Wednesday, August 27, 2014

"Kitty" (oil on linen; 8" x 10") sold


"Kitty" is for Melissa.  Sebastian, usually called Kitty, is a six-year-old flame point Siamese.  He is a rescue cat and was found by a police officer on a street of Chicago.  Melissa and her husband purchased him the day after they got married, so he is their honeymoon baby.  At the age of three, his bladder became blocked; he was close to death several times before finally going through surgery at a veterinarian hospital.  It was a traumatic time, but completely worth it.

Kitty is a scaredy cat and is slow to warm up.  He is also the sweetest cat Melissa has ever owned.  He loves to snuggle and follows her and her husband from room to room.  He talks a lot, especially when he wants food!  He is a master at finding the most comfortable place to take a nap.

The client sent me 10 photos, of which I picked this one.  I cropped and Photoshopped it, and decided which elements to keep and which to edit out.  I transferred the image to the Belgian linen panel I prepared (I use Claessens #66) with raw umber paint.

The transparent underpainting.
I started with the easiest colors in the opaque painting stage.

I mixing colors, I always look for the subtle warm/cool variations as well as light/dark ones of a certain color family (hue).

Sunday, August 24, 2014

"Sandcastle Builders" (oil on linen; 11" x 14") sold


Sandcastle building is a big deal at Prince Edward Island, Canada.  I even saw a park ranger doing a demonstration of how to build one at Cavendish Beach.  You need wet sand.  The girl in the painting is about to go get some sea water with her bucket!

Watercolor sketch for "Sandcastle Builders"; I cropped it for the painting and got rid of the beach bag and blue bucket on the right.

The transparent underpainting.

I started putting down opaque paints.

As usual, I developed the figures, along with the umbrella, last.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Girl with a Straw Hat (oil on linen; 12" X 12") sold


A glimpse of a girl in a blue dress with a straw hat on a sand dune in Prince Edward Island, Canada led to this painting.  I have always been attracted to landscape paintings with figure as the main interest.  Now my skills have improved to such a level that I feel confident in trying out my own vision onto canvas.  What do you think of my efforts?

Watercolor sketch for the painting

Transparent underpainting

I often develop a landscape from the faraway things first.

Developing the middle ground and foreground.  Do you get the feeling that I am avoiding the figure?  It's partly that, but it's also because I want to create a believable and livable environment for the figure first.  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Beach Boy" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


I saw a boy carrying a big yellow bucket filled with water for sandcastle building on Cavendish Beach at Prince Edward Island in Canada.  I took a picture, which turned out so well that I had to paint him!

The transparent underpainting.  Yes, I start a figure painting in the same way as florals and landscapes!

I started laying down some opaque paints.  

Now it's time to work on the figure.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

"Stargazer in the Sun" (oil on linen; 7" x 7")

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I am used to seeing the spectacularly beautiful and fragrant oriental lily, "Stargazer", at the florist shop.  So I was delighted to come across a lone stargazer blooming in a garden park.  The sun was in the perfect angle to enhance its sinuous form.  I think I made the right decision to leave the rich dark green transparent background untouched.  The flower pops out, don't you think?

The transparent underpainting.

I decided to leave the dark green background more or less untouched in this painting.

Here I am mostly done with the opaque layers; I started adding some dark dots on petals.

Monday, August 18, 2014

"Yellow Swallowtail" (oil on linen; 7" x 7")

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I do not know which is more beautiful: the yellow swallowtail or the backlit purple flowers.  I am captivated by the sunlight shining through the translucent wing of the butterfly.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

" Covered Bridge of Yesteryear" (oil on linen; 10" x 8")

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I saw this charming bridge somewhere in New Brunswick, Canada.  After trying many shots, I finally found a perfect angle when I crouched down.  The field of white daisies, purple clovers, and other wildflowers, taking up two-thirds of the frame, sweeps up to the bridge!

The transparent underpainting done.

I started building up the opaque layers and foreground wildflowers.

Friday, August 15, 2014

"Lotus Dream" (oil on linen; 10" x 8") sold


Every summer I visit a lotus pond at a nearby park to admire the noble beauty of the lotus flower.  For the rest of the year I dream about its beauty.

Here I am using a Silver Bristlon flat brush #4 for the transparent underpainting.  The drawing has a lot of straight lines, so it helps to use a new brush with nice straight edge.  The unnatural green color is viridian.

I am in the process of blocking in with opaque paints.  The challenge of this painting is differentiating many greens in lotus pads: warm/cool, dark/light, and intense/grayed.

Continuing to develop the pads.  I also changed the "background" colors.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

"Winter Moon" (oil on linen; 10" x 8")

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I decided to paint a snow painting despite the protests from a couple of my Facebook fans. They haven't quite recovered from the last winter.  Well, I have.  Besides, there is no denying the romanticism of a snowscape!

Not much drawing for this painting.  Straight to the transparent underpainting.

I got this far in less than 20 minutes.  The painting already looked finished.

Finishing the painting turned out a lot more difficult than starting it.  From here to the finished painting, it took two days, tweaking the sky, moon, grass, and snow.  It was the dots that saved the day!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

"Pink Roses in Summer Afternoon" (oil on linen; 8" x 8") sold


We visited a rose garden in New Bedford, MA during our family vacation.  It was an enchanting place.  I lingered as long as I could, which wasn't long enough.  Yesterday I painted pink roses from the garden.  By the way, Old Town in New Bedford is fabulously restored to its former glory as the world's foremost whaling port in the 19th century.

The enchanting rose garden in New Bedford, MA

Here is the transparent underpainting.  I learned this method from the popular workshop teacher Dreama Tolle Perry.  What it does, as far as I am concerned, is to help the artist to see the values and color temperatures of the project.  One also gets to approach it as mass, not lineally.  The dark rose at the bottom left was added afterwards because I realized the area needed something warm to balance the rest of the picture.

I am refining the flowers without getting too fussy.  It is hard to figure out the colors of petals in shadow.  The sensation of the blinding light is created by keeping the edges of sunlit petals fuzzy.

Fingers are an effective tool in softening edges.  Do you know edges (hard versus soft) are one of the most important things in a painting?

Monday, August 11, 2014

"Peony Glories" (oil on linen; 10" x 10") sold


I took the reference photo for the painting at the Anne of Green Gables Museum in Prince Edward Island.  Yes, they were blooming in early July!  They were past the peak, but in my painting you can't tell that.

The first step of the transparent underpainting is finished.  

The opaque layer is down.  Now my task is to make sense of the sculptural form of the flowers.  It is not an easy job because the values are so close.  All I have to go by are the close warm/cool temperature variations.

Backlit, sun-struck flowers are beginning to emerge.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

"Goldfinch in Summer Garden" (oil on linen; 8" x 10")

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I am what you call a lazy gardener.  I don't have the patience or time to trim all the deadheads. As it turns out, that is what good environmentally-minded gardeners do.  Look at the goldfinch in the reference photo below.  It is eating the seeds of the spent coneflower in my tired summer garden!

In case you are wondering why the colors are so different between the picture above and the step-by-step photos below, here is the answer.  I took the final image of the finished painting in natural light and Photoshopped it, whereas the step-by-step photos were taken with my smart phone in my studio under artificial lighting.  The painting looks very close to what you see above.

Reference photo

I just laid down the transparent underpainting.  No opaque colors or whites are used at this stage.

The second step is done.

I edited out the coneflower right below the bird.  It looks better.

I like the circular movement of the flowers.  Time to firm up stems, some flowers, and the goldfinch.  Then I will be done!