Thursday, June 30, 2016

"Julia" (oil on stretched linen; 10" x 8") gift


This beautiful young lady is my daughter's best friend since middle school.  She is a straight-A student and an accomplished pianist and artist, which makes her choice of college major difficult.  For now, she will be an "arts and sciences" major at the University of Virginia.  Hopefully, the two girls will share a dorm room.  The portrait is my graduation present for Julia, as she embarks on her higher education and adulthood.  I wish you my very best!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

"Baby Emperor Penguins" (watercolor on paper; 6" x 6")

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Whenever I work on an animal series in watercolor, emperor penguins are always one of the first animals I paint.  How can you resist their quirky beauty and resilient life story in the Antarctica?  Have you ever seen "March of the Penguins," the 2005 French feature-length nature documentary, narrated by Morgan Freeman?  If not, you must!

Here a couple of baby emperor penguins huddle together for warmth. Instead of fussing over the fuzzy texture of the fur, I used granulating paints, such as Holbein mineral violet.  For the black head and feet, I used ivory black, which may sound natural to you, but it is a major breakthrough for me.  There are many "stupid" rules in the world of watercolors; one of them is NEVER use black.  Why not?  I think it looks rather punchy, don't you agree?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

"Bountiful Peony Bouquet" (watercolor and oil pastel on paper; 10.5" x 15.5")

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With this peony painting, I did something unusual and crazy.  After finishing the painting, I decided not to leave the background pure white.  I first tried several vertical stripes of dark colors, which made the background come forward.  Oops.  How about dark squiggly lines in oil pastel over those random stripes?  Then, I spritzed water where the flowers met the background to soften the edges.  It was a complete mess!  Finally, I strengthened the now fuzzy-looking bouquet with white gouache and dark paints.  I think the result looks rather dramatic and contemporary.  What do you think?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

"Group Hug" (watercolor on paper; 7" x 10")

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The mother, aunt, and baby African elephant are having a group hug!  By the way, how do you like the not-realistic colors on the elephants?  African elephants are known for their intelligence, loyalty, strength, etc., but not for their beautiful colors.  So I used the artistic license to suggest the intense heat of the African savanna.

Monday, June 20, 2016

"Baby Giraffe" (watercolor on paper; 7" x 5")

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I have been working on watercolors lately although I haven't shared them on my blog because many are what I consider sketches.  Here is a painting of a little wobbly but adorable baby giraffe.  More watercolor paintings to come, I promise!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

"Jefferson Memorial Glow" (oil on linen; 8" x 10")

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The Jefferson Memorial at the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC, during the National Cherry Blossom Festival becomes a lavender jewel as the sun sets and bathes the beautiful structure in golden light.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

"US Capitol Nocturne" (oil on linen; 12" x 9") sold


The US Capitol's dome turns golden against the dark night sky. The seat of the US Congress and the equestrian statue of Ulysses S. Grant and their blurry reflections in the Capitol Reflecting Pond make the image hauntingly beautiful.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"After Vermeer's 'Milkmaid'" (oil on gessoboard; 10" x 8") sold


You may recognize that the above painting is detail of the Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer's "Milkmaid" (circa 1658).  The original hangs in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which regards it as "one of the museum's finest attractions"

My copy is a class assignment by Danni Dawson, painted over the period of several weeks.  We were learning the grisaille method of monochrome underpainting, which was used extensively by most Old Masters in the past.  We did the underpainting with burnt sienna and ivory black paint; a thick layer of white paint went over the underpainting; then, finally, thin layers of glazes of other colors were laid on to bring out the glow.

If you mess up the underpainting, no matter what fancy glazing work you do, there isn't much you can do to rescue the mess.  But over the beautifully-done underpainting, all you need is a small amount of pigments to finish off the painting.  That is how the Old Masters maximized the effect of expensive pigments.  I must say it is a tedious way of painting, but there is no denying the exquisite glow the glazed paintings have.

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Gazelle" (oil on stretched canvas; 20" x 16")

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Here is another portrait I painted in a two-week period in May in Danni Dawson's portrait painting class.  The beautiful African-American model posed in a purple dress she made herself.  I had fun painting her braided hair as well as the satiny fabric.

Friday, June 3, 2016

"Baseball Player" (oil on stretched canvas; 14" x 11")

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As I took a month off from blogging, not from painting, I have a backlog of paintings to share.  The above portrait was done in two-week periods during Danni Dawson's portrait painting class. 

The handsome model posed as a baseball player at rest, without a shirt.  Cropped as a head-and-shoulders portrait, it didn't quite make sense.  So I made him up as the St. Louis Cardinals player!  Somehow, I dropped the letter "t" in the cap; my apologies to the Cardinals fans.  Don't you like the model's sly, side-long glance?

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"40 Years of Blessed Life Together" (oil on stretched linen; 12" x 9") sold


The double portrait was commissioned by Kate and her siblings for her parents' 40th anniversary.  The reference photo was quite faded; I kept the old look, while restoring the colors to the skin tones.  I would like to thank Kate for giving me the opportunity to paint the happiest wedding picture ever!

Kate told me the romantic story of how her parents met.  In December of 1974, they were both living in San Diego; her father was a Navy doctor and her mother, a Navy nurse, but they never crossed paths at the hospital until her mother was admitted after falling 20 feet when the sandstone cliff she was hiking on crumbled.  He was her doctor, and despite the fact that she was pretty banged up and had her jaw wired shut, he was smitten!  The day after she was released and he was no longer treating her, he asked her out.  A year and a half later, they were married.

The reference photo and finished portrait side by side!