Friday, February 26, 2016

"Civil War Lieutenant Colonel" (oil on stretched canvas; 14" x 11")

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Steve is a military history buff and reenactment actor who also models.  He is costumed as a Civil-War lieutenant colonel in this portrait.  There was a little flutter of excitement last Thursday as a couple of gentlemen approached me at the Art League Gallery in Alexandria, VA.  They admired this painting, quite wet and yet unfinished, and showed an interest in purchasing it.  To my disappointment, they never called me back; nevertheless, I felt flattered at the compliment.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Autumn Bouquet" (pen and wash; 8.5" x 8.5")

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I have forgotten about this quick painting I have done last year.  My elderly neighbor sent me this gorgeous bouquet as a get-well/Thanksgiving gift.  I was overwhelmed at her kindness.  A bountiful bouquet of yellow and orange flowers--roses, chrysanthemums, and lilies--evokes a perfect autumn day. The orange ribbon is the icing on the cake.

Monday, February 22, 2016

"Detail from Vermeer's Milkmaid" (chalk pastel pencil on paper; 8" x 6") nfs


Johannes Vermeer's "Milkmaid" (1657–1658) is one of my favorite paintings.  A humble milkmaid in a white kerchief headdress pours milk out of a jug in the corner of a kitchen by the window.  On the table are a jumble of things--a bread basket, different kinds of bread, a crockery, and a blue glass jug--all exquisitely painted.  The expression on the young woman is even more extraordinary.  She is so focused on her menial task that one holds breath to watch her.  Her contentment and gentle demeanor transform her plain features into a beauty to be remembered.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

"Lady Alice Apples" (oil on stretched canvas; 8" x 10") sold


According to my teacher Danni Dawson, it is a lot easier to sell a still life than a portrait, since nobody wants to hang a stranger's portrait on his wall.  At auctions, Thomas Eakins's portrait sold for one-and-a-half million dollars, whereas his still life made 10 million!  I don't know whether she is pulling our legs to encourage us to do these still life studies as homework.

Her argument is that even as a portraitist, one has to be able to paint all kinds of things convincingly: flowers, musical instruments, books, furniture, pets, even landscapes!  Still lifes are with which you hone your skills at your convenience.  Do you agree with her?

This week's assignment is paint apples.  Many red apples have green bits as well, just like a
Caucasian skin tone with greenish veins.  As you know, reds and greens are complimentary colors;  mixing them together makes ugly browns, if you are careless.  So one has to learn to lay down red on top of green without making muck.  Do you think I succeeded?

Saturday, February 20, 2016

"Happy Days" (oil on stretched canvas; 18" x 18") nfs


I worked on this painting of my daughter, at the age of nine, on and off for several years; I finally feel satisfied.  The reference photo was taken during my family's vacation in northern California.  At Glass Beach, we scavenged the beach for pretty sea glasses as the sun set and the place became bathed in the golden light.

Whenever I look at this painting, my heart is filled with tenderness.  She is now a high-school senior, about to go off to college.  In my mind's eye, she is always about this big, or even younger; she is full of joy and innocence, ready to sit on my lap for a big hug.  These were the happiest days of my life.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"Belly Dancer" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 9")

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This beautiful woman is a professional belly dancer.  She was wearing her costume with sequins and all, but I had only time for a small head-and-shoulders portrait.  Two-day sessions are not enough for a full-length portrait, but gave me a sufficient time to mess up her mouth: her gentle smile now looks like a smirk!

"Bishop's Garden at National Cathedral" (oil on stretched canvas; 30" x 40") sold


This is the largest oil painting I have done as a commission and took a few weeks to complete.  The client told me that her husband proposed to her at this beautiful place--the Bishop's Garden at the Washington National Cathedral.  The painting is going to be an anniversary present to him.  Isn't that a romantic story?

Monday, February 15, 2016

"George Washington" (chalk pastel pencil; 8" x 6") nfs


I enjoy copying great masters' portraits for fun; I am learning how to use pastel at the same time.  It's tricky to make my drawings look like the originals.  This one turned out rather well and you will recognize it right away: Gilbert Stuart's famous portrait of our first president!


Wednesday, February 10, 2016

"Yellow Still Life" (oil on stretched canvas; 12" x 9")

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Danni Dawson, my teacher, assigned her portrait painting class a color study of yellow on yellow.  I put together a yellow ensemble of a lemon, banana, clementine, and cherry tomatoes with a Wedgwood oil cruet on an orange cloth.  Perhaps I learned my lesson with the red color study about the value differentiation; this one went much easier.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the painting pulsate with warmth and cheer.  No wonder I like the yellow color!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

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


"Lulabelle" is for Stu, who commissioned it for his girlfriend, Maxine.  By the time she receives the dried painting, Lulabelle, a Great Dane, will be no longer with us; she is dying of cancer and will be put to sleep next week.  Stu told me about how Lulabelle helped Maxine through her tough divorce. This portrait, I hope, will be a reminder of Lulabelle's love and loyalty.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Collage of My January 2016 Paintings

Collage of My January 2016 Paintings

It always gives me a great satisfaction to see my painting endeavors during the previous month in a collage like this.  Everyday I put in a few hours of work whether feeling inspired or not.  Then, at the end of month, I make one of these collages to realize that I have been working hard.  No growth without work!