Thursday, December 26, 2013

St. Maria Basilica, Venice

This is for Virtual Paintout, December 2013, Venice Italy challenge. It's oil on F4 canvas panel.

There were so many nice scenes in Venice to paint. We've been to Venice many years ago, and it's nice to virtually travel there again. With the holiday travel and all the meals, finding quiet time to paint has been a bit difficult. 

I chose this particular scene (ref) to paint because it reminded me of a painting in a gallery we saw when we were there. The view of that painting was of a different tower in the city, but I remember the brilliant blue sky against bright orange color lights. So when I saw the bright sunny day street map photo of the Santa Maria Basilica, I thought it would be great for me to express using similar color combination.

With only about six tubes of color with me, I started with quick monochromatic sketch with a wash of burnt umber, which part of that can still be seen at the bottom right hand corner. My buildings weren't perfect straight, but I didn't think that was my purpose to render an architecture precise drawing. I just wanted to capture the light and color. So I kept these roughness in there.

With a few days left in the month, I wish the painting challenge can be extended science there are so many more nice scenes to paint!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Catch a Glimpse

This is for Virtual Paintout November 2013 Iceland Challenge. It's oil on F3 canvas panel.

Iceland had a lot of beautiful scenaries. However, this shot (ref) caught my eyes more than others because of the strong lighting on the woman's hair compared to the building behind her, as well as the interesting reflection of street scene mixed in with the interior of the store. Is she checking out the lamps inside the store or is she looking at her own reflection? 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Girl with Pearl Earrings

I always wanted to learn how to paint portraits with the "glow" similar to many paintings done by great Renaissance masters. Before I left Hong Kong, I figured the last painting I did at Anastasia Art House was to copy one of the masterpieces, and to learn the process, especially while I still have Oxana looking over my shoulder giving me pointers. I chose Vermeer's Girl with Pearl Earrings exactly because of this "glow" which I wanted to learn to achieve. 

The painting started out with an under painting with black and raw umber. To keep the finishing painting smooth, a very thin layer of paint was applied for under painting. The highlight area of the face is kept light by having very little paint on it. The background color was done at this point.

After the under painting was dried, each successive layer was done by glazing the face, plus painting in both very bright highlights and deepening shadows. At first, I tried to paint in the highlight with white after a layer of glazing. The resulting face was way too chalky from the white. I found the best color to do the highlight is based on Naples yellow. Raw umber works beautifully in this painting, both as a glazing color, and also to help deepen the shadow. Touches of cadmium red help give pinkish tone to the face.

After repeating this glazing / painting layering about 4-5 times, the main tone and color were done. Finally details were put in with smaller brushes and highlights on th headgear and clothing were added. The canvas was about 18x24in. If I were to do a portrait in the future, I will definitely practice this Vermeer type technique again since I really like the resulting glow.

Monday, October 28, 2013


Before the summer, Kellie asked me to do a painting for her friend Ray whose dog BoBo had just passed on. I said to Kellie of course I would love to do the project, the only problem was we were packing up our house in Hong Kong and sending everything onto a container ship for Japan. During the summer we were back home in the States and taking the kids to summer camps and lots of running around. Now we've finally arrived in Japan, I really need to pick up the brushes and start painting again.

Looking at the picture Kellie gave me, I thought I wanted to convey a sense of peacefulness through this painting, and to give the owners Ray and his partner some sense of solace that their beloved girl is in a place free of pain and is at peace. I wanted to the keep the tone of the picture subdue. In the picture BoBo had a subtle smile, and I thought it was very important for me to capture that.

The painting was done on a Japanese F3 size canvas (F3 is 22x27cm... like a 8x10in. I still yet have to learn the different canvas size system here). I first prepared the canvas with black acrylic paint. During the summer I went onto and bought several new tubes of greys and whites from Gamblin, so many of the new colors were used here. The color combination is generally based on warm shadow and cool light.


Parque Beato Marcelino Champagnat

This is for October 2013, Virtual Paintout, Lima Peru challenge. It's oil on F3 canvas.

Because of our move, I've been so busy. Now we're finally here in Japan, I can finally find sometime to get back into doing VP. 

This month's painting is a composite of two near-by views, couple sitting and ocean view. It's based on a limited palette, since most of my tubes of oil paint are still in the container which have not arrived here yet. My limited palette includes ultramarine blue, burnt umber, lemon yellow, naples yellow, cadmium red, cold grey, and white.