Friday, June 28, 2013

"Blue Canoe" (oil on linen; 8" x 8") sold


I have a soft spot for dappled light.  Almost any subject looks mysterious and enchanting in dappled light.  Not everything is exposed to the full glare of the sun. Light bounces and shimmers.  Things in the background are bound to be in deep shadow.

Look at this ordinary summer scene.  It was a weekday last week.  A friend of mine and I took a walk through the woods to Luce Creek in Annapolis, MD to see boats.  On the way, a blue canoe, resting with kayaks on a canoe stand, stopped us in our tracks. Dappled light turned the scene into a setting for a fairy tale!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

"Hydrangea Garden" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


"Hydrangea Garden" in the original state

Hydrangea and astilbe in a summer garden by a white picket fence.  Perfect! Unfortunately, my first try was so chalky that I almost scraped the painting off.  The chalkiness was caused by all the "grays" I used at the block-in stage.  That's the trouble with using too much white paint, because these muted, grayed colors are made with lots of white.

Do you remember my experience during Gregory Packard's workshop in May?  When one mixes primary, secondary and tertiary colors with white, colors become "duller," but also more nuanced.  I am still following his example, mixing big batches of "grays" before starting a painting, which I continue to use for the next painting or two.  As you can see in the above example, I have yet to master the fine line between "sophisticated" and "chalky".

I let "Hydrangea Garden" dry and went back with darks made without white paint.  I painted lighter leaves on top of the dark passage and punched out sun-lit petals and creamy astilbe.  Do you agree that I saved the painting from chalkiness?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

"Music from Heart" (oil on stretched canvas; 16" x 20")

click here to buy

I don't paint figures often.  Why?  Because it is very hard to do a good figure painting! When I do, they seem to get attention, like the little girl's painting I did last year.  "Music from Heart" was featured on a site called "Black Art in America."  It is an honor.

Yesterday I shared the news on my Facebook page, which has at the moment 925 fans, and it went completely viral!  Within a day, the post reached 396; more than half of them were viral.  The curator just emailed me with the news that Facebook is doing a display of my painting.  It has already over 60 likes.  Wow!

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

Monday, June 24, 2013

"Sail Away" (oil on linen; 8" x 8") sold


Reference photo of the sail boat

Fishing Creek

Last Thursday, an artist friend of mine and I went to Annapolis, MD for a day of sketching.  The weather could not have been better--sunny, low humidity, and in the mid-70's!  We visited several sites for my friend's future workshop, had a nice lunch, and did a sketch or two at a park.  At the end of the day, we visited Thomas Point Park, from which one can get a nice view of the Bay Bridge.

On the way to the car, we saw a sail boat returning for the day. I was dying to paint a scene like this, but the background of the reference photo lacked poetry.  So I superimposed the image on another picture of the same place, Fishing Creek, just a few minutes' walk from the first location.  I changed the time of the day to a sunset too. How do you like my artistic license?

Friday, June 21, 2013

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


Hydrangeas are blooming!  There is something irresistible about hydrangeas AND a white picket fence.  They pull heartstrings as nothing else.  So romantic and nostalgic.  It doesn't matter whether your mother's garden had these.  I do have a white picket fence; I have a small pink hydrangea bush.  But they are separated by a lawn and driveway!

So, during the hydrangea season, I haunt the Green Spring Garden's Park in Alexandria, VA, which is just a stone's throw from my place.  The gazebo, which I have painted a gazillion times, is surrounded by a white picket fence.  When hydrangeas bloom, it looks even prettier.  For the past few weeks I checked the growth of the hydrangeas several times to make sure that I wouldn't miss them at their peak.  My patience was rewarded at last.  You will be seeing more of hydrangea paintings!  

By the way, the winner of the print of "Summer Garden" is Sandra Land. Congratulations!  I would like to thank 50 fans and followers who participated in the drawing.  I will be giving away an original painting in early July.  So stay tuned!

Do you remember this gazebo?

Monday, June 17, 2013

"After Independence Day" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 16") sold


The day after the Independence Day in 2002, I visited a marina along the Potomac River and saw the scene.  The contrast between the brilliant sun-lit boats and those in the shadow made an indelible impression.  Full of enthusiasm, I painted a full-sheet watercolor painting, also titled "After Independence Day."

The painting won the Potomac Valley Watercolorists Award (something like the second-place award) in the prestigious American Landscape Show at the Art League Gallery in August 2002!  It was before the age of the digital camera; I wasn't much of a photographer either.  Unfortunately, I didn't have the chance to get the painting photographed properly in slides before the show.

When the painting got sold on the last day of the show, I didn't know whether I should be happy or sad.  Dang!  All I have left of the entire exhilarating experience is a snapshot.  I took a picture of the picture to prove that I didn't make up the story!

"After Independence Day" (watercolor, 22" x 30"; sold)

I cropped the scene for the new, much smaller, oil painting.  Unlike the original watercolor version, for which I did a lot of careful pencil drawing, the new version was done with a minimal pre-drawing.  The background is barely suggested in the watercolor painting; in the new painting the background is treated more boldly.  The result is that the sun-lit boats are highlighted between the darker values of the background landscape and the foreground boats.  So, which painting do you prefer?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Rosy Glow" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


The rose garden at the Green Spring Gardens Park

The rose garden at the Green Spring Garden Park in Alexandria, VA has given me so many painting opportunities over the years.  It was blooming like a heavenly garden 20 days ago; the flowers are gone for now.  They will come back later in the season.

Monday, June 10, 2013

"Sunny Marina" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 16")

"Sunny Marina" getting block in, next to the reference photo

A couple of weeks ago, two friends and I went to the Washington Sailing Marina on Daingerfield Island in Alexandria, VA. Believe it or not, it is right next to the Washington National Airport.  It can be noisy there and the weather forecast was HOT. But one doesn't hear anything when absorbed in painting boats.  It was actually quite nice in the breeze too.

A small plein air painting I did on that day turned out so so.  Although there were good things about it, I scraped it instead of sweating out to make it work.  Why not a fresh start?  Why torment myself and the world with a mediocre painting?

"Sunny Marina" is a bigger and more complicated painting than the destroyed painting.  I give a standing ovation to the artists who can paint good boat paintings on location.  Boats have got to be the hardest subject to paint--as hard as portraits. Even with the optimal studio painting conditions, it was taxing to paint the boats all stacked together, like sardines in a can!  By the way, I made one important change from the reference photo.  Can you tell what it is?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Oregon Trip Sketchbook Pages (watercolor and pen; 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" each)

"Multnomah Falls on the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway"
Hard to look up (620 feet) and draw!

Twelve summers ago, when my daughter was three and I could still pass as a "young lady," my family took a two-week vacation in Oregon.  I loved the place so much that I suggested we should retire there.  My husband, being pragmatic as always, scoffed at the idea: "Two months of sun, ten months of dreary weather. No, thanks."

Another reason why Oregon will always remain one of my favorite places on earth is because of my intense sketching activities during the trip.  I sketched while my husband and daughter took a hike or a nap.  I sketched in the car. I sketched at a busy market.  I sketched at a zoo and at tidal pools.  I sketched while getting eaten alive by mosquitoes.  I was unstoppable.  Alas, I no longer have that kind of energy level.

Here are some of the sketchbook pages. Please enjoy.  If you have any questions about my procedure, don't hesitate to ask!

"John Martin and His Band at the Saturday Market, Portland, OR"
Great music and dance, a fantastic weather!

"At the Thai E-San Cuisine in Portland"
Excellent food; I ate stir-fried Thai eggplant with shrimp.

"Sunrise Point (6,100 ft), Mt. Rainier National Park, WA"
Snow-capped in July, I felt like I landed in Switzerland.

"Alpine Wildflowers at Sunrise Point"
I sketched them in the car.

"Chanticleer Point, Columbia River Gorge"
We picked wild raspberries--intense, sweet taste. Hot!

"Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area"
Elk were too far, we couldn't see them very well.

"West Coast Game Park in Bandon"
We went to this zoo because our daughter slept through the entire Oregon Zoo in Portland and was sad about missing the animals. Honestly, I sketched these animals on location!

"Sunset Bay"
We went back at sunset. There were a lot of people to enjoy the view.

"Myself Sketching at North Jetty Beach with My Daughter"
She was a very patient child!

"View from the Whale Cove Inn Restaurant, Depoe Bay"
My daughter was tired from the hike down to Sea Lion Caves, so she again slept through the entire lunch. The  restaurant people kindly made her a PJ sandwich to go.

"Yaquina Head Lighthouse"
The first cloudy day during the trip! Windy and cold.

"Tidal Pools at Quarry Cove"
At low tide, Yaquina Head

"Depoe Bay; the World's Smallest Harbor"
We all sat in the car; I sketched, while my family waited patiently.

"Surfers at Cape Kiwanda"
We leave the coast now. Bye!

"At the Chateau Benoit Winery"
The journey has come to an end. The exhausted, but happy, artist with her daughter.

"At the Portland Airport"
Waiting for boarding. Bye, Oregon!

"Oregon Trip Sketchbook Covers"; I had them bound at Staples.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"Winston" (oil on linen; 7" x 7") sold


"Winston" is the first painting in my new "Pet Portraits Project."  I was inspired by a good friend, Jo Mackenzie, who paints gloriously fresh watercolors.  She also paints pets from her Facebook fans' photos.  If they like their beloved pets' portraits, they can buy them.

I sent out the June newsletter on June 1st, announcing my intention.  An old collector sent me an email with attachments right away!  Winston is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.  He was sitting on his new mommy's lap on the day he came home 15 months ago.  I transformed her pink sweater into a pillow.  Winston is now 18 months old.  He is full of energy at all times and is very smart.  He really enjoys cold treats; some of his favorite treats are ice cubes and vanilla ice cream!

If you want to have your cats and dogs (and other furry friends) immortalized in oil painting, please contact me.  The paintings are not commissions; prices will be lower than my commissions and I can be a little relaxed about the likeness of the subject. What I need is good photos taken in natural light (either indoors or outside), without flash.  It will be better if I have several pictures (large files, such as 3 MB) to work with.

By the way, the winner of "Pink Rose" is Ruby Jung.  Congratulations, Ruby!  I would like to thank more than 30 fans who participated in my painting giveaway.  I will be giving a print away in less than 10 days.  So stay tuned!

Monday, June 3, 2013

"Red Sails" (oil on stretched canvas; 18" x 18")

click here to buy

Also titled "Red Sails" (watercolor on Yupo, 20" x 26")

Hello, June!  With one foot into the summer, I thought it would be a terrific idea to do a series of boat/ship paintings this month.  The June Challenge is "Sail Away"!  To kick off the series, I revisited an old painting of Newport, OR.  The fishing boat with red sails had become a floating museum of seafaring in this picturesque working harbor, where my family spent a lovely day during a vacation in 2001.

I painted the first "Red Sails" in watercolor on an unpredictable support, Yupo.  It turned out well to my relief; it went on to be juried into the Art League Landscape Show in 2002 and was sold in my first solo show in 2006.

It was my husband who suggested that I should do a painting of "Red Sails" in oil.  Why not?  I cropped the scene into a square format and came up with a new color scheme of red and green with blue gray and grayed yellow orange as the neutral backdrop.  It was a perfect project to test out Gregory Packard's method of a neutral, mid-tone beginning.  The busiest, brightest, lightest, and darkest elements of the painting are all packed into the central area.  

I loved the watercolor version and was a little sad when it got sold.  Now I have a new "Red Sails" to look at.  So please tell me which version you like better?