Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Innocence - Day Thirty of the 30/30 Challenge

Watercolor on Saunders Waterford #140 Cold Press Paper, 15"h x 11"w, 2015 #32

Master Study, Not for Sale

Day Thirty of the challenge -- I've made it this time! Yay!!!

This last painting I've completed for the challenge this month is also not done in a day's time, but on and off at every chance that a day's painting has not taken the entire time of that day. It is also a master study of Jan Kunz, as I have set a goal for myself to learn the basic of portrait and figure painting in watercolor in the coming year. I have learned a lot from doing this one -- from how to mix believable skin tones to the procedure of rendering the features of the face, as well as how to apply a background that does not detract from the figure. It's also done on a surface that is hard-sized, but for some reason dries much faster than Arches, so the window of time left to manipulate wet washes on it is not ideal. But it forces me to simplify and work fast, and in the end, I think I've learned to apply multiple light glazes to fix soft half-tone shapes that don't quite have the right value, color or edge quality. I would like to do some figure paintings of children in a simple, one-light-source setting like this one next. If you have a good photo of a child that I could use, please email it to me. Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

It Takes Two to Tango - Day Twenty-Nine of the 30/30 Challenge

It Takes Two to Tango, 
Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, 11"h x 7"w, 2015 #31

Master Study, Not for Sale

Day Twenty-Nine of the challenge -- never thought I would make the whole challenge again! Yay! It is almost the end!!! This painting is a study of master watercolor artist Jan Kunz, whose work I have admired since I took up watercolor a few years ago. The clean, colorful washes that radiates with light just grabs my heart the first time I saw one of her books. Since I haven't painted many still life setups, I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to experiment with different texture -- glass, silver, wood, etc., before to attempt assembly a grand still life and paint it. So this is my practice for capturing the texture of clear, thick glass. It combines something that I am familiar with and feel comfortable painting -- rose, with something I am feeling a little bit timid about -- glass. I had a lot of fun doing it, and painted it over a few days of this month, whenever the day's painting did not take up too much time and leaves a few hours to spend on other projects. I have discovered that painting glass is not unlike assembling a big piece of puzzle -- I have lost numerous times over the different patterns of reflection and refraction painting the ball jar, and it is just one simple little jar! Clearly I needed more practice on this subject, but it was so much fun. The next step is to assemble a still life of my own similar to this setup and see if I could carried out what I have learned doing this master study into my own painting. Can't wait to do that!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dusk over Marsh - Day Twenty-Eight of the 30/30 Challenge

Dusk over Marsh, 
Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, 2015 #30

Bid in My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $50)

Day Twenty-Eight of the challenge -- a little plein air piece at sunset, done mostly with my 1" slanted bristle brush. I am falling in love with this big, stiff brush that is not at all capable of doing any details, but carries so much pigment and water and does soft wet-in-wet blending and rough edges both so well! When the sun is setting and the light changing fast, it is really handy! I actually did several different studies before the sun completely sinks under the horizon, but I love this one the most -- it did capture the glorious sky that I saw, which made all the draw grass near shore literally glows with dragon's blood red! Again, this is done in a quiet back corner of the shoreline park of mountain view. I can never get tired of painting the beautiful wetlands in the bay area...

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Remnants - Day Twenty-Seven of the 30/30 Challenge

Remnants, Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, 2015 #29

Bid in My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $35)

Day Twenty-Seven of the challenge -- another little plein air study I did at the ghost town of Drawbridge, near the marshlands by Mountain View. The sky is extraordinarily clear and very intense warm blue in the zenith, with just the slightest bits of pale clouds down toward horizon. The shoreline is cleared of people at the early hour. Because of the heat and drought in the past few months (years?! :-), the grass along the shore is a lovely golden brown color, providing contrast with the cool turquoise water -- I just have to paint it! The dilapidated shack near a broken wooden-plank bridge naturally became my center of focus for this painting, as it has so much character, like an old face full of wrinkles and history. I can't help but wondering who built it, who has stayed in it over the years, coming out between the time after the stars are gone, and before the early dawn light is in, staring into the big empty sky and wondering what is at the other end of the horizon. In the quiet hours of dawn, I feel connected to all that has happened here before, the people who have come, and the days flown by. I put my brush to paper...

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Low Tide, Linda Mar Beach - Day Twenty-Six of the 30/30 Challenge

Low Tide, Linda Mar Beach,
 Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, 2015 #28

Bid in My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $50)

Day Twenty-Six of the challenge -- another little plein air study I completed at the Linda Mar beach of Pacifica. The sun was setting behind a thin veil of clouds, and there is an intense purple-magenta glow through moistened air. The tide is out, ten thousand little channels on the wet sand beach glisten with warm golden reflections. Because the fog is closing in, this busy beach is surprisingly empty, when the near-shore rock formations were back lid into a parade of strange and a little intimidating gigantic mystical beast sculptures. One slender figure in red drifts in with the wind, almost silently, and lingers near the distant rock form. I just had to add her into my painting. Love it when a painting almost paints itself for me -- one of those rare occasions...

Friday, September 25, 2015

April's Promise - Day Twenty-Five of the 30/30 Challenge

April's Promise, 
Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico #140 Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, 2015 #27

Bid in My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $95)

Day Twenty- Five of the challenge -- another one I have labored on for ages. When I first started this painting I had absolutely no idea that Fabriano Cold Press paper is very very different from Arches Cold Press paper -- in absolutely every aspect. Arches is hard-surfaced, holds pigments applied onto its surface relatively well, because the pigments do sink into its paper fibers quite a bit -- and because of this the colors do seem to get a little bit duller as the applied washes dry and sink in, also it is difficult to lift colors from this paper, especially if you are using some of the staining ones such as Thalo or Alizarin Crimson. Fabriano Artistico paper, on the other hand, only keeps pigment on its very soft surface, which makes lifting easy -- even lifting back to the paper white is possible without actually damaging the paper surface, but wet-in-wet glazing difficult as the underlying colors have a tendency to lift off if you wet the paper again! Also, soft-surfaced paper dry at a speed much faster than hard-surfaced paper, as the latter has a lot of surface sizing and prevent drying by absorption to a certain degree. I have since learned my lesson -- the painful way, as I labored my way through this little piece, throwing my brush onto the ground numerous times as the applied wash simply refuse to do what I want it to. Luckily, I was taking some classes with the amazing watercolor artist, Jeannie Vooden when I started this painting. And I have learned the patient blending of very thin, watery washes wet-on-dry in her class. I modified this method by trial and error to use on the Fabriano paper, learning complete different painting techniques and procedures that would suit the temperament of this delicate paper... I have learned so much through the process!

Looking back at this finished piece, I am amazed at how much my method of paint application has changed through the struggle of this little painting. It has literally taught me so much about watercolor, and about myself as a painter. I am grateful for all the struggles it put me through, and feel very proud that I have stuck with it till the end.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fire Dance - Day Twenty- Four of the 30/30 Challenge

Fire Dance, Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico #140 Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, 2015 #26

Currently on Hold ($175)

Day Twenty- Four of the challenge -- this is a painting that I have labored on and off for the past few years, and each time after putting it away for a while and taking it back out, I find something to add or change here and there. But the most recent examinations have revealed less and less changed that I feel necessary. So today, after doing a few last little tweaks, I've decided that it is time to call it done and let it go to the wide world! As a cherished child this is the first painting that I feel hard to let go... And there is a collector that I have promised first dibs when I finish it, after which I will let it go to the open auction. A personal favorite of mine...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Curiosity - Day Twenty-Three of the 30/30 Challenge

Curiosity, Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, 2015 #25

Bid in My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $95)

Day Twenty-Three of the challenge -- I don't paint animals often, especially those with feather and fur, not because I am not drawn to these cute little critters, but due to the fact that I am really not feeling very competent with creating realistic texture of feather and fur with watercolor. Taking the opportunity of this challenge though, I decide that I should not shy away from these subject if I ever want to get better at painting them. Instead I need to tackle them head-on! So here it is, my very first attempt at a furry critter, it's big cute eyes just melts my heart... The fur patterns has taken my many wet-in-wet glazes and careful lifting with small stiff brushes to do, and I still cannot say that I have fully mastered how to do it for all future instances, but it's a start! I have also discovered in the process that Yellow Ocher has very interesting granulating qualities that is different from it's warmer, more transparent sister, Raw Sienna. I would like to explore it a bit more...

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Glen River Autumn - Day Twenty-Two of the 30/30 Challenge

Glen River Autumn, Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, 2015 #24

Bid in My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $45)

Day Twenty-Two of the challenge -- working with an earthy palette again. This one is a memory painting of the Russian River valley up north, which I have painted "En Plein Air" many times. I especially love the fall there -- clear air, cloudy sky, muted ocher-colored shrubs, always reminding me of the highlands of Scotland... 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ancestor's Place - Day Twenty-One of the 30/30 Challenge

Ancestor's Place, Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, 6"h x 6"w, 2015 #23

Bid in My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $55)

Day Twenty-One of the challenge -- a painting of the red rock country of Sedona, Arizona. I have been wanting to paint these amazing rock formations forever since I paid my first visit to the desert country of the grand canyon state in 2008... I used a primary palette of Winsor Red, Burnt Sienna (a muted orange serving as my yellow) and Winsor Blue for this one, painting the sky and the clouds mostly wet-in-wet while patiently layering the red rock shapes from light to dark, softening edges where the cloud is in front of the monolith, adding dry-brush texture toward the base. The small foreground tree shapes were painted mostly using the 1" slanted bristle brush to get the rough silhouette of the foliage, and the linear marks of the branches were added where I think a line may compliment the dark mass. I was happy with this first effort, but would like to paint it again to explore different format and play with horizontal as well as vertical composition, to see how they can give different mood to the painting. This is what I really like about the 30/30 project -- it prevents me to linger too long on a small piece of the paper and opens the doors of experimentation. Each project by itself does not become overly precious. But as a body of work, I can always see my progress through them very clearly at the end of each challenge...

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