Thursday, April 30, 2015

"White Lilacs and Narcissus" (oil on stretched canvas; 10" x 10" x 1 3/8")

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My days are busy keeping up with the fleeting beauty of spring flowers in my paintings, in addition to gardening and enjoying the weather!  I put white lilacs and narcissus from my garden in a painted porcelain vase and came up with this enchanting still life.  How active the background should be is the ongoing quest of mine this year; for this gentle still life, I went for a calm, smoky background.  By the way, painting lilacs is a kind of aromatherapy!

Dipping my feet in the cool creek water during the walk with my daughter. We seized the day!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Young Van Gogh" (oil on stretched canvas; 14" x 11") sold


As I finished "Livia in Straw Hat" in two weeks, which was supposed to be a four-week pose, the teacher Danni Dawson suggested that I should paint the other model in the adjoining room.  Excellent!  This red-haired and bearded young model in a cool Havana hat reminded me of Vincent van Gogh the moment I saw him a few weeks ago, so I readily accepted the offer.

The head-and-shoulders portrait fell into place quickly, but it was the background that troubled me.  In the end, I painted it in the hot, van Gogh-like colors, because that's how I felt about the model--a brooding artist himself.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Red Camellias" (oil on linen; 8" x 8")

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Camellias of the passionate red hue!  I have a small white camellia bush that has suffered weather damage last winter.  Only few buds opened this spring.  Someday I will paint from the photo below!

A white camellia with a yellow daffodil from my garden.

Friday, April 24, 2015

"Flute Practice" (oil on linen; 9" x 12") nfs


My daughter in flute practice.  She is playing C. Charminade's "Concertino"--a dreamy, dramatic, and difficult piece.  She is enraptured in the beauty of the music!

Why black and white?  It is the class assignment by Danni Dawson.  I was allowed to use only three "colors"--white, Torrit gray, and black.  Torrit gray is by Gamblin, made from the previous year's leftover paints.  It varies from year to year.  This year's batch seems quite warm, so I decided to use it for the skin tone, flute, and background.  The hair and shirt were painted with ivory black and the cool gray mixtures of the black and titanium white.  I must say I enjoyed the challenge!

The black and white palette: ivory black, Torrit gray, and titanium white.

I started blocking in.  This year's Torrit gray seems quite warm.  Compare it (the background color) with the cool gray mixed with ivory black and titanium white.  It will be good for the skin tone in this extremely limited palette painting.

"Flute Practice" is all blocked in.

A little more developed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

"Bishop's Garden Spring" (oil on stretched canvas; 14" x 11") sold


On the grounds of the famous Washington National Cathedral in Washington, DC, there is a lovely garden, called Bishop's Garden. Its focal point is an old, octagonal, stone gazebo. If you visit the garden on a sunny afternoon in April, you will be greeted by the charming scene captured in the painting.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Livia in Straw Hat" (oil on stretched canvas; 18" x 14") sold


This spring I started taking a portrait/figure class with Danni Dawson at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA. It is exciting to paint from life, not a photograph, with the immediate feedback from the renowned portrait painter.  I am hugely encouraged by my first attempt, which I am sharing here with some step-by-step photos.

Week 1: I quickly drew the subject in burnt umber and established the light/dark pattern.

Week 1: I started blocking in.

Week 1: I got this far at the end of the first week's session. 

Week 2: The model's gentle smile is beginning to emerge.

Week 2: Many small adjustments later, the painting is almost done.  I realized I made her left shoulder too narrow. After the fixing the error, the subject is now too large for the  canvas.  Next time, I am going to use a larger canvas!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"Magnolia Season" (oil on stretched canvas; 14" x 11")

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 A grove of magnolias at their peak on a beautiful day is the ultimate spring delight.  I have been checking upon this grove at the Green Spring Gardens Park in Alexandria, VA, to catch it at the right moment, which I did a few days ago!

I just started blocking in with opaque paints over the transparent underpainting.

All blocked in.

Now my job is to make these trees look like magnolias, not just any flowering trees with pink flowers.

A little more developed.

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Wendell" (oil on linen; 10" x 10") sold


"Wendell" is for Richard, who commissioned the portrait as his wife's birthday present.  Wendell is an English bulldog; in the portrait, he is a puppy.  Richard wanted to have something of his wife's in the painting as he is "her" dog.  He came up with the idea of her running shoe and its photo; I came up with the design.  I think the portrait turned out rather well with a humorous narrative!

Reference photo for "Wendell"

Reference photo for the running shoe

Sunday, April 5, 2015

"Life is a Bowl of Peaches" (oil on stretched canvas; 8" x 8" x 3")

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Ripe peaches from a farmers market in a silver bowl.  Ah, life is a bowl of delicious, ripe peaches, or it should be!  This is an old painting that I "fixed" last night in this busy week of my daughter's spring break and the Easter holiday.  I hope I made it more interesting!

"Life is a Bowl of Peaches" (original state)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Collage of My March 2015 Paintings

The collage of My March 2015 Paintings

March is out!  It was a strangely cool March, slowing down the arrival of flowers in my garden.  Despite the uncooperative weather, I've painted many spring flowers from the last year's pictures, as you can see from the above collage.  Do you have any guess on what I will be painting this month?  Spring flowers!