Friday, June 7, 2013

A Few More Pieces for the Climate Crisis Show, and Winter Solitude Finished!

Disappearing Beauty - Langjokull, Central Highland, Iceland, 
Watercolor on Arches #140 Cold Press Paper, 5"h x 7"w, 013 #49

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $30) 

One of the other litter pieces in the "Disappearing Beauty" series -- this one depicts another endangered glacier in the central highland of Iceland. During my visit to Iceland I drove across the roadless central highlands -- it was almost a moon landscape with sparse ground vegetation (only lichen and tundra grass, not a tree visible) and its various shades of ochers, siennas and browns due to the iron and sulfur compounds abundant in the volcanic rocks and soil. Most of the mountain encountered on this journey are half-covered with glacier, and when temperature rise during the day, fog start to hover at the base of them, intermingle with wind-carried dust (due to the lack of vegetation), veiling the foothills in such a surreal way. Not another soul to be found in my entire journey -- no people, no animal, no sound of critters. The only thing one hears is the roaring of ever-blowing wind. I feel I was almost transported to an entirely different eon of time. The whole experience was so surreal...

Later I learned that the glacier I saw during this road trip, Langjokull, was one of the small ones in Iceland and was much threatened by the gradual warming of the surrounding sea of Iceland, and its area acreage has shrunk quite considerably in recent year already, because of the fast summer melting in higher average day temperatures, and mild winter without much snow replenish it. It would break my heart to see such unique landscape losing its essential components due to the lack of action on our side -- it takes millennium to make a glacier, but they could be gone in decades in the current trend, and never to be experienced again by future generations...

Disappearing Beauty - Palisade Glacier Lake, Sierra Crest, Summer,
Watercolor on Sennelier #140 Rough Paper, 4"h x 9"w, 2013 #48

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $35) 

The third one in the "Palisade Glacier Lake" set -- this one depicts the scene of lush summer. All three are matted together in a triptych format with 16" x 20" frames right now, in the "Climate Crisis" show of the Main Gallery of Redwood City. This exhibition is now open and runs through Sunday, June 30th. The Main Gallery, located at 1018 Main Street in Redwood City, is open every Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. If you are in the area, remember to stop by and see all the interesting art pieces in the show!

Winter Solitude, Watercolor on Arches #140 Rough paper, 7"h x 10"w, 2013 #50

Bid at My DPW Auction (Starting Bid $40) 

Finally, I completed "Winter Solitude" by adding foreground calligraphy of little shrub and withered grass, and like the mood -- I may try to paint a larger version of it, on a different type of paper... Recently I am really itching to paint larger and use my 2" and 3" sky flow brushes... I enjoyed exploring the different stage of drying and the textural effects one can achieve by continuing adding dense pigment on a gradually drying surface, which you can see on the foreground tree bark and shrub -- some part of its main stem has a fuzzy look which is accidentally achieve when a rigger brush loaded with stiff mixture of brown and blue is pressed hard on surfaces with different level of wetness, and in the wetter areas the pigment would diffuse just enough to create the fuzzy look. I thought it added surface interest and decided to keep it, and maybe explore this effect later more deliberately in future paintings... One of the "happy accidents" so famous for the media of watercolor, isn't it? ;-)

You can now buy high quality Giclee prints of many of my sold paintings, both on paper and canvas, as well as some note cards with my paintings here:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Visual Poetry, and Thoughts on Landscape Painting

Winter Solitude, Watercolor on Arches #140 Rough paper, 7"h x 10"w, WIP 1

When I started to learn watercolor painting, I would be really puzzle by the idea that somebody could and would prefer to paint from a pencil sketch -- black and white, maybe with some notes jotted down on it. I would always wonder how they could proceed to paint a large full sheet landscape from a small 4" x 6" thumbnail value sketch -- how do they know what color the field it, and what detail do they put on that tree, how do they manage to paint it without a reference photo?... 

As I progress as a painter, I have gradually come to the realization that painting -- especially painting of landscapes -- is more about accumulating your collected pool of visual symbols and editing the shape in the image you are creating on paper, about tuning your visual language into a coherence poem. Even with a detailed photo snatched on spot a good landscape painting would more than likely to divert from it, and inventing his own shapes for a foreground bush, or tuning the sky color to create a certain mood. A good still life painting can be 80% similar in its color and shapes to the original reference photo (or setup), but in landscape it is very likely one would need to do 50% or more editing on shapes and colors to reach a pleasing picture on paper. It is more close to poetry than prose in this sense, if compared to literal arts.

This is probably why it is such a hard transition for competent still life painters to transition to landscape painting, and vise versa, because it in a way emphasizes a completely different arsenal of skills, although the basic elements -- shapes, color, value -- are the same for the two genre. Just like poetry and prose both uses words and sentences, though, it doesn't mean good poets would write compelling short stories, or reverse.

I feel I am relearning my visual language in painting more landscapes in the past couple of weeks, and would love to pursue this direction more. It is both exciting and terrifying, as all learning experiences are -- I am in uncharted waters here, and feeling again helpless more than competent most of the times. But it is also exhilarating. The journey has begun...

You can now buy high quality Giclee prints of many of my sold paintings, both on paper and canvas, as well as some note cards with my paintings here:

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