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)


  1. Love what you are doing with white rose, but admittedly don't have your vision either. Congratulations on winning the silver medal for your red rose. It is beautiful and the framing is perfect to highlight the beauty of the rose itself.

  2. I don't paint ... but ... I am aware of these changes in both drawing and writing; that is to say, plan what I intend to draw/write and find myself doing something else. I call this 'the pen taking over.'

    I have worked over poetry ..really involved nowhere. The poems the pen wrote get published effortlessly.

    I think Peppermint Rose is fabulous ... easily worth the Silver. Enjoy the ceremony! It's many years since I was in the bay area :0) we used to fly into SFO quite often in the 1970s... stayed at the Drake Wiltshire Hotel, I think!

  3. Congradulations on Peppermint Rose - it certainly deserves the award! As for Snow White, paint what you fell at that moment. Try later on scrap paper the two different techniques. It sounds interesting. I'm going to try the two methods as well.


Thank you so much for taking time visiting and commenting on my blog! Your feedback and encouragements are things that keep me going with I am feeling down or frustrated... I will try my best to reply to every comment ASAP but sometimes life gets in the way and I am a bit slow in my response. I would like to apologize if that happens...

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