Friday, November 30, 2012

"Lincoln Memorial Nocturne" (oil on linen; 8" x 12") sold


"Lincoln Memorial Nocturne" is the third of my mini-series of Washington nocturnal scenes.  Again I had to let it dry first, then go back to make the reflections look more watery.  Painting water is a tough business, whether done en plein air or with a photo.  I think I finally got it right.

As a matter of fact, among the three nocturnes so far, I like the way I treated water and reflections in this painting the best.  It is kind of Monetesque, don't you think?  All I have to say is that if a subject is particularly hard, instead of avoiding it, keep painting it!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

"Cutie Westie" (oil on linen; 7" x 5") sold


Finn is a seven-month-old West Highland white terrier, who belongs to one of my neighbors.  A couple of weeks ago, I saw her taking him for a walk.  I just had to ask her to let me take pictures of the cutie pie.  I am told that he likes to put everything that fits in his mouth and swallow.  I believe her.

As we were talking, we heard him chewing something that sounded like a hard candy.  He probably was checking out the local pebble collection.  Boy, he swallowed it fast when his mommy tried to get it out of his mouth.  He must have a strong digestive system!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

"Connecticut Ave Bridge in Autumn Afternoon " (oil on linen; 8" x 16")

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Reference photo

On a beautiful autumn day ten days ago, my family had to drive to the Levine School of Music in Northwest in Washington, DC for my daughter's Suzuki flute Christmas concert rehearsal.  Instead of griping about missing the opportunity for plein air painting with friends, I took my camera with me to take pictures of Rock Creek Park in the car.

Yes, you've been there, clicking away your camera without even getting out of the car.  In my defense (I always have excuses!), it is impossible to pull over along the drive in Rock Creek Park.  Besides, the traffic was heavy, as seemingly everybody was out enjoying the spectacular weather.

I was mesmerized by the tall trees in brilliant autumn colors along the drive.  Since we were in the valley, only the crowns of these trees were lit by the late afternoon sun.  Fascinating!  We passed under several bridges until we hit Connecticut Avenue Bridge over Klingle Valley, more commonly known as the Klingle Valley Bridge.  It is a handsome Art Deco bridge near the National Zoo on Connecticut Avenue.  Marvelous!

I cropped the photo to make the composition more dramatic and proceeded to paint "Connecticut Avenue Bridge over Rock Creek Park."  The painting has the clear separation of the light and shadow families that Kevin Macpherson talks about in his book.  To exaggerate the sensation of a bright sunny day, I painted the area in the sun even lighter than in the photo.  Do you feel like you were there with me in the car wowing at the scenery?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Morning After Snowfall" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


I have painted the same scene twice before.  Yes, I like it that much.  It is a creek down the street where I live.  I took the reference photo many years ago before the age of digital cameras.  Because of the severe erosion caused by heavy rainfalls over the years, this stretch of Holmes Run doesn't look quite the same anymore.  As it hasn't snowed much last winter, I keep painting the same enchanting winter wonderland from my old print. 

I have been rereading Kevin Macpherson's Landscape Painting Inside and Out for the umpteenth time. I think I finally get it.  He talks about the light and shadow families and keeping them separate throughout the painting session.  He also emphasizes using MORE PAINT.  I tried my darned best to paint as if I meant it, with as fewest strokes as possible. 

"Fresh Snow" (oil, 8" x 10")

You probably cannot tell much difference between the new painting and the old one ("Fresh Snow") other than the temperature difference (caused by the quirks of photography), but I assure you that I had a lot more fun with the new one and painted it faster.  Of course, painting fast is not the  goal, but the speed implies decisiveness and enthusiasm.  The way I painted "Morning after Snowfall" is the direction I am pursuing--bolder, fresher, and more lively.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Jefferson Memorial Nocturne" (oil on linen; 10" x 15") sold


"Jefferson Memorial Nocturne" was the first of my new mini series--mellow nocturnal scenes of Washington landmarks.  Initially it turned out dull and boring instead of evocative and stirring.  So I let it dry and reworked with more paint and colors.  The famous memorial to the great president doesn't look dirty anymore; its reflections in the water have colors instead of mud. 

We are used to seeing Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin during the National Cherry Blossom Festival against gazillion, fluffy, pink petals.  I wonder what President Thomas Jefferson feels about that in his grave.  To this man of many talents and great vision, three achievements mattered the most. 

Thus, he penned his own epitaph on his tombstone at Monticello, VA as follows: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statue of Virginia for religious freedom, and father of the University of Virginia."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

"Capitol Nocturne" (oil on linen; 12" x 12") sold


I thought I would create a series of evening scenes of famous Washington landmarks.  "Capitol Nocturne" was actually the third in the series, but it was the first one that turned out right at the get-go.  Painting from the reference photos of nocturnal images that did not give much information about details and colors was not easy. I also wanted these nocturnes to be as evokative and stirring as Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."

Capturing the drama of the brilliantly-lit US Capitol dome  and lights and their reflections in the pond was my goal in "Capitol Nocturne."  About half of the painting session was spent painting upside down in an effort to get the image and reflections to match up more or less.  I would bring the painting to a mirror to look at it reversed, only to put it back on the easel in the wrong way!  Wait a minute, which way was I painting?

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Luscious Yellow Roses" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


I have painted these yellow roses before from a photo. Is that bad of me?  This time I tried to apply a year's worth of learning to the new painting.  The lighting was a cool, natural light.  So the highlights were painted cool; shadows, warm.  I also used more paints and colors.  Someday I will create a painting of roses so powerful that it will cause the viewer's heart to skip a beat.  In the meanwhile, this will do.

"Yellow and Peach Roses" (oil, 8" x 10")

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Light at the End of the Tunnel" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold

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Reference photo

Last Saturday was such an exceptionally nice day that some of my plein air friends went to a park to paint.  I couldn't join them; instead, we had to drive to Washington, DC for a rehearsal for our daughter's Christmas concert.  I brought along my camera just in case, as I knew that we would be driving along the beautiful Rock Creek Park. 

Near the end of a tunnel I took a shot of a familiar, yet always dramatic sight.  How many times have you seen the light at the end of the tunnel? 


Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Central Park in Snow" (oil on linen; 9" x 12") sold


The Central Park in New York City has got to be the most romantic park in the world. Think of all the movies filmed there!  I have painted the famous stone bridge at the pond several times.  This painting captures it on a wintry day.  The snow on the ground glows in the late afternoon sun.  Lights have come on, adding more warmth to the otherwise cold painting.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

"Golden Gate Bridge on Sunny Day" (oil on linen; 9" x 12") sold


The famous Golden Gate Bridge on a sunny day.  Fluffy clouds float by in the sky.  A red ship in the distance is about to glide under the bridge.  The red bridge casts colorful reflections in the choppy water.  I thought of Claude Monet's "The Bridge at Argenteuil" when I was working on the above painting.  I wrote about how much I admire Monet's painting three months ago.  Something about a bridge, boat, clouds in a blue sky, and reflections in the water makes a happy painting.  Don't you agree?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

"Winter Field" (oil on linen; 6" x 8") sold


No, it hasn't snowed in northern Virginia yet.  The painting is based on an old photo.  We haven't had much snow last year; I wonder if we will get lucky this winter.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

"Pink Rose and Hips" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


I have been busy, setting up my Etsy shop.  Since there are only so many hours a day, I ended up not painting at all for the last several days!  The advice people give to the online art entrepreneurs (wow, it sounds impressive!) is that you have to spend 50% of your time on painting, the other 50% on marketing.  Yup, it is incredible, isn't it?  As a book title says, I would rather be in my studio.  But one has to get oneself visible.  Sigh.

Friday, November 2, 2012

"Happiness of Donuts" (oil on canvas; 12" x 16")

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Still life setup

I don't eat donuts.  Well, I eat them occasionally, but they are on the "forbidden food" list, which provokes guilt whenever I do.  I suspect that many of us are like me: I love donuts, but my waist line and cholesterol level cannot afford them. 

Last night, John Murray, my still life teacher at the Art League School, brought donuts as still life prop.  Smiles spread on our faces because we knew donuts meant good time.  Two students produced two terrific paintings; others, including myself, also did a decent job with our donut paintings.

On the way home, I thought about what happened in class and realized something important.  If you paint things that make you happy, you are more likely to be involved in the act of painting.  If the objects are enjoyed by many, you are more likely to sell them too!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

My Show Is Hanging At Last!

This wall over the fireplace has only my paintings.

Alice Kale is my partner in crime!

We hung our paintings side by side as we are such good friends!

Yesterday, after two days' delay thanks to the superstorm Sandy, we were able to hang our paintings at the Manor House at Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria, VA.  It's been four years since I've had a show and I forgot all about how much work it takes! Last week I managed to finish three paintings, spending most time, sending out invitations and e-newsletter and framing; this week so far, I did only one painting. 

If you live in the area, please stop by to enjoy our show.  I hung 30 oils; my friend, Alice Kale, 18 watercolors.  They look great together! 

The Manor House 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!