Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Summer Lake Cruise" (watercolor on paper; 14" x 10") sold


The scene is a lake in the New York state, which I visited on way to Niagara Falls many years ago.  The vacationers were getting on board of a cruise ship festooned with patriotic flags; you can see the captain on the bench watching them.  I left the foreground and the sunlit parts of the figures and boat untouched, since nothing beats the pure white of the paper for imitating the sunlight!

Monday, July 29, 2013

"Summer Reading" (mixed media on paper; 10" x 14") sold


Summer is the time to take a vacation, sunbathe on the beach, and catch up on reading. Not for me, unfortunately.  This is the second year without a summer vacation, thanks to my daughter's busy camp schedule.  I am in a way taking a break from my everyday painting routine by photoshopping many images of my artwork, updating my website and blog, and mulling about how to keep growing as an artist.

During my "break" last week, I found the above image among my portfolio.  It's an old painting that I did after a family vacation to Maui many years ago. A couple in swimsuits lean back comfortably in beach chairs, probably reading something light.  The sunlight coming down in rays of warm-toned dots envelope the figures.

What kinds of mixed media did I use?  The toned ground and figures were painted in watercolor; the dots were created with Prismacolor colored pencil.  Without the pointillist effect of dots, the painting would have been unremarkable.  With the dots, it pulsates with brilliant sunlight, which brings on the associated feelings of warmth, idleness, relaxation, and happiness.

A successful painting makes the viewer linger and feel something profound.  It may be longing, nostalgia, joy, passion, sorrow, inspiration, etc.  I endeavor to create that kind of art--emotional, powerful, and unforgettable.

Friday, July 26, 2013

"Purple Beauties" (watercolor on Yupo; 10" x 8") sold

matted size: 14" x 11"

I have painted these purple irises from my garden many times before--in watercolor on paper, in oil on linen, in different sizes, etc.--all of them sold, of course.  I just love them so much!  This time, it is watercolor on Yupo, because I wanted to see whether I would be able to paint such a complicated subject on Yupo.  In the process I made an important discovery.

After the flowers and spiky leaves were done, I sprayed the workable fixative on the painting.  This fixative protects the artwork, but allows the artist to continue to work on the support. Would the finicky Yupo take the spray too, as even a bit of grease from fingers makes it impossible to move paints around on the darned "paper"?  I experimented on a small unpainted piece of Yupo before this drastic action, but you never know.

To my relief, I was able to manipulate the background wash without worrying about "melting" the finished subject.  The dark dramatic background has the effect of making the backlit flowers pop out.  By chance, the top portion happened to dry a little lighter, mimicking the sunlight from the sky.  I am loving my Yupo explorations, pushing the boundaries, going where I have never gone before.  It's like "Star Trek"!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

"General Stonewall Jackson in Moonlight" (watercolor on Yupo; 8" x 8")

matted size: 12" x 12"
click here to buy

The equestrian statue of General Stonewall Jackson, the Civil War hero, is located at Jackson Park in the Old Town of Charlottesville, VA.  I have painted the statue before in oil in the overcast, late afternoon light.  I thought I would try it again, this time in watercolor on Yupo.

Gone are the lush spring growth in the background as well as the stone stand, on which the horse and rider are standing.  I also conjured up an indigo blue sky--a dark, somber atmosphere that somehow seems to befit the hero who died tragically young.

As the paints don't behave as politely on Yupo as the artist wishes, I had to spray off the sky with the atomizer several times.  The statue and sky melted together in some areas, making them all mysterious.  The moon appeared behind the general too. Interesting!  Finally I restored the darks on the statue that had been washed away.  I really like the new painting!  What do you say?

"General Stonewall Jackson's Equestrian Statue"
(oil, 14" x 11"; sold)

Monday, July 22, 2013

"Bountiful Hydrangea" (watercolor on Yupo; 10" x 8") sold


Hydrangea has got to be the most bountiful plant ever.  One small pot of hydrangea will grow to be a huge bush laden with beautiful flower heads!  I wasn't sure whether I could paint such a complex, tight subject on the "uncontrollable" Yupo.

After I put down the initial washes of the blue flowers, warm shadows in the foreground, and cool darks in the background, however, I could envision the sunny hydrangea bed coming to life.  I proceeded to develop the leaves and flowers.  If you step way back, the painting reads even better.  I am proud of myself for pulling off "Bountiful Hydrangea"!

Friday, July 19, 2013

"Poppy Dreams" (watercolor on Yupo; 6" x 8") sold


I am continuing my Yupo painting explorations.  Everyday I work on two or three paintings.  Why?  Because paints on Yupo dry very slowly; water has to evaporate, as the synthetic support does not absorb any moisture.  While a section on a painting is drying, I work on something else on anther painting.  I go for puddly, spontaneous, watercolory look in these paintings, but they are actually painted slowly, patiently, and in stages.  How do you like "Poppy Dreams"?

By the way, I found a great quote by Claude Monet: "I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers."  He took words right out of my mouth!  I can paint flowers everyday for months without running out of inspiration!

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Red Boat" (watercolor on Yupo; 8" x 8") sold


The scene depicts a small charming marina at Luce Creek in Annapolis, MD.  The red boat sings in this green, blue, and purple landscape, doesn't it?  Its actual color was dark blue!  I had a lot of trouble with this painting.  I wiped out and repainted the sky and water.  Still something bothered me.  But I liked the middle section with the boats so much that I couldn't give up.  So I redid the water one more time.  More disappointment.

I was about to toss it into the waste basket, because one cannot mess with a painting forever.  Suddenly a light bulb went off.  Why not crop it and get rid of the offending bottom portion?  I am raising the attitude of "Never give up, never surrender" to an art form!

Reference photo

Friday, July 12, 2013

"Pink Peony Magic" (watercolor on Yupo; 8" x 10") sold


Backlit pink peonies against a dark night sky.  Does it make sense?  Yes, because it's magic!  Of course, part of the magic is Yupo.  All the swirly stuff in the background was created by manipulating wet paints.  How?  I held the Yupo sheet gingerly by the edges and moved the paint puddles left and right, top to bottom as well.  Very messy and nerve-wrecking.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  This time it worked!

The painting was published on the Daily Paintworks site this morning.  Someone left this comment: "Such a lush, translucent watercolor.  Strong use of this medium."  Isn't that nice?

The winner of "Moonrise over the Sea" is Elizabeth Ferguson.  Congratulations!  She is a relatively new fan and one of the most enthusiastic Facebook fans of mine.  She leaves a wonderful, positive comment on many posts.  Thank you, Elizabeth.  Artists are like movie stars.  They want to be seen and loved!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"Pink Hollyhocks" (watercolor on Yupo; 10" x 8")

matted size: 14" x 11"
click here to buy

I decided to paint watercolors this summer, taking a break from the intense oil painting exploration since April.  If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may recall my "Spring Fever" series of watercolor florals in March.

"Spring Flowers Collage I"
click here to buy a print

For this summer's watercolor series, I wanted to do something different.  I felt that my usual way of painting watercolors was too tight.  Honestly, no artist wants to paint tightly!  How do I achieve my goal of painting loosely?  Paint on Yupo, which does its own thing.

I can't go back to fix things, because if I do, the dry paints will be reactivated by water and be lifted.  If I use a soft sable brush with the gentlest touch, I can maybe do a glaze or two over a small area.  Ordinarily, watercolor paints on paper dry disappointingly lighter than they appeared when wet.  Not with Yupo.  Paints dry in intense original colors and glow like jewels.  Look at "Pink Hollyhocks".  Do you believe me?

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Morning Harbor" (watercolor on Yupo; 20" x 26") sold


As you know, I used to be a daredevil watercolorist.  I would occasionally pull out a full-sheet of Yupo, the  slick, synthetic "paper" with zero absorbency, let my hair down, and do the wild thing.  With Yupo, the artist has very little control over the painting process.  Paints puddle in oddest places and do their own crazy stuff.  "Red Sails" is the probably the best Yupo painting I have ever done.  I absolutely adore its drippy, watery, lyrical quality.

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

"Morning Harbor" is another watercolor painting on Yupo.  It depicts a harbor in northern England bathed in the morning light.  There are no puddles in the painting!  I don't know how I was able to pull it off.  I probably tried a few times to get it just right. (The Yupo surface mars easily; one cannot make corrections easily.)  If I had not told you, you would not have thought it was a Yupo painting.  It has an airy, serene, whispering quality.  Which painting do you like better?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

"Inauguration Day US Capitol" (oil on linen; 8" x 6") sold


A few days before the Inauguration in January, the US Capitol was decked with huge flags.  The sliver of the noon time moon was hung right by the dome.  At that time, I was suffering from the shingles and was in no shape to go downtown to take pictures.  It was my husband who gladly "ran the errand" for me.  Thank you!

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

"Fountain at the National Gallery of Art" (oil on linen; 9" x 12") sold


Monday last week was my daughter's 15th birthday.  She wanted to do some water sports like kayaking or white water rafting to celebrate it.  But her dad was swamped with work.  So, instead, she suggested that she and I should go to look at Renaissance paintings at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  What?  This is the girl who used to be bored to death with the world-famous art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City a few years ago?  I was glad to oblige her request.

Outside the world-class museum on The Mall, which is also free for all to enjoy, I saw a marble fountain transformed into an enchanted fountain by dappled light.  If I hadn't told you where I found it, you could have easily believed it was somewhere in Europe! My daughter and I had a wonderful afternoon together that day.  I also got a beautiful painting out of our date.

Monday, July 1, 2013

"Golden Gate Bridge on a Stormy Day" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 16") sold


From the Marin Headlands, one can see a spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco skyline.  It is even more spectacular on a windy, stormy day when there is a break in the sky.  I did another Golden Gate Bridge painting recently, as you can see below.  The earlier painting shows the famous red suspension bridge from Baker Beach, which stretches a mile below the rugged cliffs on the Presidio's western shoreline.  You can see the Marin Headlands in the distance.

I casually mentioned to my husband how I wished I had had more references of the bridge.  He said, "Really?  I have some."  He went to his computer right away and showed me the pictures he took while visiting San Francisco on a business trip last year. That's how the second painting above came about.  I don't know what I would do without him!

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

So which painting of the Golden Gate Bridge do you like better?  By the way, I am counting today's painting as one of my June Challenge series because it has a ship in it!