Sunday, October 21, 2012

Fishing at Makarska Bay

This is for Virtual Paintout October 2012, Croatia challenge. It's oil on 10x12 canvas panel.

This month I'm having painter's block, having a bit of a hard time deciding what to paint. At the end I went with this fishing scene on a nice sunny cool day as my first submission. (ref)  This scene gives a nice sense of light which I usually look for. I kept the palm tree in the foreground for framing purpose.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Bailey is one of Kellie and Paul's poodles. He's comfortably taking a break on the white carpet, which acts almost as a perfect camouflage!

I did this painting for the Gamblin Torrit Grey 2012 challenge. (ref) I got my free tube of Torrit Grey while shopping at Blicks this past summer. Torrit Grey is recycled paint gathered from Gamblin's air filtration system.  I used basically three colors: Torrit Grey, Titatium White, and Ivory Black. The ground is Torrit Grey with linseed oil. It's oil on 9x12 canvas panel.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Mermaid

This is my second submission for Virtual Paintout, Sept 2012 Zealand challenge. It's oil on 10x10 canvas panel.

Typically, when I choose scenes for the Virtual Paintout challenges, I avoid common landmarks as I think they are a bit cliché. However, when I saw the Mermaid sculpture in Copenhagen, (ref) I decided to break my own rule since I like the back-lighting effect on the sculpture and the ocean behind.  I kept the composition relatively simple, and first painted the ground a reddish brown tone, some of which is showing through on the sculpture, the rock and the ocean.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Thinking Man Sculpture at the Marble Church

This is for Virtual Paintout September 2012 challenge, Zealand, Denmark, It's oil on 10x10 canvas panel.

The island of Zealand is quite scenic, and Copenhagen appears to be a beautiful city from my virtual travel. At the Marble Church in Copenhagen, there were many sculptures on the outside of the church, and this stone sculpture caught my eyes with his posture, which I interpreted to be a standing-thinking pose. (ref) I again chose a dark background, and painted the sculpture with a limited palette, trying to capture the different shades and tones of stone under the sun.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

George at Huashan

We visited Xian, China last year, and my brother George tagged along since he happened to be in Shanghai for business. We visited the famous Terracotta Warriors in Xian, and also went outside of Xian for a scenic visit to Huashan where a famous Chinese Kung Fu novel took place.  

The view was breath taking, but there were so many tourists. I took a picture of George taking pictures, and thought it would make an interesting little painting, minus all the tourists in the background.The background mountains were done using diluted oil color wash, then the person was painted on with solid oil color. I had to shorten George's legs in the painting (sorry, G) since my canvas was limited and his feet would have been at the bottom edge of the 10x14 canvas panel had I kept his proportion.  I also kept the painting rather minimalist to give an airy feel.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cow on Swiss Alps

This is for A Day Not Wasted, August 2012 challenge. It's oil on 10x14 canvas panel.

When I saw the challenge (ref), I really liked the cow against the Swiss Alps, the orange yellow color cow against the beautiful blue background. I first painted an orange color under-painting, traces of which I purposely left shown at the end. For the cow, I used mostly orange family colors, such as cadmium orange, burnt sienna, mars yellow, Indian yellow etc.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Binalong Bay - Tasmania

This is my second submission for August 2012 Virtual Paintout Tasmania challenge. It's oil on 9x12 canvas panel.

The Tasmania I saw while visiting "virtually" was mostly landscape / ocean type scenes. This scene caught my eyes because of the interesting back lighting, the far away mountain and boats versus the near ground family playing at the beach as well as the big tree that seems to pull the two separate background and foreground scenes together. (ref)  The colors were less intense than my previous submission since I was mostly interested in trying to capture the sense of light.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Bay of Fires, Tasmania

This is for Virtual Paintout, August 2012 Tasmania challenge. It's oil on 10x14 canvas panel.

I was virtually traveling on the north eastern coast line of Tasmania. The ocean was of a beautiful deep turquoise / teal color, so I thought I would do a painting trying to capture the color of the Tasmanian ocean using this scene (ref).  I took out my ocean colors such as cerulean, Old Holland Caribbean Blue, cobalt teal. I also added some hints of foot print in the sandy path to give more interest to the sand. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Coco and Tiger

When I visited California a few weeks ago, I visited my friend Kay who adopted a small kitten Coco from the Humane Society a few months ago. She was also cat-sitting another kitten Tiger whose owner was on vacation. Coco, with the pink collar, and Tiger are the best of friends, and they often play together and look outside together. 

Here they were both fascinated by something in the sky. I thought they were both so cute and I would paint them. I chose a dark background, with hint of a bookshelf indoor, while the cats were sitting on the window sill looking outside.  It's oil on 9x12 canvas panel.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Red Parrot in Chiang Mai

This is my second submission to Virtual Paintout July 2012 Thailand challenge. It's oil on 9x12 canvas panel.

I saw this parrot on the side of the street around Chiang Mai (ref). Not only did I like the color of the parrot, I also liked the shadows casted on the bird by all the branches and leaves. I also decided to change the background to black, as opposed to white, to bring out deep rich color of the bird. 

Heidi in Rice Field

This is for Virtual Paintout July 2012, Thailand. It's oil on 10x14 canvas panel.

There are lots of nice scenes to paint in Thailand. The first one I've chosen is a rice field scene just outside of Chiang Mai, which is basically a combination of this scene (ref) and this one (ref).  I like the shadow from the tall trees plus the layers of rice fields. I also wanted to use the purple / yellow green color combination. 

I painted this painting while staying with my relative in the San Francisco area. I decided to paint in my little four year old niece Heidi walking down in the path. Everyone got a nice kick out of it.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Daisies in Clay Pot

This is for Still Life Workshop July 2012 challenge. It's oil on 9x12 canvas panel.

The summer has been busy with so many trips, family visits, kids camps etc. It's been hard to find time to paint, but I thought I had to do this nice exercise on daisies in clay pot (ref), plus I get to try out some new colors I bought from Blicks a few weeks ago.

I wanted this little painting to have some contrasting colors, such as blue vs orange (background cloth vs pot), and yellow vs purple (warm color daisy petals vs those in shadow and the lavenders). For the flower petals, I used palette knife to put in heavy paint to make the flowers stand out more.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Zhou Zhuang Traffic

We went to Zhou Zhuang 周庄 in China last year. Zhou Zhuang is about an hour drive outside of Shanghai, and is known to be the Venice of China because of its many canals. People there travel via water taxi, Chinese style.  

We took many pictures during trip, and this view from a bridge I thought was interesting to paint, with the strong light on the left vs shadow on the right, the perspective element, and the many boats that seemed to be all jammed up.

I first used texture paste for the roof, palette knives were used to add in texture for the walls. This work was done at Anastasia Art House, and is oil on 24x30 canvas.

Street Violinist

This is for Virtual Paintout June 2012, Latvia challenge. It's oil on 10x12 canvas panel.

This is my second submission to this month's challenge. I saw this young street violinist outside of the Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Riga, Latvia (ref), and I thought it would made an interesting painting. (After I started on the work, I realized another artist had also done a violinist painting, using a different approach. My approach was very different, so I kept going.) 

I've made a number of changes from the Google Maps photo. I made the walls darker so that the violinist's sweat shirt and pants won't blend too much into the wall color. I've also lightened up her hair so her hair wouldn't blend into the now darker walls. I've also added a few pigeons, which appeared in a different frame around the same area in Google Maps.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Colorado Sky

This is for Studio Atelier June 2012 challenge. It's oil on 11x14 canvas panel.

This is an atmospheric layers challenge. (ref) The reference photo was this big Colorado sky with layers of mountains. I chose a smaller view than the original photo, and also moved the house which was chopped off on the right of the reference photo to be the focal point of my painting. I also lightened up the foreground a few grades in value as I thought the photograph was too dark in the foreground. The point of this painting was trying to capture layers of the landscape, include the foreground rolling hills and background far away mountains, as well as the lighting from sunset.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Old Barn

This is for A Day Not Wasted June 2012 challenge. It's oil on 12x14 canvas panel.

Since I procrastinated for the last month's challenge, I decided to do this challenge a little earlier. The reference photo is actually quite nice (ref), with good color, and nice contrast between light and dark. 

It's quite obvious from the photo that the main color theme would be blue vs orange, with the dry grass in the foreground having orange tone. I prepared the whole canvas first with a layer of yellow orchre. The background sky, mountain, trees, and orange color dry grass were painted with thin paint. The old barn and the foreground grass were done with thicker paint using palette knives.

A Bend at Gauja River

This is for Virtual Paintout June 2012, Latvia challenge. It's oil on 10x12 canvas panel.

This view is from a bridge over the Gauge River (ref). I wanted to capture the atmospheric nature of the view while keeping the scope of the painting relatively small. Thus I chose this this bend in the river. The far mountain and the mid ground trees were all different shades of greys. The colors are more intense in the foreground. I also used broken strokes for the water to give it some movement. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Alamo Square

This is supposed to be for A Day Not Wasted, May 2012 challenge. It's oil on 8x10 canvas panel.

When I first saw this challenge, I thought the idea was interesting, at the famous Alamo Square in San Francisco. (ref) However, the reference photo in my view was a bit problematic for painting. There was a limited amount of light and shadow contrast, or some may call it notan, in this very bright and sunny photograph. There was a lot of elements competing for attention, e.g. the painted ladies (old Victorian houses), the buildings behind it, the Transamerica pyramid building and the other tall brown building. 

I looked up on the internet to see if there were other Alamo Square photos. There was one with lights from inside the buildings at dusk. I thought that was interesting, but I didn't want to just copy that photo. I wanted to use that lighting idea in that photo and apply to this reference photo. So I sat on it thinking I would come revisit it before the deadline. Before I realized it, it was already June, and I've procrastinated for too long!

The challenge is not accepting anymore submissions.  However, I decided I would do this painting anyway to try out the different lighting effect, and with the bright yellow indoor lights. So I spent about three hours and did this very rough painting.  I painted the two tallest buildings out of the canvas so that the attention is not completely there, but more on the houses. There were more details inside the houses so to get people's attention there first.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Hot Cocoa Rose

This is for Still Life Workshop May challenge. It's oil on 6x8 canvas panel.

Besides the Tomatoes on the Vine that I just did, I also did this Hot Cocoa Rose challenge, since the color combination is quite nice in the reference photo. The glass of water gave this challenge extra complexity. I enjoyed the two still life challenges posted on this blog so far (ref), and will definitely try to keep up with the challenge whenever I can.

Tomatoes on the Vine

This is for Still Life Workshop. It's oil on 6x8 canvas panel.

I recently came upon this new challenge called Still Life Workshop (ref). These tomatoes on the vine were the first challenge. Although they're already onto the second challenge, I still did this first challenge because I liked the bright juicy tomatoes in contrast with a dark granite table top! So I put back on my still life thinking hat and did this small painting.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Berries and Glass

This was done at Anastasia Arthouse. It's oil on 16x20 stretched canvas.

I went to the super market one weekend and bought these big juicy strawberries for the kids (sadly I'm allergic strawberries). I took some pictures of the fruits I bought that day to do a still life painting at the painting class.  This painting took me a couple of months to do, especially with the amount of detail I had to do, for example the blue berries which I had to one by one, and all the reflective dots on the strawberries.  By the end of this painting, I've had enough of strawberries (virtually) and blue berries for a while!

Man and the Mirror

This is for Virtual Paintout, May 2012 Jerusalem Israel challenge. It's oil on 8x10 canvas panel.

This was the first scene I picked out to paint from the Old City in Jerusalem. (ref) I liked the man's reflection in the mirror and the lights casted on the man. However, I decided against it initially  because I could not see the man's face clear enough as Google blurred out all the faces, and the face would be such an important part of this painting.

After I've done the previous two paintings for this month's Virtual Paintout, I went back to look this man again. The profile of this man reminded me of someone, and then it dawned on me: Uncle Leo from the sitcom "Seinfeld"! So I looked up Uncle Leo in Google Images and got some pictures of Uncle Leo and I can finally put a face to this man. This is a more benign version of him since Uncle Leo tended to be very animated in the sitcom. To keep this painting simple so I can get done in two days time, I dropped everything else around the man except for the mirror and his reflection.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Esh Hatora

This is for Virtual Paintout, May, 2012 Jerusalem Israel challenge. It's oil with palette knife on 10x12 canvas panel.

This is my second submission to this month's Virtual Paintout. My first submission was a darker work, so I decided my second one would be the opposite, brighter. This scene outside the Esh Hatora World Center at the Jewish Quarter had nice light and dark contrast. (ref)  I heightened the color by using the orange vs blue complimentary color scheme and warm light vs cool shadow. Using palette knives  gave more interest and texture to this straight forward composition.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Old City Discussion

This is for Virtual Paintout, May 2012, Jerusalem Israel challenge. It's oil on 10x12 canvas panel.

The Old City in Jerusalem has a number of very interesting scenes, with so many people from different background there doing so many different things. There were many interesting people scenes with interesting lighting, however, most of the faces got blurred out and would be difficult to paint. This scene I chose (ref) has two main women deep in conversation at the Old City market, while two other passer-by looked on. I kept the beard guy on the left to make the composition more interesting, as we the viewer look at the women in the painting, while the man in the painting looks at us.

I wanted this scene to have a Vermeer or Velasquez type feel, with dark background, earthy tone, dramatic light coming from one side.  This turns out to be quite difficult to execute, for example, how to enhance the lighting to make it paintable, what to do with the background, how to paint the women's blurry faces. I actually had gotten stuck a few times, and had to leave the painting for few days and came back again. I now have new appreciation for these old masters in their ability to turn an ordinary scene into their beautiful paintings. They are very hard to do!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Red Garden Roses

This is for Rookie Painter May 2012 challenge. It's oil on 10x12 canvas panel.

The bright colored roses in this reference photo (ref) made it a very appealing challenge to do. It's basically a study of different shades and values of red, for which I used mainly vermilion, cadmium red neutral, magenta, rose red, Gamblin's radiant magenta, cadmium yellow, with lemon yellow for high lights and burnt sienna and ultramarine violet for shadows.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Flowers Tablecloth Bread and Cheese

This is for Studio Atelier Apr/May 2012 still life challenge. It's oil on 10x10 canvas panel.

When I first saw this challenge (ref), I thought this was such a daunting still life challenge, with so many objects in the photo. However, I liked all the colors in the reference photos, including the tablecloth, and the arrangement was very interesting, with the colorful (flowers and table) vs. the neutrals (bread and cheese). So I decided I would give it a try.

I wanted to keep most of the elements, as I thought many of them were interesting. However, I wanted to refocus the eyes to certain objects while de-emphasizing others.  The obvious choice to focus the eyes first would be the flowers, especially the yellow dahlias. I placed less emphasis on the sunflower, the lily flower buds, and the yellow flowers behind the sunflower. I couldn't completely discard the bottle of wine and the grapes since it would make the left side of the painting too empty, so I kept them, but made them to have similar values as the background to send them to background. I dropped a couple of things from the original photo: the wine glass way on the left as I thought that added nothing to the painting, and also the grass shooting out from the vase since I thought the arrangement was already busy enough. I also skipped the background blackish fabrics as well since I thought that added nothing as well to the overall composition.

The tablecloth looked a bit scary to paint at first because of the intricate design. I painted big blocks of colors, but using the same colors that appeared elsewhere in the painting in order to tie the whole thing together: blue from the background, yellow and orange from the dahlia, red from the tomatoes.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Bronze Scuplture and Two Pigeons

This is for A Day Not Wasted, April 2012 challenge. It's oil on 10x12 canvas panel.

I've never done a sculpture painting before, so I couldn't pass up this challenge (ref), especially with the nice outdoor lighting and the two pigeons! I wanted to make this painting more dramatic and to focus on the study of the sculpture, so I made the background black to contrast the bronze man bust, and used a relatively simple palette, which included mainly cerulean, cobalt teal, hooker green, ultramarine violet, Paynes grey, prussian blue, cadmium yellow and white.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Boats at Nowa Motlawa

This is for Virtual Paintout April 2012 Gdansh Poland challenge. It's oil with palette knives on 10x12 canvas panel.

This is my second submission to this month's challenge. I wanted to try something different with this painting. As I have not painted with solely palette knives before, I decided that I would give it a go. I chose this relatively straight forward boat river scene around Nowa Motlawa and Stagiewna. (ref) I had a lot of fun painting with palette knives since I had to loosen up my strokes and increase the amount of paint that I had usually used before. So I will definitely do some more palette knife paintings in the future!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bottle Collector

This is for Virtual Paintout, April 2012, Gdansk Poland challenge. It's oil on 10x12 canvas panel.

As I was virtually traveling in Poland this month, in the city of Gdansk, at least from the part I was initially seeing, it seemed all very industrial. I was having a hard time trying to figure out how to tackle all the industrial scenes, and then I came upon this man walking his dog. (ref)

What caught my eyes was not only humor in the scene, with the dog seemingly quite content with his empty water bottle, but I also liked the orange tone of the dog versus the blue tone of water and vegetation around it, plus the bald man holding a leash. Of course there was a strong contrast in light which I'm always drawn to.

I first prepared the whole canvas with ultramarine blue as a complimentary color to the dog, whose color included the orange family such as cadmium orange, burnt sienna, mars yellow etc. The rest of the painting are part of the blue or blue green family, such as cerulean, hookers green, Paynes grey etc. Cadmium yellow and white are added for the highlights.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


This is for Studio Atelier Feb 2012 tiger challenge. It's oil on 20x30 stretched canvas.

I'm a bit late in this challenge, but I couldn't pass up a good challenge photo. As the challenge said there's no drop dead deadline, I decided to take my time to work on a bigger canvas.

I wanted the tiger look even more fierce than the reference photo (ref), so I made the tiger's head straighter and looking towards the viewer, rather than slight tilting. I dropped everything else around the tiger in the background so that the focus will just be on the tiger. I also want to make the tiger to look like as if it's ready to jump out of the painting, so I made the front part higher in contrast while the back of the tiger is a bit more grey. At the end I used a very small brush to add in whiskers and fine hair detail.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Two Kettles

This is for Rookie Painter, April 2012 challenge. It's oil on 10x10 canvas panel.

This month is back to reflective kettles. The arrangements and lighting I thought were fine, so I did not alter much to the picture this time. So I basically painted as is, keeping the table top a little bit on the violet side while contrasting with the golden tone main kettle.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Young Couple on the Bridge

This is my second submission to March 2012 Virtual Paintout, St Petersburg Russia challenge. It's oil on 10x12 canvas panel.

While browsing in Google Map, I came upon this scene of a young couple on a bridge. What caught my eyes was the violet hue of the scene in contrast with the yellow sunlight hitting the leaves. (ref) I really wanted to do this because of the nice combination of color, having the cute couple there, even though a bit cliché, didn't hurt either in my view.

I first prepared my canvas with a violet acrylic base color, followed by oil color on top. I tried to limit my palette to mostly the violets, greens and yellow. The bright leaves in foreground and mid-ground provided a nice framing effect to the couple.

Lazy Afternoon in the Park

This is for Virtual Paintout, March 2012, St. Petersburg, Russia challenge. It's oil on 10x12 canvas panel.

Not really sure where to begin to search in St. Petersburg Russia, I dropped the Google yellow man on one of the small islands inside the bay, and connected via bridges. It must have been a warm sunny afternoon as there were a lot of people laying around in the park. I saw this person on the hammock, a sunbather on the lawn, and the silhouette of people deep in conversation in the background. (ref) I liked the interesting composition, with people in shade vs sun, and silhouette of people vs more 3D regular looking ones. The sunbather appeared to tanning her bare back on the lawn, and her fair skin color made a nice pop of color in the middle of the sunny green lawn.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Two Red Pears

This is for Rookie Painter, Feb 2012 challenge, Two Red Pears. It's oil on 10x10 canvas panel.

Despite of the crazy week and a half where I traveled to two different countries with one kid on a swim meet and another on a field trip, I had to do this challenge (ref). I like the simple layout and high contrast. I did this in about 3 hours of painting time while blasting Queen (I usually listen something much quieter). I prepared the canvas last night by painting the whole thing black with acrylic paint. Again, I could have tweaked and refined this even more, but I had to leave it as is since the kids came home from school and the deadline is today.

My relatively simple palette included mainly cadmium yellow, cadmium orange, burnt sienna, alizarin, burnt umber, ultramarine blue, ultramarine violet, white, yellow orchre.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Apple Kettle Book and Chain

This is for Feb 2012 Rookie Painter challenge. It's oil on 10x14 canvas panel.

There were two choices for this month's challenge (ref). The one with the blue cloth stood out to me because of the bright color contrast. I also liked the triangular set up of the still life items and the gold chain that broke up the rigidness of the other items. However, I thought the kettle against a light background made the kettle too overpowering compared to the other items. So I made the background to have similar tone and value of the kettle to make it less stand out.

As I had limited time to do this painting, with all the kids and other things I need to attend to, I did this in about four hours. I know there were things I could have tweaked, like the tea kettle handle bar, but I thought the painting as is had already expressed what I was trying to do. So I left it as is: the art of imperfection.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Family at Cavoli Beach

This is my second submission to this month's Virtual Paintout challenge, Elba Italy. It's oil on 10x10 canvas panel.

Not too far from where I found the scene for my first painting, I saw this family standing very close to the Google camera (ref) with good sun light. Since I'd done many landscape paintings recently, and I'd not really painted human bodies before, this was worth trying. It was actually a family of five. I dropped two of the kids just trying to keep a not so simple painting more manageable. I also drop all the crowd, chairs, umbrellas in the background, and painted a simple beach instead.

One difficulty with this painting was that the Google Map picture was not very clear, especially with human faces and also the man on the right, as they were all distorted. So I had to made up the faces, and the body (ok, I actually looked up Calvin Klein ad photos to get some idea since the mom and dad in the photo looked like Calvin Klein models). My palette for skin in this painting included flesh tone, naples yellow, cadmium orange, burnt sienna, olive green, madder, ultramarine violet, burnt umber, violet grey, and white.

A Ride with Talisker

This is a commissioned work. It's oil on 9x12 canvas panel.

Kellie and Paul had asked me to do a painting for their two poodles, Bailey and Talisker. Kellie sent me many photos they took since they moved to LA. This one with Talisker riding in a car catching the wind caught my eyes. It's got such a care free feel to it. I also wanted to do something for the Paws For Charity Art Book Project (ref), so I decided to first do this smaller work, trying to capture this carefree feel.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Couple at Cavoli Beach

This is for Virtual Paintout, February 2012 Elba Italy challenge. It's oil on 10x10 canvas panel.

I've never been to this part of Italy before, the Tuscan Archipelago, so I started my virtual visit by dropping the Google Map yellow man randomly along the south coast of the island. The yellow man took me to a beach somewhere around Cavoli. There were a lot of nice beach scenes, including this one (ref), plus we're still in the middle of winter, and my hands and feet were still ice cold from the cold temperature, so there was great appeal in a painting beach scene (wishful thinking).

This scene caught my eyes because of the strong light contrast. It also reminded me of beach scene paintings by one of our favorite artists, Karin Jurick, whose use of color is so brilliant, and her brush strokes are so precise. I simplified the scene a great deal as the beach was full of people and I really just wanted to paint this couple. The man's balding hair and fuller figure plus the woman's inflatable bed give the painting an unusual twist.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Sea Sky Beach

This is a commissioned work, it's oil on 30x40" stretched canvas.

Britta and Gabe wanted a painting in their living room that captured the colors of their ocean view, plus big sky and sandy beach. To go with the clean line style of their living room decor, the painting needed to be simple, to the point and clutter free. Britta has an architecture background, and likes paintings by Ralston Crawford. With these parameters, I went back to my drawing board.

I looked up paintings by Ralston Crawford for ideas. Many of his paintings had a clear vanishing point, whether it be seen explicitly on canvas, implied on canvas, or implied off canvas. So I knew one of the elements I needed to have was to have some kind of vanishing point or clear perspective element. In addition, Britta had spent many of her childhood summers on Martha's Vineyard, where we visited every year as well. So this also gave me an idea: there's a long stretch of beach, called State Beach, running between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. So I started to sketch out and did a few small prototypes.

One thing I realized in this horizontal arrangement was that with the ocean on the right and beach on left, the painting didn't feel too balanced. I added in a small stretch of road on the left in a bluish grey, trying to balance out the ocean on the right. The white strip on the road also echoed the white line suggestion of wave crashing onshore.

The few protypes I did included this one, beach with texture, sky with cloud, with house, trees, vertical arrangement... At the end we decided the simple horizontal arrangement was the best.

Similar to my prior commissioned works and painting sales, in lieu of paying me anything, Britta and Gabe made a charity contribution, in this instance, to the UNICEF. Thank you very much and enjoy your painting.

Colorado Snowy Woodland

This is my second submission to January 2012 Virtual Paintout, Summit County Colorado challenge. It's oil on 10x14 canvas panel.

While I was "virtually" skiing and site-seeing in Summit County, Colorado, besides the many skier scenes, one of which I had just painted, there were also many beautiful snowy woodland scenes, many of which reminded me of paintings by John F. Carlson who wrote one of the must-reads in landscape painting, "Carlson's Guide to Landscape Painting". I wished the illustrations in his book were in color. A search on the internet yielded some of Carlson's paintings in color, although not every single painting shown in the book. I decided to do this snowy woodland scene (ref) in the spirit of Carlson.

I first prepared my canvas panel with an acrylic base on mixture of red oxide and yellow orchre. I also had to adjust my palette, as Carlson's color, especially shadows tend to of colder and greyer than what I usually use. I added in colors such as Prussian Blue and van Dyke Brown. I also followed Carlson's recommendation on order of values: lightest being the ground, then sky, then background, and then foreground. I also kept some parts loosely painted so that the ground color of red would show through to add more interest.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Downhill Junior

This is for Virtual Paintout January, 2012 Colorado challenge. It's oil on 12x16.

This month's Colorado challenge is quite unique: the Google camera was actually attached to a snow mobile, and Google street pictures were taken on ski slopes! I couldn't pass up such a fun opportunity to "ski" virtually while sipping hot tea by my computer! Very cool.

Somewhere not too far from where the ski lift drop-off, I saw this little guy going downhill, in parallel skis! (ref) (as opposed to kiddie wedges we usually see with kids going down the hill) In fact, I think he has better posture than me! In any case, I thought it would make a fun composition, with his bright red jacket, bright snow, shadows from the trees, far away mountain.

Starting with a white canvas, I first painted cold dark trees and the mountain in the background. Sunny snow is white mixed with cadmium yellow. Tree shadows are white with violet grey and blue grey. I used palette knife for the tree trunks, and tree leaves were combinations of burnt sienna, burnt umbre, cadmium yellow, sap green etc. For the kid's jacket I used my left over vermilion, cadmium red, alizarin, ultramarine violet from the strawberries painting I did a few days ago. To make the bottom part of the painting, with the snow, shadows and the kid, less disjointed from upper half, with the trees and mountain, I decided to put in a few rays of sun peeping through from the trees to tie the two parts together.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Strawberries and Copper Bowls

This is for Rookie Painter, December 2011 challenge. It's oil on 10x14 canvas board.

Coming back from a long holiday, I need to pick up my brushes again. I was looking at this photo over the holiday and was eager to dig into my paint and brushes. (ref) It was a nice pop of color of the strawberries vs. the reflective bowls.

I decided to use colors from the same family for the main objects, vermillion, cadmium red, cadmium orange, burnt sienna, burnt umber. The copper bowls, especially the upper two, were warmer in my painting than in the photo to keep in the same color family. I also made the reflection in the lowest bowl brighter for better contrasts with the strawberries. Lastly I added pops of pure vermillion onto the strawberries to make the color pop even more.