I have a complete control over the subject matter and lighting.  If I choose fruits and vegetables, I get to eat them afterwards.  Flowers will adorn my house after posing for me as long as they are long-lasting kinds.  I learned the tricky business of painting fickle flowers hard way last year, when I tried to paint pink parrot tulips from my garden.  I ended up finishing the largish painting from a photograph, which I think negated the purpose of painting a still life from life!

"Pink Parrot Tulips" (oil, 20" x 16")
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So the yellow mum, a very long-lasting flower, was a wise choice for a still life of autumn colors.  The small Hubbard pumpkin with the most enchanting pinkish orange color alone would have made a painting, but in order to make it more companionable, I also picked up delicious, multi-colored, cherry tomatoes.  How about getting all the "ingredients" for my painting at a grocery store! 

The gold ribbon was added for a graceful flow between the foreground tomatoes and the background mum.  I cannot believe that I managed to paint this rather ambitious arrangement in such a small canvas!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Red Rose" (oil on linen; 7" x 5")

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Still life setup

I have been living off my photographs for months and have finally had enough!  I decided instead to paint more from life.  As I don't seem to be eager to go outside to paint, I figured that simple still lifes would work better for my indolent self.  I ordered a shadow box contraption advertised in Carole Marine's blog, got fabrics to block the ambient light, and bought a red rose for my own still life setup.  So far so good.

Painting the darned rose was not as easy as it appeared.  I first tried it lying on a beige drape.  After a wipe-off and an indifferent painting, I gave up.  Yesterday the flower looked exactly the same as the day before (!), so I decided to have another go.  This time I put the rose in a crystal vase with a striped green fabric as the backdrop.  The vase didn't make into the small painting; the fabric became a neutral green environment.  Doesn't "Red Rose" look like a garden scene instead of a still life?

Monday, October 8, 2012

"Antique Teacup and Apples" (oil on linen; 12" x 12")

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Still life setup

Some days I can paint reasonably well; some other days, I can't paint at all.  Although it was only the third week of the term (I missed the first class), John Murray, who must have thought mighty high of our ability, arranged the above complicated setup last Thursday night!  It was awkward to paint just the elegant brass compote laden with red apples, or the dainty antique teacup and saucer, or the three fruits on the right.  Willy nilly, I ended up painting the entire setup despite my different intentions for this term.  Oy!

First of all, I couldn't mix the shadow colors of the apples, or any other colors for that matter.  I couldn't draw the teacup and saucer either.  The biggest problem was the composition.  The painting was so top-heavy that it was about to topple, figuratively speaking.  Eventually, John came to the rescue.  He worked on my painting for half an hour (!).  No, he didn't finish the painting for me; he showed me the way. 

Do you see how dark the teacup and light cloth are in the shadowed side?  How about the greens and purples in the apples!  When John first started putting down greens, blues, and what not into the apples, they looked like the poisoned apples the evil queen offered to Snow White.  "Apples for Snow White" was the first title I thought of for the painting!

On the following day I knocked down the shocking colors, while still maintaining the dark value in the shadows.  I worked on the painting to complete it, perhaps for three hours altogether, until the paints became too sticky.  What you don't know is that during the painting "session" I also went to my ice-skating lesson/practice and baked two batches of brownies for my daughter's marching band as well! 

A teacher once advised that one should not try to paint unless you have a block of painting time.  If I wait for such a block, I will probably paint two or three times a week instead of everyday.  I say PAINT WHENEVER YOU CAN!     

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"The Itch" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


Reference photo

I don't know if Ethel has lice or not.  But she kept scratching for minutes!  I am sure I made her nervous and this was her response.  I probably didn't make her snout long enough, but I nailed her doleful expression.  Oh, I love dogs!

Friday, October 5, 2012

"Beagle Siblings" (oil on linen; 8" x 6") sold


Reference photo

Last Friday night, I was at a party.  While talking with other guests, I kept getting distracted by a pair of handsome beagles.  As I have been dying to paint dogs, I tried to take pictures  with my BlackBerry.  Unfortunately they were camera-shy.  I managed to take a few snap shots, but couldn't get my "dumb" phone to email them to my laptop.  (No wonder that RIM, the producer of BlackBerry, is in trouble.)  What you see above is the picture I took of the image on my phone's screen!  When there is a will, there is a way.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Sunny Roses" (oil on linen; 6" x 8") sold


Reference photo

These are the same roses as in "Yellow Roses" from a slightly different angle.  Much can be said for painting the same thing over and over again.  One gains a deeper understanding of the subject through the repetition with variation.  Here I was trying to get to the bottom of how to paint natural-looking leaves.  Perhaps, the only drawback in working in a series is coming up with an exciting  title each time!

Monday, October 1, 2012

"Gen. Stonewall Jackson's Equestrian Statue" (oil on linen; 14" x 11") sold


Reference Photo

During my daughter's spring break, my family visited Charlottesville, VA. In the Old Town, we came across General Stonewall Jackson's equestrian statue at Jackson Park. There was no parking available, so I took a shot as quickly as possible from across the street. It was an overcast day; the lighting was somewhat flat. I still liked the eager gait of the general and his mount, so I decided to make a painting.

At the outset, I thought about making the sky as the background by getting rid of the building and trees so that the statue would stand out.  But there was a big concern for a lack of depth with such a treatment.  The building and trees went in, which was after all a good decision.  

"Gen. Stonewall Jackson's Equestrian Statue" is meant to be a companion piece for "Gen. Robert E. Lee's Equestrian Statue" and has a different feel from the earlier painting.  What I like about the new painting is the energetic brushstrokes and smidgens of pinkish underpainting showing throughout the statue.  The energy of the painting goes well with the young, heroic general, who seems to be going some place with purpose. 

"Gen. Robert E. Lee's Equestrian Statue" (oil, 14" x 11")