Saturday, May 22, 2010

Swans under a Bridge - Prague, Czech Republic

This is for Virtual Paintout May 2010 Czech Republic challenge. It's oil on 10"x14" canvas board. The location for this painting is Rašínovo nábřeží, Prague, Prague, Česká republika.

This Google map picture caught my eyes because of its strong contrasting elements: the strong and dark foreground bridge, and bright white swans, and sky and city scene through under the bridge. People sitting and feeding the swans add some more interest to the painting. I also added a small corner of the road at the bottom right had corner, as a reminder there was a Google van there. (similar to another Virtual Paintout painting I did a couple of months ago)

Water Parade Reflection

This is for Word Press May 2010 challenge. It's oil on 8"x10" canvas board.

The reference photo for this challenge is Rose Festival in Portland Oregon, there are some parade boats on a river. I thought the picture was very busy, but what caught my eye the most was the water and the reflection of one of the boat's tail. So I decided to paint a semi abstract painting, of the water and the reflection. The boat's tail had bright red and white stripes, looking almost like a Chinese dragon boat. That's why there's red and white mixed in the water reflection.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Yellow Tulips

This is the May 2010 Rookie Painter challenge. It's oil on 10"x12" canvas board.

This web site has good still life challenges. The reference picture had a pot of tulips, with a yard chair and deck in the background. I decided I was just going to paint the flowers, with its leaves. The pot, the chair, the deck were too much noise for me. I wanted to show delicate flower petals under the sun, and I wanted to show leaves as they made the flowers "dance". I decided to use a dark background for a strong contrast with the flowers, and to make the flowers "pop". (It's actually black mixed with ultramarine blue and violet. It's kinda hard to see.)

It took me a couple of hours of careful sketching, especially on the leaves. I had to artificially shrink the stems from the reference photo so everything will fit onto my canvas. I wanted to make sure the middle flower does not fall in the middle of the canvas but yet the flowers are big enough to catch the eyes and yet keeping the proportion. I had also to decide what leaves to keep or not keep in the painting. The placements of the leaves are somewhat different from the reference photo now I shrunk the stems.

I did a quick underpainting, flowers and stems in yellow orchre acrylic, and background in mars black and ultramarine blue acrylic. With the color, leaves I used tree green and sap green, darken with complimentary red color, while the flowers I used cadmium yellow on the warm part, lemon yellow and my new Gamblin radian yellow on the sunny part with lots of white, darken with complimentary purple. I used Kolinsky brushes number 1 and 2.

It took me a few hours to do just the leaves. I thought to myself, man, these leaves sure are complicated, with so many shapes and shades. The leaves could be an abstract painting on their own! The flowers were relatively easier, although I had to make sure I didn't add too much purple to make the shadows too strong.

I'm glad the painting turned out ok. I kinda like the middle flower jumping out at you. I was also glad I had my Kolinsky brushes whose tips go back to shape, unlike some of my other brushes where the tip frizzes out after a while.

Brick and Leave

This was for April Word Press challenge, it's oil on 8"x10" canvas board. The reference picture was a brick wall, with some pipes and leaves. At first I was like, oh geez, what am I gonna do with this brick wall. Then I recently checked out a book from the library on Georgia O'Keeffe, since I am doing an abstract flower painting at Anastasia Art, and I had no idea how to do an abstract painting.

O'Keeffe did many abstract flower paintings, and she bascially enlarged the object so big and she only painted a portion of the object and people had to look at the painting closely to see what it is. She had several paintings with leaves, showing veins and light and shades. So I thought, I would do a Georgia O'Keeffe on this brick wall. Of course mine is nothing like the great master.

Canary Island - Spain

This was for April 2010 Virtual Paintout challenge. The city in April was Canary Island. I searched all over and there were many possibilities. My husband liked this picture with strong lines, so I gave it a tried.

There was a very strong perspective element in this, so I spent a bit of time sketching, with all the perspective lines, the center being in the ocean next to the red building. When I was painting the palm trees, it felt like I was painting bamboo leaves in Chinese brushing painting! I thought the tree shadows were interesting. Oxana commented that this painting was lacking in theme. Probably, but it was definitely a good study in perspective.

Tea Kettle and Books

This was for the April 2010 Rookie Painter challenge. The reference picture actually got good composition, I thought, so I painted the picture as is. It's oil on 10"x12" canvas board.

I spent more time painting the tea kettle, which is basically a reflection of the scene around it. It used the mixture of ivory black, burnt umber, and ultramarine blue to make black, and kept taking out half of the mixture and adding in white. I ended up with about 12 shades of grey, plus black and white, and painted the kettle with number 1 and 2 brushes. I also found that painting the straight edges for the books to be very challenging, free handed and making sure my hands were not shaking! I kept out all the book titles since those would distract from the tea kettle, and I kept the books not too painted so the focus can be on the tea kettle.

Fluffy Bird

I saw a picture with three little fluffy birds at Studio Atelier challenge, and I had to paint this fluffy one since he was SO cute. I wanted to show the fluffy texture of the little birdie, you almost want to hold it with your two hands.

I did a quick underpainting in yellow orchre and burnt umber acrylic paints, like water color. Then I used oil paint with my number 1 and 2 brushes, to show fluffy feathers. I also tried my new tube of Gamblin Colbat Teal on the ground and background. Oil on 8"x10" canvas board.

Winter Sunset Snow Scene

This was done at Anastasia Art, oil on 36"x26" stretched canvas. It took me a couple of months to do. It's got a cool color sun reflecting into warm color river. The sunset gives the snow a bit of coral red glow. Getting the snow, especially the ice and snow floating in the water, was a bit tricky. The floating ice was darker, but I couldn't use dirty color (Oxana's term. That means greys or muddy color I guess) Hmmm. I felt like I was a chemist, cooking up different colors and hoping they weren't "dirty". At end, I decided violet grey was a great color (I should buy a tube for myself at home).

Heidi Picking Red Fruits

We took this picture last December in Taiwan when we were up at the Big Snow Mountain (we didn't see any snow tho). Heidi was just running and playing around, and she was picking off all these little red fruits. I had no idea if they were poisonous, good thing she didn't eat them.

The painting was done quickly, so the strokes especially for the background were very loose. I liked how light bounced off her hair and jacket, and her face was in the shadow. I had to repaint her face twice since I didn't get the shadow color quite right the first time. Oil on 9.5"x12.5" paper.

Mary Magdalene - Italian Renaissance

This was for Follow the Masters March 2010 challenge, Italian Renaissance. It's oil on 12"x12" canvas board.

I was always curious how the Renaissance style paintings got their special look, a bit yellowish, and portraits where almost every face is glowing like porcelines. So I did some research on the internet, and saw some instructions on You Tube. People had used something called the Flemish style painting, where the canvas were primed, and layers of underpaintings were done in brownish color and then black and white before color is finally applied. The color layers were applied thinly as artists often times had to make their own color instead of like us today just buy tubes of color from the art stores or off the internet.

Before I started I had to chose what painting to do. I wanted to do something relatively non-complicated in terms of composition, and I didn't want to do something that's too common. So I looked around and found Italian Renaissance painter Giovani Bellini's Mary Magdalene. It's actually part of a bigger painting,
"Madonna with Child, and St. Mary Magdalene and St. Catherine". I liked the facial expression, she even had a double chin! So I had to paint this real woman.

So I first sketched the head, then put a layer of brown acrylic, followed by a layer of thinned out brownish greenish oil. When the oil layer was dried, about a week, I did the burnt umber layer, thinning out burnt umber oil paint, and painting it like using water color.

After that layer was dried (about another 1 week), I did another layer in black and white. The black and white layer is supposedly what gives that "Renaissance glow". Before I did the black and white layer, I rubbed the canvas with linseed oil, I even used half an onion to rub the canvas! With the black and white, I used 2 part ivory black, 1 part burnt umber, and a bit of ultramarine blue. With this mixture, I kept taking out half, adding about a part of white to the remaining, until I got something very close to white. I think I got about 10 shades of grey from this. I used several very small brushes, applying the greys, and using a small soft hair brush to blend out the color. This is where I paid a little more attention to the hair.

After the black and white layer was dried, about another week, I then applied color. By this time, I was already under the gun for the challenge's deadline. So I only did the first layer of color. If I had more time, I think the painting could use more refinements, and it can definitely use a layer of glazing to deepen the tone and give it a "bling" effect. I think going forward if I do more portraits, I would consider doing a layer of black and white underpainting to the face to give it "the glow".

Starvanger Norway

I've never been to Norway before, and this painting was done using Google Map for the Virtual Paintout March 2010 challenge. It's oil on 10"x12" canvas board.

It was fun poking around Google Map for something I wanted to paint. There were several possibilities, I chose this one because it's very inviting to the viewer. You almost feel like you want to jump in and join the biker. The road slanted from lower left going up to the right also gives you the inviting feeling. It's got interesting roofs with a boat hiding in between, and I liked the shadows too, although when I had to paint the shadows, getting the right orientation was a bit tricky. I even left a bit of the road at the bottom right hand corner, as reminder there was a Google van there!

Birch Tree and River Reflection

This was for March 2010 Word Press challenge. Oil on 10"x12" canvas board.

The original picture I thought was a bit busy. So I decided to focus instead on one side of the river, and focusing on light shadows and reflections of the birch trees. Oxana had told me about a Russian impressionist painter Igor Grabar, and one of his paintings is called February Azure. So my painting is kinda inspired by Grabar's style, especially the vertial treatment of the sky in the negative spaces among the tree branches.

Bowls and Pot

This was for March 2010 Rookie Painter challenge. Oil on 9.5"x12.5" paper. I had to rearrange the bowls, even move the garbage disposer to other side, trying to balance out composition.

Sausalito 488 Bridgeway

I saw this Virtual Paintout blog at the end of Feb, couple of days before this challenge was due. It lets people use Google map to paint a street scene for a different city every month. Feb was San Francisco. I thought Sausalito would be a
good place to look.

I thought this scene got interesting composition (there was really a seagull looking at the camera in Google map), it also kinda represented the laid back Californian attitude. Even better, when we visited San Francisco a few months ago, we had brunch at this little Dutch diner that made excellent raspberry pancakes, and this diner was also on Bridgeway, not too far from where this picture was taken.

Snow in New York

This painting was for the Follow the Master Feb 2010 challenge, and was modeled after Robert Henri's Snow in New York, done with oil on 9.5"x12.5" paper. It's a good study on pespective. The center of the perspective is in the far distant building, and the painting started out as a drawing of pespective lines, like the rays from the sun.

The original painting was grey in the background, and the buildings in the foreground were very dark, and there were pops of bright red on various people and yellow mud. I started with light layer of paints, gradually built up. I kept the foreground buildings lighter than the original since for one I couldn't see too well from the internet photos what the darknes were intended to be. The snow on the top half of the painting was various light grey, sprayed on with a tooth brush. The snow was done using shades of grey and white with a palette knife.

Pennsylvania Snow Scene

This snow scene was for the feb 2010 Word Press challenge. I was doing another snow scene painting at Anastasia Art so this painting was leveraging what I had done there. The snow was different shades of blue and violet. This was done oil on 9.5"x12.5" paper.

Three Oranges

The three oranges were painted for Feb 2010 Rookie Painter challenge. Oil on 9.5" x12.5" Paper.

These oranges were actually more difficult to paint than they look. First, there was light shining from upper right side, then there was light bouncing off the table cloth, and there was light bouncing off each orange to the other oranges. Then it took me two tries to get the right color. First I mixed orange with cadmium yellow, and I just couldn't get the right orange color. Then I realized I needed to mix in a cool yellow, i.e. lemon yellow. It was a "duh" moment for me - lemon, orange, citrus - should have figured.

Finally I realized the background was not all black. There was light coming from the window. So I used a very deep grey to paint in a suggestion of the window in the back. I left the table cloth rather rought since there was enough detail on the oranges so I left the table cloth rather unpainted, except for the light reflections. I was glad the oranges finally looked like oranges.

Bay Water

Sometime in January 2010, I discovered that there were a number of painting challenges on the internet. There are so many good artists doing these challenges. As they said the challenges are open to all levels, I figure I would give it a try. I thought it would be interesting to see how the same picture would be interpreted so differently through different pairs of eyes and artistic senses.

The first one I did, Bay Water, was for January 2010 Word Press Challenge, done with oil paint on 9.5"x12.5" paper. It was a bit tricky to capture waves coming ashore, and sunlight reflecting from the waves, and showing clear water all at the same time. This picture looks better when viewed from far away then close up. (This means I will keep painting water until they look good both from near and far!)

Sun Moon Lake Water

We visited Taiwan in December 2009, and Sun Moon Lake was one of the places we visited. The mountains surrounding lake looks like they came straight out from a Chinese brushing painting landscape scene. One of the pictures I took was the gentle rippling of the lake reflecting morning sunlight. I thought it would be cool to try to paint it. It's oil on 9.5"x12.5" paper.

This picture also reminds me of an artist Clifford Smith, whose ocean wave paintings we saw in a gallery on Martha's Vineyard a few years ago. We were so awe struck by the simplicity of his paintings, yet so mesmerizing. My husband almost bought one of his paintings, but they were so pricy. So everytime we go back to the Vineyard, we try to visit the same gallery. Now it also gives me more incentive to practice painting the water!

Water Lillies

This painting took me almost 3 months at Anastasia Art to do. It's acrylic with texture paste on 36"x26" stretched canvas.

I first put texture paste in the shapes of the leaves using a palette knife. It felt like I was spreading icing on a cake! Then I used even more texture paste to make flower petals. Oxana came up with the idea of mixing the texture paste with glue, and made it into a more fluid consistency, and put droplets of the mixture on the leaves to give it the round bumps for the water droplets. This whole process took me over 8 hours to do.

Then it was acrylic paint. I first tried a thicker consistency of the acrylic paint for the upper right hand leaf. It looked ok, wasn't great. So Oxana suggested to mix the acrylic paint with water, so it looks more like water color. So each leaf got a few layers of this watered-down acrylic paint to deepen the green.

The flowers took forever. Since the acrylic paint dried quickly, it was hard to correct mistakes. I also used a lot of tissues to blot away the paint on each petal in order to give some highlight. Then there were different shades of purple for the shadow. The flower petals were really tedious work!

Finally it was the under water scene. There were branches, young leaves, and flower buds under water. I had to make sure they didn't stick out like sore thumbs and yet visible.

So after 3 months of slaving away, I was glad it was finally done! I was ready to move onto something else.

Water Lilly Practice

I was doing water lilly at Anastasia Art, and I needed to practice painting a water lilly, with pedals and different light and shades. I saw a video on a You Tube painting a water lilly. So I modeled after that and did my own version here. It's oil on 9.5"x12.5" paper.

Row Boat Practice

Here's a quick boat study I did, inspired by another person's painting I found on the internet since I liked the blue and white contrast. It's oil on 9.5"x12.5" paper.

Tuscan Landscape

This is the first oil painting I did in fall 2009, at Anastasia Art House in Hong Kong with instructor Oxana Shinkarenko. This was painted oil on 36"x26" stretched canvas. It was a bit intimidating in the beginning to be given with such a big white stretched canvas, having never done an oil painting before. I had some pencil sketching and Chinese brush painting background, but I have not done any serious painting or drawing for about 20 years before this. It felt good when the painting was done at the end, and it got me hook!