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.