Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mother and Child

When I first saw this picture as a Facebook profile picture, I said to myself I had to paint it. I thought it looked so much like a modern version of Madonna and the Child, and it's got such a great of feeling of motherly love.

This was painted with oil paint on 10"x14" stretched canvas. In the original picture, mommy was wearing glasses. I thought the glasses, with all the harsh edges, would take too much attention away from the main focus, so I dropped the glasses, with mommy's consent. I also wanted the picture to have a feeling of mommy and baby are in heaven. So I dropped all the things in the background, house, wall, neighbor's house, and used a tone of white instead.

It started out as a sketch. Then I did a burnt umber underpainting. After that, I did a black and white underpainting for all the flesh parts, but went straight to color for the other parts, such as clothing, and the mother's hair, since I didn't see much value doing a black and white underpainting on the non-flesh parts.

After the black and white underpainting dried, it was time to do skin color. I used Rowney's flesh tint, adding in some raw sienna a touch of gold orche as needed, and also a little olive green for the mother's Asian skin color. Shadows were combination of brown madder, red violet, blue gray, ultramarine blue, ultramarine violet, and olive green.

The baby's skin tone was more Caucasian than Asian, as she's a mix. So there was very little yellow and no olive green in the skin color. Light pink and some flesh tone were the predominant colors, toned down with red violet and blue gray. The baby's skin also showed bluish tone in some places as her skin was so fragile.

The mommy's hair was a combination of different colors: Reddish brown, Van Dyck brown, raw umber (a yellowish brown and is a great color for hair), violet gray and a touch of black, violet some orange.

The highlights in mommy's hair, shoulder and hand were in lemon yellow (cold color). The shadows were warm. In the beginning, I had a yellowish white as the background. However, Oxana pointed out that the faces were in warm shadow, so it was best to have a cool color background. So I changed the background to a cool light blue, more specifically, white with a touch of Gamblin's radiant blue.

It took me about 3 weeks (including drying time), to do this. My next challenge is to take this on a long haul flight back!

Abstract Orchid

This is a semi-abstract painting of an orchid. It's oil on 20"x26" stretched canvas.

This painting was done at Anastasia Art. Oxana wanted us to do abstract paintings on flowers. I was a bit lost. I could paint a realistic flower, but I had no idea even where to begin to paint an abstract flower. Then when I visited San Francisco a couple of months ago, I checked out a Georgia O'Keeffe book from the library. Georgia O'Keeffe had a done quite a few abstract flowers, and she basically enlarged the flowers so big that people had to look at her painting closely to figure out what she was painting. So I thought, I would pull a "Georgia O'Keeffe" on the orchid.

I wanted the flower really big, but I wanted the center of the flower to be off-centered. So I put it around the "golden ratio" spot. I started with an underpainting in lemon yellow and brilliant pink, diluted with turpentine, and painting the first layer like a water painting. Then I gradually built it up with more paint. The center of the flower needed to have more more intense color and more texture. The texture was done with a palette knife and very thick paint. This particular orchid had beautiful veins, so to showcase that, I also used palette knife for the veins.

After a couple of months, I'm finally done! I'm glad the color turned out quite brilliant. I look forward to doing more interesting things at Anastasia Art after the summer.

Glass jar and clothespins

This is for June 2010 Rookie Painter challenge. It's oil on 10x10" canvas board.

This is a good exercise on trying to draw a glass jar. The front two clothespins have a bit of perspective element in it. The glass jar is tinted blue, so the clothespins inside the jar would be a bit greener than the two outside. The jars has a lot of markings on the outside, I just kept the "Ball" label, as I thought the other words would clutter up the jar. I also kept the background and the table top relative light. I thought the table cloth ripples under the glass table top is kinda neat to keep in this relative plain background.

Purple Park Bench

This is for June 2010 Wordpress challenge. It's oil on 8"x10" canvas board.

The reference photo has several purple park benches. Drawing the whole bench, with shadows and all would be a perspective nightmare, so I thought. What I saw, at least in the beginning, was the curved legs of the benches looking like purple treble clefs, with the shadows looking like the lines in a music score, being a pianist myself. So I thought it would be neat to paint the legs of the benches to look like purple treble clefs.

As I started to sketch, it turned into a perspective nightmare, even with just the legs and the shadows. (I wished I had taken a short cut using tracing paper!) The lines were so complicated with free hand. I was running out of time, having a few other paintings to finish, and I needed to pack for our trip also. I did what I could, trying to emphasize the center park bench legs to look like treble clefs, in the middle of all the busy lines. At the end, I think this looks more like a spider web with a purple spider in the middle, and I will be getting vertigo if I keep looking at this painting any longer!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Catching the Wave

Since I will be doing a bit of traveling the end of this month, I decided to do some of these painting challenges early. This one is for Virtual Paintout's June 2010 challenge, Hawaii. It's oil on 10"x12" canvas board.

At this time, only the islands of Oahu and Maui have Google street map. What I saw in Google street map were mostly palm trees and beautiful beaches. Since I did palm trees a couple of months ago for the Canary Island challenge, I wanted to look for something more Hawaiian. I stumbled upon a place called the Wawamalu Beach Park on Oahu and there were people surfing and watching others surfing. (ref photo)

I had to compress the scene so that the main things I wanted to include, the cresting wave and the guy sitting on the bench, could fit onto my limited canvas. There are actually other interesting paintable scenes at this park that if I have the time, I may try to paint too. I also used several of my ocean blues: Old Holland's carribean blue, coeruleum, also some prussian blue, ultramarine violet, and whites. I also used a small fan brush for the flying ocean mist, and palette knife for the sea foam. Gold orchre and raw sienna were the base color for the golden beach.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Boys in Sydney

The original picture was taken about a year and a half ago when we went to Australia. We spent a few days in Brisbane where we took the kids to places like the Australia Zoo, Seaworld, and Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary (we highly recommend this sanctuary since not only can you hold the Koalas, you can also feed the kangaroos and they come right up to you and let you pet them!) We spent a couple of days in Sydney, and of course we had to hit the typical tourist attractions, e.g. the Sydney Opera House.

I kept the background, the opera house, the ocean water, rather loose using bigger strokes. With the two faces, I tried to do the "flemish" technique where I painted the faces black and white first, let it dry, and then put on a color layer.

The color on the faces were not simple, especially with the shadows. As the picture was taken roughly at noon, the sun was shining right down at the face. The part of the face that's in shadow, but faced upward actually got a cooler shadow as the color of the sky was reflect there, where as the part of the face that's in shadow but facing down got a reflection from the red jacket and thus a warm shadow.

This painting passed the "Heidi" test, as she actually recognized who were in the painting, so I figured I couldn't have been too far off.

Porcelain Birds

This is for June 2010 Rookie Painter challenge. It's oil on 8"x10" canvas board.

The pair of porcelain birds were originally on white background in the reference photo. I thought white birds on white background would be very difficult to see. I didn't what to go to black since it would be too monochromatic. Originally I went with a lilac color, but the value was still too close to the birds, so I darken part of the background with more purple, and adding a touch of Asphaltum (a new color I got from Gamblin, a nice dark brown).

With the porcelain birds, there were so many shades of white. The porcelain itself is a bit yellowish and bluish, reflecting this purplish background I made up. I had also need to make sure the different shades of white were blended and there were no hard edges.