Sunday, September 30, 2012

Petal Light III (Finished!)

I stayed up late for three consecutive nights and finally managed to finish this one for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society's Annual Member Show! I am quite happy with the wet-in-wet passage of the big tree stump behind the flower -- but it was absolutely scary when that whole area is wet, and thick pigments of French Ultramarine and Quinacridone Burnt Sienna oozing in amorphous shaped puddles, and I was frenetically trying to lift out some brighter passages within the whole mess of darkness... I did struggle back and forth about whether I should even leave the stump where it is before starting to paint this image -- or whether I should simply remove it and put in more foliage behind the flower. I finally decided the image has enough areas of foliage and the stump could potentially break the monotony of blues and greens, add a little muted warmth to the imagery, and decide to leave it in the picture. To contrast with the detailed flower, I decide to paint the whole area wet-in-wet, using only brushwork to hint the wood grains and rough textures on the bark. I'm really glad that I did it this way -- and on this difficult paper, because it did force me to totally loosen up and break away from my reference photo, and only concentrate on WHAT IS HAPPENING ON MY PAPER to make interesting shapes using light, medium and dark value patterns and warm-cool color contrasts. It is so liberating and I really need to do this many, many, many more times!!!  

Petal Light III, 
Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 140# Cold Press Paper,10"h x 14"w, 2012 #50

I choose a dark copper-bronze colored frame to echo the warm rusty hue of the tree stump, and deposited the painting at the Rose Shenson Gallery of Triton Art Museum in Santa Clara. The show runs from October 4th to November 3rd, and the opening reception is next Saturday, October 7th from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. I will be at the reception. If you are in the area, stop by and say hi! 

Petal Light III, Framed (Frame Size 16"h x 20"w)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Work in Progress: Snow White (and the Huntsman?...) (Conflict of Styles?...)

Have you ever experienced this -- you are looking at a beautiful reference photo, and you have a clear vision of how the painting will turn out. You sit down, start to work on it with a specific technique that you know will work with the imagery and bring out that special "zing" of it. You work more -- and then suddenly you realize a different technique, a different way to deal with the imagery, a completely different vision is taking over and you are torn between the old and the new? What do you do in this situation, my friend? Do you let your initial idea persist and work out the later inspiration in a second attempt of the same reference, or do you let the painting take a life of its own and dictate how it wants to present itself?...

I started this painting of a white rose back lid against a field of dark foliage as an experiment of blending colorful grey on the shadow areas of the petal -- using Permanent Rose, Aureolin Yellow and Cobalt Blue to mix greys with subtle color temperature shifts. I was quite happy about the results of the first few petals on the upper left side, but when I proceed on to the lower right side, I suddenly realize that I am practicing the painting technique I learned in the Amazing Jeannie Vooden's class and directly blending the three primaries on paper and layering them on as glazes instead of finishing each shadow area in one go. Suddenly realizing this could be one of the images of "colorful whites" that I love so much about Jeannie's work, I am eager to try out the technique. Yet as I was taking a break (while waiting the paint to dry, haha, I'm sure I am not the only one who is guilty of doing this) and surfing through the web, I came across one of the amazing images of Ann Pember, one of my favorite flower painters of all times, I was reminded of the beautiful way she paints white flowers -- wetting each shadow shapes separately and use wet-in-wet brush to hint the folds and turns of the petals, finishing each area in one go using high-saturation colors and let them blend on paper. I realized that I've wanted to try this method on for a long time -- and this imagery presents a find opportunity for doing that! Now I am really torn about how to proceed forward... 

Snow White, Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 8"h x 10"w, WIP 1

As a result, I put the white rose aside and resumed working on this bird of paradise painting (another one!). It has been a real challenge to work on this Fabriano #140 Cold Press paper -- I like to put on color a bit more thickly than people who does a lot of glazing to build up the color intensity, and as a result, whenever I try to rewet an area to do some detailed work wet-in wet, the underlying layers just lift like crazy. But, the color brilliance that can be obtained on Fabriano paper is just hard to match using Arches. So I am pressing on... (Speaking of enjoying the process versus results, well, while painting on the Fabriano paper I am clearly aiming at the latter instead of fully enjoying the former. Am I bad?...)

Petal Light III, 
Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 140# Cold Press Paper, 10"h x 14"w, WIP 4

Speaking of results -- the jurying results were in for the Fremont Art Association's 47th Annual Open Juried Exhibition, and my work, "Peppermint Rose" has won the silver medal of honor in Watermedia! I am so excited... The awards ceremony is this coming Sunday at 1pm. If you are in the bay area and not busy, come by and say hi!...

Peppermint Rose, 
Watercolor on Fabriano Artistico 140# Cold Press Paper, 8"h x 8"w, 2012 #36

Buy It Now from My DPW Gallery ($125)

Here's how this painting looks in its frame -- I chose a simple black frame a little wider than 1" and 2" white mat all around, nothing too fancy to direct viewer's eyes away from the painting...

Peppermint Rose, Framed (Frame Size 12"h x 12"w)

Friday, September 21, 2012

High Summer Dreams III (Deadlines Here I Come...)

I finally manage to finish this and send it off before the deadline today... It was literally painting against the clock. Two down, one to go! I am really hoping to finish another Bird of Paradise painting by next Friday for the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society's Annual Member Show...

High Summer Dreams III, 
Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 10"h x 14"w, 2012 #49

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $150)

Regarding shows -- it is old news now but my painting "Beauty Queen" is awarded an honorable mention in the Watercolor Artists of Sacramento Horizons' open juried show this year. "Petal Light II" and "Spring Breeze IV" are also juried into this exhibition, which runs through next Saturday, September 29th in Sacramento Fine Arts Center. If you happen to be in the area, stop by and take a look! :-)

Beauty Queen, Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 7"h x 5"w, 2012 #41

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hide and Seek III (I'm Back!!!......)

Hi everyone! I am finally back from China... It's been a long absence and I've done a bunch of landscape sketches that I am going to share on this blog in the coming days, but for now, I am stressed over two coming deadlines -- one for this Friday and the other one for the coming Saturday, both 11" x 14" bird of paradise paintings (large ones for me). I will post the progress shots along the way, I promise.

I have not been able to manage to paint much during my absence, and when I tried to get back at it -- it's almost like learning everything from start again! (The deadlines surely did not help either...) I found that I am having problems gauging the wetness of the brush, the exact mixture to use for a glaze, and the timing for large, wet-in-wet applications... I've messed up a couple of starts and finally decided to get back into my grooves by redoing "Hide and Seek" as an exercise -- and I do need some pieces for some art fairs and a gallery jurying process coming up in October (again, more details later). I made numerous mistakes painting this one, and was fortunate to be able to catch and correct most of them, and end up with the result that I am quite happy with:

Hide and Seek III
Watercolor on Winsor Netwon140# Cold Press Paper, 10"h x 14"w, 2012 #48


I did this version on Winsor & Newton #140 Cold Press Watercolor Paper, and it is a good test for unfamiliar paper as well. I've found the Winsor & Newton paper has a handling quality close to that of the Arches', but slightly easier for lifting, although repeated glazing for too many times may cause paint to bleed on the edge of wet area more easily than Arches as well. The final resulted color on this paper seem to dull down quite a bit, even for high saturation transparent colors like Permanent Rose, which may present a challenge for flower paintings in particular. I will experiment with it more and report it here.

From the juried exhibition front, my painting, "Petal Light #1" was accepted into the Hawaii Watercolor Society's 2012 Open Exhibition. A Fellow DPW painter and blogger, Colleen Sanchez, has selflessly contributed her time and effort helping organizing this fabulous exhibition. Colleen paints amazing watercolor flowers and lately has taken the adventure of oil painting. If you haven't already, be sure to stop by her blog, and I promise you won't be disappointed!

Petal Light #1, Watercolor on Arches 140# Cold Press Paper, 10"h x 8"w, 2012 #40

I am trying to paint as fast as I can to catch up, and in the same time -- trying to catch up with all the fabulous works you have done during the time I have no access to blogger or facebook. Everyone seems to be really productive -- lots to catch up with...

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