Friday, October 29, 2010


This is for Rookie Painter, Oct 2010 challenge, the Window. It's oil on 8x10 canvas board.

I changed some elements from the original picture (ref photo). I made the picture landscape instead of portrait since I wanted the focus to be more on the window. In order to make the window appear less symmetrical, I opened one side of the window and created a sense of breeze coming in by making the left curtain sway. I also made the window frame darker so that it won't stand out as much. In the original photo, there were so many folds on the blanket that it looked almost like someone could be inside the blanket. So I gave a slightly more explicit hint of a person there.

The canvas was prepared by a black acrylic ground. The palette is relatively limited in this painting: yellow orchre, terra verte, raw and burnt umber, ultramarine violet, ultramarine blue, lemon yellow, white, and Portland greys.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


This is oil on 6x8" canvas board. My little one asked me to do a painting of him. Since I was preparing the under painting for the gondola ride painting, I prepped one more canvas board for this painting. The ground is black and red oxide acrylic mix, but more on the red oxide than the gondola one. This is a quick oil exercise for me. I used yellow orchre, cadmium orange, cadmium red, madder, ultramarine violet, terre verte, lemon yellow, white, burnt sienna, black.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Venice Sunset Gondola Ride Prototype

This is a quick prototype painting for a larger work I'm working on. It's oil on 6x8" canvas panel. This quick limited color work is a nice contrast the previous work I did with lots of bright colors.

The picture was originally taken by my grandmother when she visited Venice over a decade ago. The lighting and contrast are very interesting in this picture. When I saw it, it reminded me of some of Whistler's Nocturne paintings: limited palette and atmospheric.

So I did a little bit of research on the internet on Whistler's painting method, especially for his Nocturnes. He seemed to have use dark ground, and then he mixed oil paint with say turpentine and painted it like water color, and allowing the dark ground to show through. He took great care of the values in his paintings. I did this quick prototype with this method, using a mixture of black and red oxide acrylic as ground, and thinned oil with just cadmium orange, prussian blue, black, and white. Now I can visualize the picture on a smaller canvas, it helps me to work on a larger canvas.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Twin Doors - San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

This is for Virtual Paintout October 2010 challenge, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It's oil on 8x10 canvas board.

The only place I've been to in Mexico is Cancun, and I have no idea where San Miguel de Allende is. So I was browsing in Google Map. The impression I got was the buildings were so colorful, the sky was so blue, there were so many bright colors there.

So I picked a simple composition, two doors, plant with flowers, and the sky. (ref photo) I liked the orange color wall contrasting to the blue sky, and I like the plant hanging over the walls. I also wanted this painting to have more intense colors. In the original photo, the sun was shining from the top but slightly from the back side of the wall, so there were no strong shadows casted. However, as I started to paint, I thought something was lacking. So I moved the position of the sun slightly so that there will be strong long shadows casted, referring to the wall on the opposite side of this street as needed for the shape of the shadows.

The colors used in this painting included cobalt blue, cadmium orange, terra rosa, ultramarine violet, lemon yellow, sap green, tree green, viridian, ultramarine blue, magenta, yellow orchre, Portland grey dark medium light, raw umber, burnt sienna and sepia.

Farm House Van Gogh Style

This painting was done with oil on 20x26" stretched canvas at the Anastasia Art House.

The mission for the project was to do a painting in van Gogh's style. I picked a relatively simple composition - farm house and trees. At first I thought van Gogh's paintings were mostly bright contrasting color and big strokes. Not until I started working did I have an appreciation of van Gogh's style was actually not as simple as it seemed.

For one thing, there was actually a system in his loose brush strokes. The colors were actually "traveling" in groups, rather than a stroke here and there. Attention to contrasting color was also apparent in his brush strokes as well.

Before I started with the painting, I looked up a Van Gogh book that I had. I liked the depiction of the clouds in his Starry Night painting, and also the trees in his Cypress paintings. So I thought I would use some of those van Gogh elements in my painting.

The main contrasting colors were blue and orange, and other colors "derived" from these colors to stay coherent. The clouds were not exactly spiral like the Starry Night, as I wanted them to look like ribbons in the sky instead. The trees on the left were modeled after Van Gogh's Cypress trees. Strong straight edges were changed to curves to be consistent with the overall curved feeling in this painting.

After this exercise, I definitely have a new appreciation for Van Gogh's paintings.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Four Fall Leaves

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

In the original reference photo, the background was white, and the leaves were farther apart. (ref photo) I was debating what to do with the background, whether to keep it white, to make it complementary (blue), or analogous. I wanted the simple leaves to reflect the rich color of fall, like brown, orange, red. So I decided the painting would go with the analogous color scheme.

The background underpainting is an acrylic mixture of mars black, burnt umber, and yellow orchre. Big brush strokes were used to make the background with a wood impression. Cadmium yellow is the main color for the leaves, mixed in with alizarin, madder, ultramarine violet, sap green, raw umber, burnt sienna, yellow orchre and some white. The shadows needed to be darker than the already dark background. So I used some ultramarine blue, ultramarine violet, and black.